The design of office buildings, museums, airports, train stations, and homes, can t always be revolutionary. In fact, much of architecture consists of those banal platitudes that are necessary for cities to grow and humanity to advance. Every so often, however, a building is completed that almost universally turns heads, and in the process, veers the collective practice of architecture in a new direction.
Take Foster + Partners Apple Park, which—from its fully solar panel–clad rooftop to its ability to maintain an interior temperature of to degrees Fahrenheit by using an intake and release of natural air from the outdoors—has revolutionized the way in which modern company headquarters are designed. Or Amager Bakke, a project started in by Bjarke Ingels Group BIG that has gone on to redefine our notion that eco-friendly architecture can be done with high design. Located in Copenhagen, Ingels s structure burns waste into enough clean energy to annually power , homes in the area. Yet, unlike every other waste management plant before it, BIG s takes its one step further. Atop the structure s roof is a nearly ,-foot-long ski slope, paved with paths designated for beginners, intermediates, and experts.
As BIG s design proves, great architecture is always a point of departure. On one end, it s a structure that s using the past for inspiration in function. But it s simultaneously looking forward in attempts to better its role in the world. Indeed, culture progresses in fit and starts, never strides. And to witness a revolutionary work of architecture is to journey to the near future, by way of the near past. We believe these buildings do just that.
Fondation Louis Vuitton 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 , 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 ,-square-foot, two-and-a-half-story space. For his inspiration, Gehry looked back to several great designs of the th 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.
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