Palacio de Bellas Artes, Mexico City

Adamo Boari and Federico Mariscal designed Mexico's Palace of Fine Arts in Mexico City, completed in 1934. Italian architect Boari was not able to complete the project, and Mexican native Mariscal took it over. As a result, Boari's Art Nouveau exterior is curiously combined with an Art Deco interior. Depictions of Apollo muses are mixed with regional Art Deco art. Much of this detailing is Native American, as the building was built over a significant Aztec sacrificial site.

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Mövenpick Hotel, Hamburg Germany

The Hamburg water tower was originally designed by William Black in 1910. The brick vaulted base of the tower was reused from a 1863 structure. After its decommission in 1930, it was converted to a planetarium. For some time tower reportedly stood unused until 2007 when it was converted to a hotel for Mövenpick. The hotel preserved the tower's concrete core and exterior brick facades. It has 226 rooms, a conference center for 180 people, bar, sauna, fitness center, and restaurant.

Local residents strongly protested the conversion to hotel, arguing that the public structure should remain public.

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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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