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The 11 Most Anticipated Buildings of 2020

In the words of architect Robert Venturi, we believe these buildings will allow you to “see familiar things in an unfamiliar way."

From Architectural Digest, written by Nick Mafi, here are the eleven most anticipated buildings of 2020:

Opus by Zaha Hadid Architects (Dubai, U.A.E.)

Over the past two decades, Dubai has become a virtual playground for architects who want to put their wildest dreams to the test. And perhaps no architect has explored the potential curve of an angle more than the late Zaha Hadid. The firm that still bears her name, Zaha Hadid Architects, (ZHA), will soon complete a building that will surely stand out in a city chock-full of head-turning architecture. The Opus, as the building is being called, will house a hotel, 12 restaurants, a rooftop bar, and 56,000 square feet of office space. But you can excuse those of us who will quickly forget what’s inside of the building when we simply look at what’s outside. The structure miraculously has a gaping hole in the middle of it, continuing the firm's lengthy tradition of designing objects that seem to perform a dance with the same trio: gravity, space, and voids. While the design seems like something we’d likely see on another planet, ZHA’s method in creating such a striking structure is rather logical. “We designed the Opus as two separate towers that are connected at their base and top where many of the guest amenities and services are located,” says Christos Passas, ZHA’s director on the project. “These connections coalesce the two towers into a singular cube with the void at its center.” To do this, the firm detailed the “void’s surface with a combination of glass with varying thickness, bent in different ways and fitted by using several different techniques,” Passas explains. One of those techniques was heating pieces of glass in temperatures as high as 1,300 degrees Fahrenheit before molding and quickly cooling them to increase their breaking strength.

Central Park Tower by Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill (New York City)

Designing a skyscraper in New York is an experience unlike building in nearly any other city in the world. The combination of architectural history, coupled with the sheer volume of foot traffic walking past (and flying above) buildings in the Big Apple, makes their presence a vital part of the city's identity. So when the Chicago-based architectural firm Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill was tapped to design the Central Park Tower, it recognized the sky-high expectations. Slated to be completed in 2020, Central Park Tower will be a shocking 1,549 feet tall, making it the second-tallest skyscraper in the United States and the Western Hemisphere (behind One World Trade Center), the 15th-tallest building in the world, and the tallest residential building in the world. Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture, however, is no stranger to working at these heights. The firm is responsible for extending the skyline in the Middle East with such structures as the Burj Khalifa in Dubai and the Kingdom Tower in Saudi Arabia. Yet, unlike those aforementioned locations, no matter the height, building in New York brings on a whole new host of challenges. “New York is one of the most iconic cities in the world,” says Gordon Gill, a founding member of the firm. “And much of this comes from its beautiful architecture. Understanding that and trying to design a building that will retain its own stature within that context has been a great opportunity. Contributing to New York’s skyline at that scale and becoming part of that legacy is a defining moment for any architect. That doesn’t happen every day." The structure consists of 179 luxury residences, while at the base, Nordstrom's will house its seven-floor flagship store. The location, on 57th Street between Columbus Circle and the Plaza District, means occupants will have uninhibited views of Central Park to the north. In the past, travelers arrived to New York (by car and air) would be greeted by dominating structures such as the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building. Now we can add Central Park Tower to that exclusive list of buildings that stand out upon first experience.

UNIC by MAD Architects (Paris)

Paris is a city steeped in classical architecture. Yet that won't be the case when MAD Architects' UNIC building is completed in 2020. Led by the Chinese-born virtuoso Ma Yansong, the residential structure will be located within the verdant setting of Martin Luther King Park. Playing off this theme, Yansong's undulating design is meant to blur the line between building and nature. The 13-story building is tall enough so that at the top floors, homeowners will have clear views of the Eiffel Tower (located to the southwest of the new residential building). Attached to MAD Architects' sleek structure will be an adjacent public housing project, as well as direct access to major metro and bus stops. While this is the Chinese firm's first residential project in Europe, we have a strong feeling it won't be the last.

Qianlong Garden by Selldorf Architects (Beijing, China)

Typically, iconic landmarks are stubbornly resistant to change. Lucky for us, that isn't the case for China's historic Qianlong Garden. Located in the northeast corner of the Forbidden City, the space was originally built by the fourth emperor of the Qing Dynasty (1644–1912) to serve as part of his planned retirement complex following his 60-year reign. The complex included—amid a private retreat, many pavilions and structures—several courtyards, displaying the cultural might of the Chinese empire at that time. For the past two decades, work has been in progress to renovate the Qianlong Garden. And this year, on the 600th anniversary of the Forbidden City, the New York–based Selldorf Architects will complete its design for an Interpretation Center at Qianlong Garden. This restoration project will be centrally located, allowing the public access to various sections of the Qianlong Garden. "With the design of the Interpretation Center, we wanted to create an immersive experience where people would feel the connection to the courtyard and the unique nature of Qianlong Garden," says Annabelle Selldorf, architect and founding principal of Selldorf Architects.

M+ Museum by Herzog & de Meuron (Hong Kong)

The venerable firm Herzog & de Meuron has built a strong reputation of designing iconic structures since their founding in the late 1970s. And its latest plan, Hong Kong's M+ Museum, promises to continue its record of excellence. The structure—which will house visual art, design and architecture, and moving images that represent Hong Kong from the last century to this one—will have a look and feel unlike most every museum on the planet. Much of that comes from the exterior, one that will be clad in LED lights. Illuminated at any time of the day, these lights will allows for commissioned works of art to be projected to audiences outside of the museum's interiors. “This structure is subverted by the transmitted message of the art, visible from afar with its LED lights, which will consequently make M+ a site of constant renewal, rather than being locked into a predefined form,” says Herzog & de Meuron. While the building is set for completion in 2020, the museum itself won't admit guests until 2021.

Courtyard Kindergarten by MAD Architects (Beijing, China)

Perhaps no other building completed in 2020 will better blend the design of new with old. The Beijing-based firm MAD Architects concocted a space that preserved the historical milieu while simultaneously adding a modern adaptation of an outdoor playground. “My ideal kindergarten is not a theme park, or a place of shelter,” says Ma Yansong, founder of MAD Architects. “It should be objective and real, but go beyond reality and provide some space for the unknown and imagination.” To that end, the firm went a long way to ensure the original courtyard, which dates back to 1725, would be protected in the new scene. After restoring the existing buildings for use, the plan included a rooftop that seemed to both float above the school and cut it off from the surrounding streets of the neighborhood. Soon, 400 children will be able to freely roam the undulating slopes of this beautifully designed rooftop playground. Schools are a place for limitless creativity and freedom. Much the same can be said for MAD Architects' design.

Vista Tower by Studio Gang (Chicago, Illinois)

Jeanne Gang, founder and leader of Studio Gang, is a once-in-a-generation-caliber architect whose designs bring natural wonder to the urban landscape. And her forthcoming series of skyscrapers proves, once more, her ability to add a defining characteristic to any skyline. Vista Tower, as the project is called, will be located along the Chicago River and in close proximity to the oft-traveled Lake Shore Drive, one of the main urban axes of the city. The project, which will cost roughly $1 billion, that will span some 1,191 feet into the air, making it the third-tallest skyscraper in Chicago. The lower portion of the building will house a hotel, while floors 13–93 will be all residential. Yet, much like Gang's other lauded designs, Vista was not just created for those who will be living within its walls, but also for the public walking past it each day. "The way the building steps in and out gives a sense of movement to passersby as light plays across the building throughout the day," says Juliane Wolf, Partner and Design Principal at Studio Gang. “The gradient of high-performance glass on the façade enhances the stepped façade, as it gets gradually lighter as the frustum fans out.” In other words, those who pass by will not only take notice, but likely enjoy the city's latest skyscraper.

Museum of Fine Arts by Steven Holl Architects (Houston, Texas)

Designing a space alongside buildings and gardens created by such luminaries as Mies van der Rohe, Rafael Moneo, and Isamu Noguchi is not a task for just anyone. But Steven Holl isn't just any typical architect. The American visionary has created such city-defining buildings as the Knut Hamsun Centre, the Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art, and Simmons Hall at MIT. While the museum opened roughly a century ago, it wasn't until 1958, with an addition by Mies van der Rohe, that the museum reached new architectural heights. Nearly a half-century later, and the Pritzker Prize–winning Spanish architect Rafael Moneo added his flair to the museum's footprint. Holl's addition, however, makes the museum complex more fluid, usable, and versatile. The Kinder Building, which will open to the public on November 1, 2020, offers a new museum model. For starters, the rooftop allows enough natural light to fill the galleries, without harming any of the priceless works of art on the walls. “The roof is envisioned as a ‘luminous canopy’ bringing light to the space,” says Steven Holl. “We imagined huge Texas clouds pushing down to create concave openings where natural light slides in.” The new Kinder Building forms an entry court at the corner with the Mies van der Rohe and Rafael Moneo buildings. Between these two iconic buildings, Holl's will play off the existing designs. “The Kinder Building’s translucent glass tube ‘cold-jacket’ façade is conceived in complementary and contrast to Mies’ transparent glass and steel exterior and Moneo’s opaque stone volume,” Holl continues. Once you come close to the renovated Museum of Fine Arts, Steven Holl has you in his hold. From the time you approach the new translucent glass façade, you are under his spell.

The Factory by OMA (Manchester, United Kingdom)

When the Factory is completed later this year, it will be OMA's first-ever major public building in the United Kingdom. This is quite a statement, as OMA has dazzled the world of architecture with such buildings as the Seattle Central Library, Portugal's Casa da Música, and the Netherlands Embassy in Berlin. After beating out other major firms in a international competition, OMA's design will serve as the new home of the Manchester International Festival (MIF) and as a year-round concert and arts venue. “The most surprising aspect will be the sheer size of spaces and the ways in which they can be configured,” says OMA partner Ellen van Loon, led on the project. “The venue will give MIF a building that is extremely flexible, constantly changing the interaction between back and front of house, inside and outside, art and public culture, audience and performers. There will really be no venue comparable in its versatility.” The venue, which will cost more than $140 million to complete, will be located on the site of the former Granada TV Studios. The economic impact of the project is estimated to create almost 1,500 full-time jobs and add $1.4 billion to the city’s economy in a 10-year period. And while the project is meant to help the city continue its successful push past its post-industrial slump, the design will still respect the city's identity. “Breathing the raw atmosphere of Manchester’s industrial past, its design aims to preserve the city’s rough edge, as a resistance to the pervasive beautification of inner cities,” says van Loon.

U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Museum by Diller Scofidio + Renfro (Colorado Springs, Colorado)

When describing the new U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Museum, rather than using the words space and outline, it’s best to say energy and movement. And that's because the series of buildings—which were designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DS+R)—appear to be suspended in motion. Much like the athletes and para-athletes the building was built for, the exterior was inspired by the very movements in which they excel. “The building is organized around a continuous pathway spiraling through a pinwheel series of cantilevered galleries,” says Benjamin Gilmartin, partner at DS+R. “This sequence of spaces is enveloped by a taut façade of shingled anodized panels that bend and stretch. The flexing, twisting expression of the building’s inner structure evokes a sense of aspiration and struggle. It’s a language of exertion and elegance in architectural terms, analogous to athletes’ performance—intuitively preparing visitors for the extraordinary stories of the Olympic and Paralympic athletes contained within.” DS+R is no stranger to designing museums (the New York–based firm recently completed a $450 million makeover of the iconic Museum of Modern Art). For the AD100 firm, creating a space that's accessible for all people is essential in designing a public museum. Yet it's one thing to want to create an inclusionary space for all people; it's another to ensure it happens. “Throughout the design process, we worked with a number of athletes with disabilities to make sure the museum could be a shared experience for all visitors,” Gilmartin explains, proving his firm went the extra mile to guarantee all guests felt welcome.

National Stadium by Kengo Kuma (Tokyo, Japan)

All eyes will be on Tokyo this summer as Japan kicks off the Summer Olympics. More specifically, however, all eyes will be on Tokyo's all-new National Stadium, as it will host the opening and closing ceremonies for both the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics. Designed by Japanese architect Kengo Kuma, the 65,000-seat stadium was partly inspired by Tokyo's Edo-period temples (1603 and 1868). This can be sensed by the abundant use of timber in the structure, leading to an overall warmer atmosphere (contrasting with the colder builds of traditional stadiums, which are typically designed with concrete and steel). While Kuma's stadium is harmonious in design, the process of completing the structure was anything but. The original plan was awarded to the late Zaha Hadid. Yet after many were critical of her sleek, modern design—and the exorbitant cost attached to it—the Japanese government looked inward for direction, eventually landing on Kengo Kuma. His design, which replaces the existing National Stadium from the 1950s, features a walkway on the fifth level that's been dubbed the Grove of the Sky. Located some 100 feet above street level, the half-mile walkway circles the stadium, allowing visitors to stroll past flowers and trees, or sit along a bench to enjoy views of Tokyo—and on clear days, Mt. Fuji.


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