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Dec 15, 2010
2010 has been the year of new architectural experiences. While there was the usual slew of sleek buildings opening, the most important trends of the year were brand new innovations, and a tightening focus on how to make them sustainable. The common Character Approved theme in all the items on this list is that they added new dimensions to how we discover buildings. Whether it be new electronic venues, designs that balance old and new, or brilliant re-imaginings of how to connect parts of cities together, each of the items advance what we think of as Architecture.
1. Architecture and Social Networking.
What happens when you connect people's mobile phone cameras to social networking systems? A whole new way of experiencing the cities around us. Sites like Architizer and OpenBuildings allow visitors to explore architecture anywhere in the world. They're growing as fast as your 3G network can upload pictures to them. It's a fundamental shift in how we visualize, understand, and explore architecture.
2. LEED Version 3.
Sustainable building practices could be on this list any year, yet they merit inclusion this year with the introduction of LEED Version 3. This revision to the green standard in building design is refocused to make it more effective, and casts green guidelines as an ever-evolving conversation.
3. Make It Right New Orleans.
The Fifth Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina this year was a good opportunity to review what progress had been made in rebuilding New Orleans. The organization Make It Right, mostly known as the pet project of celebrity sponsor Brad Pitt, published its results. They have built 20% of the homes promised in the three years they have been active, combining the input of the communities, the inventiveness of architects, green technology, and a lot of good urban planning.
4. Lincoln Center's New Facelift.
What to do with aging urban arts campuses that were heavily based in the anti-urban planning ideas of the 1950s? This was the unenviable question facing Lincoln Center in New York City when it undertook a massive renovation project a few years ago. They took the challenge head on by hiring Diller Scofidio + Renfro, whose design interventions brilliantly reorient the original monumental buildings. The result is a new standard in arts campus renovation.
5. Inner-City Arts.
Included in a recently opened MoMA show is the Inner-City Arts Building by Michael Maltzan Architecture. Located in central Los Angeles, the building is an open-courtyard arts oasis for kids in a challenging urban environment. While it was done on a budget and is understated in its material palette, it is nothing short of the most awesome after-school arts building ever.
6. Assassin's Creed 2.
New architectural experiences are showing up everywhere you look these days, including the gaming console. Assassin's Creed 2 not only takes us to Renaissance Italy, but gives us vantage points of important buildings in Florence and Venice that are uniquely available to only our character, Ezio. It is like a playable, walkable, time-traveling Google Street View. And like the websites in #1 on this list, this kind of game opens up entirely new avenues of architectural visitation and expression.
7. Calatrava Visits Denver.
Denver Airport's main terminal, designed by Curt Fentress, opened in 1995 to much fanfare for its huge, tent-like roof, which is perfectly nestled against the surrounding Rocky Mountains. Yet missing from it is a hotel (DIA is far from any hotel) and a rail link to the city's light rail system. Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava and US design firm Gensler designed a new hotel and rail link addition the main terminal building. The rail station is like many of Calatrava's train stations: beautiful and skeletal; bearing a resemblance to large, white musical instruments.
8. St. Louis Arch Gets a New Park.
The Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, commonly known as the St. Louis Arch, is home to Eero Saarinen's stainless steel monumental arch surrounded by a large park by Dan Kiley. The design, while an icon around the nation, is not a best friend to the rest of St. Louis. The Framing a Modern Masterpiece competition sought to remedy that recently by announcing the winner of their arch redesign competition, Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates. Valkenburgh's winning design reconnects the St. Louis Arch to its home city by dissolving some of the brutal barriers between the two.
9. Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park: Under Construction (After 37 Years).
Latest in the pantheon of Great Works of Architecture Completed Long After The Architect Is Dead comes the Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park. The park was designed by legendary architect Louis I. Kahn in 1973. Recently the park broke ground and is online to be open next year. Architects can take comfort in knowing that that one favorite design that didn't get built might just still happen a few decades after they've died.
10. Serpentine Gallery Pavilion.
While London's Serpentine Gallery Pavilion competition has been ho-hum the last few years, the architect Jean Nouvel turbocharged this year's (very, very red) entry. The architect, who has created iconic public and private buildings all over the United States, took London by storm while at the same time creating something elegant and luscious.
[Images: Architizer, Tropolism, Make It Right, Lincoln Center, MoMA, Assassin's Creed 2, Denver Post, Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, archdaily, David Levene]