We’re back with our second annual “Coolest Buildings of the Year” list. The criteria for making the list is simple, the building must have been topped out, completed or opened in 2014 and be cool. 2014 was a bit of a disappointment, not because there weren’t plenty of cool buildings to choose from but because of the buildings we were looking forward to seeing completed last year got derailed.
It was supposed to be the year that we got the world’s tallest modular construction with the Atlantic Yards (now Pacific Park) B2 (now B2 BKLYN) project. It was the year that Sky City, another prefabricated project, was going to trump the Burj Khalifa as the world’s tallest building and scheduled to be completed in a whopping 90 days, which was later changed to seven months. 2014 was also the year we were going to see the world’s first “invisible” skyscraper, Tower Infinity, which will be able to appear and disappear with the use of high definition cameras and LED screens on the building.
Unfortunately, all of these projects were either postponed or had construction delayed that prevented them from being completed this year. We could probably do a whole article on the most anticipated buildings of 2014 that didn’t happen. Okay, enough about what could have been, let’s get on with the list.
1. Leadenhall Building – London, United Kingdom
Nicknamed the Cheesegrater because of its distinctive shape resemblance to said kitchen utensil, the Leadenhall Building doesn’t have a central core and structural stability is provided by an external steel mega-frame, the tallest of its kind, like a giant exoskeleton. At the back of the building is the northern core, where a separate, non-structural steel frame is painted a distinctive yellow to distinguish it from the rest of the building, houses the passenger and elevator lifts, service risers and restrooms to which can all be seen through the glass façade to show off the inner workings of the building. The passenger elevators are orange, service elevators are green and the windows for the men’s and women’s restrooms are opaque blue and red, respectively. The physical plant, housed in the “attic” of the building, is also visible through the glazed façade.
The tapered shape of the building was designed to prevent obstructed views of St. Paul’s Cathedral from Fleet Street. About 85% of the building was prefabricated offsite which is phenomenal for a building of this size. The building was designed by Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners and constructed by Laing O’Rourke.
2. Wood Innovation and Design Centre – Prince George, British Columbia
This project was built as a “proof of concept” to demonstrate the feasibility of tall wood buildings and to promote the sustainability and innovative uses of wood. The 96-ft. tall building is the world’s tallest contemporary wood building. All of the wood used in the building was locally sourced in British Columbia and includes hemlock, spruce, pine, cedar and Douglas fir. The building also features a number of engineered wood products such as glulam beams and columns, cross laminated timber, laminated veneer lumber and mass timber walls. Much like the concept of tall wood buildings, this project was mired in controversy from skirting the six-story building height limit with a special exemption to allegations of bidding improprieties. The project was designed by Michael Green Architects and built by PCL Constructors Westcoast.
3. Wangjing SOHO – Beijing, China
The Wangjing SOHO consists of three curvilinear shaped towers whose appearance has been compared to Chinese fans, koi and sails on ships. The design and architecture of these buildings are so cool it has already inspired a copycat project called Meiquan 22nd Century in Chongqing. Building Information Modeling (BIM) was used in the design and construction of the Wangjing SOHO project and is received LEED Gold precertification thanks to elements like the pure drinking water filtration system and the Intelligent Building Management System (IBMS). The project was designed by Zaha Hadid, the first woman to win the Pritzker Architecture Prize, and was built by the China State Construction Engineering Corporation.
4. Rotterdam Market Hall – Rotterdam, Netherlands
This is definitely one of the most interesting mixed-use buildings we’ve come across. The horseshoe-shaped apartment building provides cover for the open air market. Underneath the building are three floors that house an underground supermarket and a 1,200-space parking garage. The arches on either end of the building are 131-ft. tall glazed cable net façades to keep out the rain and that can flex in and out with the wind for ventilation. The building, designed by MVRDV and constructed by J.P. van Eesteren, was the perfect solution to bringing more housing into the area and complying with a new Dutch law that prohibited the sale of fish and meat in the open air.
5. Sunrise Kempinski Hotel – Beijing, China
This hotel is constructed of reinforced concrete with an exterior made up of 10,000 glass panels. The panels are angled in such a way that the top portion reflects the sky, the middle reflects the Yanshan Mountain nearby and the bottom reflects the adjacent Yanqi Lake. Natural gas is used to heat and cool the building which also relies on hydroelectric and solar power for the lighting. The hotel even has its own gas power generation system. The hotel was built to withstand an 8.0 magnitude earthquake. The project was designed by Zhang Hai Ao with Shanghai Huadu Architect Design Company and incorporated Chinese symbology throughout the architecture.
What do you think, is there a building you feel should have made the list, let us know in the comments section below.