4. They Oculus (2016) by Santiago Calatrava (New York)
Santiago Calatrava has built a reputation for creating structures so dynamic, they appear poised to take flight at any moment. And the Spanish-born’s design of the Oculus is no exception.
While the structure is built of steel, concrete, stone, and glass, it takes the shape of a bird, specifically a phoenix, in mid-flight. The symbolism of a phoenix rising from the ashes is immediate, as the building is located mere feet from the September 11th Memorial and Museum in downtown Manhattan. But it’s not just the symbolism, it’s also the design—the ability of visitors to move with ease through a space that connects 11 subway lines and countless retail and office spaces—that makes this transportation hub such an architectural marvel.
“I wanted to build a station that anyone can easily find their way around. Why? Because finding one’s way in a station is essential,” explains Calatrava. “The idea of going underground through long escalators, entering dim places, this is our everyday life in New York. But does it have to be so dark? No. I wanted to create a place that delivers the people a sense of comfort through its orientation, while also delivering a sense of security by opening everything to the naked eye.” For anyone who has visited Calatrava’s Oculus, it’s evident he’s done this in spades.
5. Apple Park (2017) by Foster + Partners (Cupertino, California)
“We’ve come up with a design that puts 12,000 people in one building,” said Steve Jobs in 2011 about his plans for Apple’s new headquarters, during an address which would be his final public appearance. “We’ve seen these office parks with lots of buildings, and they get pretty boring pretty fast. . . . So we’re going to do something different from that.” To fulfill his bold vision, Apple chose Norman Foster, a Pritzker Prize–winning architect who has been responsible for some of the most innovative buildings on the planet.
Foster took heed of Job’s insistence on a campus where the barrier between building and nature seamlessly disappears. To that end, Apple’s newest building is designed to breathe, quite literally. Tucked within each canopy is a ventilation system that funnels air in and out of the building. Appeasing Jobs’s wishes (as he was not a fan of air conditioning), Foster designed a structure that allows Apple employees to feel any passing breeze as if they were sitting outside. Through a variety of sensors, the building can maintain a temperature of 68 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit, all by using an intake and release of natural air.