While engineering and design is systematically improving on a day-to-day basis, world witnesses the rising of structures that reflect the real architectural brilliance behind them. While you can point of any number of leaning towers, churches and temples, or giant presidential faces cut into mountains, we wanted to celebrate architectural marvels that innovate, excite, and defy the laws of physics. These are engineering and design at their level best.
This, being the tallest bridge in the world, is located across river Tarn in South France. With a mast reaching up to 343 meters from the base of the structure to the tippy top. While it isn’t bright orange and accented by the fog of the San Francisco Bay, its airy appearance wrought by engineer Michel Virlogeux and the famed architect Norman Foster is even more impressive.
Crafted by the mind of Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava to stand in Sweden, Turning Torso is the tallest building in the lands of the Nord. Its design emulates the human spine when being turned naturally, as it’s a set of stacked cubes twisting around a central point. From bottom to top the entire curvature of the building is a full 90-degrees. It’s a luxury residence complete with gym, spa, and, most importantly, huge wine cellar.
Walt Disney Concert Hall
The place where the LA philharmonic calls home, the mouse’s hall was designed by Frank Gehry, who managed to make the outside look ultra-modern and playful, despite being steel, and line the inside with acoustically adroit hardwoods that provide a warm atmosphere and crystal-clear sound.
Soaring over the sprawling city of Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, the Petronas Towers by Cesar Pelli were the world’s tallest buildings for 6 years, and remain the tallest twin bodies on the planet. While their soaring height is impressive, the real story lies beneath the surface, where they have the deepest foundation ever made, cut deep into the soft rock.
Central Television HQ, China
A building that attempts to find plurality, the design comes from architects Rem Koolhaas and Ole Scheeren with engineering handled by Cecil Balmond to offer a visage that is both strong and soft, large and small, angular and sloped depending on how it is viewed. Koolhaas wrote a curious manifesto about the building, which is worth a read.
Beijing National Stadium
Colloquially known as the “Bird’s Nest” for obvious reasons, was crafted exclusively for the 2008 Beijing Olympic games by architects Herzog and Pierre de Meuron along with Li Xinggang, with help from numerous others. Rather than being constructed in the woven, stylized fashion, it’s actually been stripped of adornment to show the beams underneath in a fully transparent style free of pomp.
Besides riverboat gambling, there’s probably no other reason to visit St. Louis, USA besides the Gateway. This steel rainbow was devised as a tourist attraction to revitalize the area back in the 1940’s, with construction finally concluding in the 60’s, and opening to the public in 1967. The design was done by Eero Saarinen who won an open competition, but it is constantly being updated with new features, adding extra value to visitors.
Burj Al Arab
A culmination of many of the styles rendered elsewhere on this list, the Burj Al Arab stands as a symbol of Dubai’s modern outlook, with opulence in abundance when you enter this gorgeous hotel. Made to represent a sloop with full sail, it accomplishes the illusion of motion along with the standard towering nature of an ordinary skyscraper. It’s the vision of Tom Wright in a lovely collaboration between east and west.
The tallest building in the world is lauded as a center for international cooperation. Its design came out of the windy city, from the Chicago firm of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP. The firm used a triple-core design inspired by the Hymenocallis flower in order to give enough steadiness to support the multiple observation decks and pinpoint reaching toward the heavens.