Dali Museum, St. Petersburg Florida

Yann Weymouth of HOK designed the Salvador Dali art Museum artin St. Petersburg Florida, completed in 2011. The cold concrete box refers to the old museum from 1982, a gray uninviting warehouse. Geodesic spills out the front in a sparkling organic geometry and pouring out into the landscape.

This surreal form is massive, at 75 ft high and 105 ft wide. The dichotomy between concrete and glass, rigid and organic, also involves safety. The building is designed to withstand 165-mph wind of any storm that might hit it. The exterior contcrete is 18 inches thick.

A staircase swirles up from the front lobby in a double helix to a kind of dome, diminishing as it rises. Concrete, steel, and glazing come together at this point, in a wonderful interplay of materials and form.

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Queen Victoria Building, Sydney Australia

George McRae designed the Queen Victoria marketplace in 1898. The sandstone Romanesque Revival design uses metal structure modern for the time with classic Romanesque aesthetics and some Gothic elements, popular for America. Colorful stained glass articulates the grand design intentions, with a vast interior of glass for the main dome and grand rose windows greeting the visitor at the entrance.

Victorian elements can be seen in the long pathways of the market. The various markets in England had full barrel-vaults of glass, a simple layout. The sides of this path are lined with arcades and floored with intricate murals. The architectural language is masterful and the overall impression endearing.


Sevilla La Seta Metropol Parasol, Spain

Jürgen Mayer-Hermann designed the wooden pavilion over La Encarnación square in Seville, Spain. It was completed in 2011. The soaring 26m vaults are inspired by the largest Gothic cathedral in the world, the Catedral de Santa María de la Sede in Seville. Old Roman ruins are displayed in the underground level. Vast stairways lead to public venues on the main plaza and terraces give rise to winding walkways atop the structure. Much like a raised forest walkway, one feels above the city.

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Nittele Tower, Tokyo Japan

Richard Rogers designed the Nittele Tower for Nippon Television in Minato, Tokyo, completed in 2003. It is 192m tall. Circulation is pushed out to either end of the thin site and glazing on either side of the flexible worspace. The steel, concrete, and glazing use passive solar techniques for climate control. It rises boldly and expresses its structure, like the CCTV building in China, but at ground level is quarky and uses elements that are warm and inviting.

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Haukiputas Parish Centre, Haukipudas Finland

Ilmari Lahdelma of 8-Studio designed the Haukiputaan seurakuntakeskus next to the historic Haukiputas Church in Finland. Completed in 1990, the center offers additional space for worship and teaching services.

The visitor enters from a facade of glass blocks. The butterfly roof breaks up the form into two sections and pushes movement toward the large end of the building. A grid of small square windows punch through this large end to portray a permanence and yet ongoing repetition of the grid pattern, culminating at the main cross. Light fixtures are hung low on a grid pattern to emphasize this design.

The original church building was built in 1762 by Viktor J. Sucksdorff. Grand murals by Mikael Toppelius wrap around the inside walls and ceiling. The minimalism of the interior in this Parish Center and the grid of form and light gives the structure religious meaning.

First two images used under CC Public domain license, offered by Estormiz.


Rotterdam Central Station, Netherlands

Benthem Crouwel, MVSA, and West 8 designed the Rotterdam Centraal railway station. A grand entrance greets travelers from the main city. This striking angular lobby breaks up the city grid and gestures them into the gridded platforms. It transitions the traveler from the urban experience to the speed and time of the railway car. Triangular lighting gives way to an undulating roof of patterned skylights.

The image is monumental and provides an international greeting from those arriving from abroad. But there is also a rhythm in the materials and structure that speaks of travel and the surrounding environment. It is also very large, accomodating up to 110,000 passengers each day. It was completed in March 2014.

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