Building North America
Daring, impressive and spectacular, this continent provides a setting where architects unleash their creative powers and realize their dreams in projects as vital as they are astonishing. Come along on a tour of the top architectural works in Canada, the United States and Mexico.
phOTO: Zaha Hadid Architects
520 WEST 28TH STREET
Dreams of a “Starchitect”
Part of the construction boom springing up around High Line Park in New York’s Chelsea neighborhood, the building designed by Iraqi “starchitect” Zaha Hadid may be generating the greatest expectations. It’s not only because this will be her first building in the city, but also because of her structure’s diagonal and dynamic form. An 11-story residential complex featuring 39 apartments, the project should be completed in 2016.
Far from the mega-constructions one is used to seeing in Manhattan, this new building will act as a harmonic continuation of the High Line landscape – the city’s most important public space in the past decade – with a design that employs undulating shapes and forms, a Hadid trademark.
Location: 520 West 28th St., New York, USA
Year: Under construction
Architect: Zaha Hadid
phOTO: BIG – Bjarke Ingels Group
THE BIG PIN
Check out one of the greatest examples of architectural expression in the United States today. Still in the concept stage, this avant-garde and futuristic project would raise an enormous observation tower that completely changes the Phoenix skyline. The design gets people’s attention with a levitating sphere and spiraling spine. Visitors would have access by means of three glass elevators, and the space would be a welcoming environment for art, business and entertainment.
Location: Phoenix, Arizona, USA
Year: On the drawing board
phOTO: Iwan Baan
THE BROAD MUSEUM
Boasting some 120,000 square feet of space for showcasing one of the largest contemporary art collections in the world, the Broad Museum consists of two key areas. The “vault” is the heart of the building, which includes the foundation offices, meeting areas and art storage spaces, while the hive-like structure of the “veil” covers the entire building with 2,500 fiberglass panels that let natural light into the building’s third and final floor, where the works are exhibited. The project was conceived by the New York firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro, which also designed High Line Park and Lincoln Center in Manhattan.
Location: Los Ángeles, California, USA
Architect: Diller Scofidio + Renfro
FOTO: Adam Weisman
The impossible building
Carlos Slim, the second wealthiest man in the world, commissioned this magnificent building as a tribute to the memory of his late wife, Souyama Domit. The spectacular museum has been described as “a moving trapezoid” or, more poetically, “a shiny silver cloud-like structure reminiscent of a Rodin sculpture.” The work is sublime, and it represented an enormous challenge for architect Fernando Romero.
The museum’s structure is extremely complex, with each of its floors a different shape. The weight of the building is sustained by a skeleton of 28 curved columns and seven slabs of cement. With its 16,000 hexagons of shining aluminum, the project was described at the time as “impossible to build,” and the difficult task of making the dream a reality was entrusted to a firm led by legendary architect Frank Gehry: Gehry Technologies was able to complete this feat of three-dimensional engineering.
Location: Mexico City
Architect: LAR+ Fernando Romero
CANADIAN MUSEUM FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
A triumph of light
An impressive mix of stone, concrete, steel and glass, this museum is an especially relevant work for the city of Winnipeg and the result of an international competition won by renowned U.S. architect Antoine Predock. Inaugurated in late 2014, some critics compare its visual impact to that of the Guggenheim in Bilbao. The design symbolizes the triumph of human rights during the darkest periods of humanity through the generous amount of light that penetrates its glass “cloud” wrapped around the building and the “Tower of Hope” that rises above it.
Location: Winnipeg, Canada
Architect: Antoine Predock
phOTO: latinstock / corbis
THE PEACE BRIDGE
Los Caminantes / Pedestrians Rule
March 24, 2012. As a Scottish military fanfare plays loudly, hundreds of Canadians come together to cross – for the first time – the Peace Bridge, a work by acclaimed Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava. The structure allows the people of Calgary to cross the Bow River on foot or bicycle, with about 6,000 pedestrians and cyclists using the bridge each day. The 428-foot-long tube-like creation was manufactured in Spain and later assembled in Canada. Thanks to its design, which includes a glass roof, the environmental impact is minimal. Painted red (to complement the winter snow) and white (to contrast against the autumn leaves), this unique structure has been praised for its simplicity, design and usefulness.
Location: Calgary, Canada
Architect: Santiago Calatrava
phOTO: Craig Scott
CITY VIEW GARAGE
Located on the periphery of Miami’s Design District, the City View Garage has been described as a “parking palace.” The structure is covered with impressive undulating stainless-steel panels that give the building a futuristic and contemporary personality. From afar, it resembles a shining mirage, like light reflected on water. “The garages are our major creative opportunity to express ourselves as the neighborhood,” says the company that built it. The prestigious firm Leong Leong also contributed to the design of this garage, which features two monumental works by artist John Baldessari on its façade. It’s just one more step in transforming the Design District into a dream destination.
Location: Miami, Florida, USA
Architect: IwamotoScott Architecture
phOTO: francisco quezada
Mexico from above
This December, Mexico City will set its sights higher, with the Torre Reforma. At 807 feet, it will be the tallest building in the country, but the entrance to the imposing skyscraper preserves the original façade of the 1929 home that was on site when construction began – the structure is protected by Mexico’s Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes y Literatura. Upon completion, the tower will feature 57 floors, nine underground levels and 818,000 square feet of modernist architecture, all capable of withstanding earthquakes of up to 9.0 on the Richter scale.
Location: Mexico City
Architect: LBR Arquitectos
PHOTO: Brewster Canada
Walking on air
It’s a shame that Galileo never had the opportunity to see the Glacier Skywalk. He would have been awestruck by this construction and its spectacular views. The lookout hangs over a 918-foot drop and stretches for almost 1,500 feet to allow a nearly 360-degree panorama of one of Canada’s most spectacular mountain ranges. Designed by Sturgess Architecture and inaugurated in May 2014, the structure was conceived as a natural extension of the dazzling landscape and has received numerous awards. One of the best descriptions of the Glacier Sidewalk defines it as “a simple, elegant yet highly emotional project.”
Location: Jasper National Park, Canada
Architect: Sturgess Architecture
phOTO: Peter J. Schulz
Life is green
One individual was clearly responsible for this initiative: Richard Daley, the former mayor of Chicago. Through the window of his office, Daley used to look with dismay at the vast parking spaces and old railroad line below. Tired of the dilapidated, industrial tone of the area, he decided to create a park. To finance the idea, he solicited contributions from private businesses and public citizens alike. And it all came together: vision, money and the support of famous designers like Frank Gehry. Today, Millennium Park is a hub full of art, greenery, office workers having lunch on the grass and families enjoying outings. The park welcomes some 4.5 million visitors every year.
Location: Chicago, Illinois, USA