What are the most significant, most beautiful, or most interesting buildings of the past 1,000 years? Some art historians choose the Taj Mahal, while others prefer the soaring skyscrapers of modern times. Others have decided on the Ten Buildings That Changed America. There’s no single correct answer.
Perhaps the most innovative buildings are not grand monuments, but obscure homes and temples. In this quick list, we’ll take a whirlwind tour through time, visiting seven famous architectural masterpieces, that have redefined architecture in the past four years.
1. Shanghai Tower (2015) by Gensler (Shanghai)
Designed by Gensler and completed in 2015, the 2,073 foot-tall Shanghai Tower (pictured in the center) has a seemingly endless list of records: tallest building in China, second tallest in the world, world’s tallest observation deck, and the world’s second-fastest elevator system. Yet, shockingly, that list almost pales in comparison with the fact that the firm’s design of the building—an asymmetrical form with rounded corners—saved some $58 million in material cost versus a traditional angular build of the same size.
“The tower’s asymmetrical form, its tapering profile, and its rounded corners allows the building to withstand the typhoon-force winds that are common in Shanghai,” says Xiaomei Lee, Gensler’s regional managing principal in China, and project director of the Shanghai Tower. “Using a wind tunnel test conducted in a Canadian lab, Gensler refined the tower’s form, which reduced building wind loads by 24 percent. The result came in the form of a lighter structure, saving $58 million in costs for required materials.”
2. The Broad (2015) by Diller Scofidio + Renfro in collaboration with Gensler (Los Angeles)
The Broad is a new contemporary art museum built by philanthropists Eli and Edythe Broad on Grand Avenue in downtown Los Angeles. The museum, which was designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro in collaboration with Gensler, will open on September 20th, 2015 with free general admission.
The museum will be home to the nearly 2,000 works of art in The Broad Art Foundation and the Broads’ personal collections, which are among the most prominent holdings of postwar and contemporary art worldwide.
With its innovative “veil-and- vault” concept, the 120,000-square-foot, $140-million building will feature two floors of gallery space to showcase The Broad’s comprehensive collections and will be the headquarters of The Broad Art Foundation’s worldwide lending library.
The Broad is also building a 24,000-square-foot public plaza adjacent to the museum to add another parcel of critical green space to Grand Avenue.
3. Louis-Vuitton Foundation for Creation (2014) by Frank Gehry (Paris)
Due to its strict building codes, and architectural pedigree, Paris is among the world’s most difficult places to successfully design modern architecture. Yet, leave it to the most lyrical of all starchitects, Frank Gehry, and his phenomenal Fondation Louis Vuitton, to accomplish such a feat. Completed in 2014, the vessel-shaped glass structure sits among the trees and lawns of Paris’s Bois de Boulogne.
The building is filled with LVMH’s impressive art collection, with works ranging from Kusama and Abramovi´c to Matisse and Giacometti spread throughout the 126,000-square-foot, two-and-a-half-story space. For his inspiration, Gehry looked back to several great designs of the 19th century. “I’ve always loved the glass greenhouse buildings in French and British gardens.
When we were confronted with a site in the Bois de Boulogne, glass seemed like the best way to add a structure to the beautiful garden,” says Gehry. “Of course, in a museum structure, you can’t hang paintings on glass, so we had to design a more enclosed building inside the glass exterior.” This play between solid and glass works to perfection within the verdant atmosphere of the Bois de Boulogne. It’s a structure that’s both whimsical and sturdy, much like the meandering paths and endless row of trees that surround it.