I discovered this Marin Headlands view of the Golden Gate Bridge on one of my very first trips to San Francisco. In my three-plus years living in the Bay Area, I still haven’t found a view to top it. My favorite time to visit is just after sunset, when most tourists are fleeing from the evening breeze and the lights from the Golden Gate are just beginning to glow. If you’re lucky, you might witness an illuminated container ship as it exits the Bay on its way to Asia.
This vantage point is on the North side of the Golden Gate—for the active traveler it's a lovely green hike after a stroll across the bridge but alternately you can dive up. There's also a closer view at the base of the hill.
Modern Architectural Wonders
Buildings and structures around the world that embrace the industrial and the natural.
BARCELONA, Spain -- After a 6-month and €23 million investment renovation project, the Hilton Barcelona is open for business. Hot spot: The hotel's Atrium Bar includes an art installation centerpiece created by Italian-born Jacopo Foggini. His art work is divine. What do you think?
Maxxi, Rome’s first major contemporary art museum, cost €150 million and took renowned architect Zaha Hadid 10 years to complete. The result—a vast, bold space with exhibits on architecture and art—proves that modern Rome can produce masterpieces, too.
Via Guido Reni 4A, 39/06-3996-7350, fondazionemaxxi.it. Photo by Juan Vinasco. This appeared in the May/June 2011 issue.
Antonio Gaudi's vision for the ceiling of the Segrada Familia is incredibly stunning. The columns have a tree branch look and are another example of his ability to merge nature with architecture.
The city’s most famous snowbird, architect Frank Lloyd Wright, spent winters at his home and architecture school in the Sonoran desert. Taliesin West brings the horizontal lines and organic materials of Prairie School design to the desert landscape in low, sky-lit buildings. Behind-the-scenes tours visit the pop-up structures that students have designed as living spaces amid the barrel cactus and palo verde trees.
12345 N. Taliesin Dr., (480) 627-5340.
CDG can be cramped, hot, crowded and unpleasant. Yet if you have the time to really explore before takeoff, or during a layover, the airport can be a treasure trove of beautiful angles and a feast for the eyes of any fan of modern architecture.
During my last stay in Seoul, I spent most of my time in the historic heart of the city north of the Han river. I did take a Sunday afternoon, though, to walk around the Gangnam district--the chic high-rise dominated neighborhood south of the river. (As recently as a few decades ago, this area was still rice-paddies...)
Just around the corner from Bong-eun-sa temple (which dates from the 8th century), this striking building caught my eye: the headquarters for the Hyundai Development Company. Designed by renowned architect Daniel Libeskind, it's known as "The Tangent." In the architect's words, "the Tangent is a project that is about the relationship between the ever changing circle of nature and the straight line of technology." (Those words could also succinctly describe the recent history of post-war Korea...)
In my mind, though, because this structure reminds me of one of my favorite...
One of the most distinctive buildings in central Seoul is the 33-story Jongno Tower, a triangular glass and steel tower topped with an oval floating above seven stories of emptiness.
Across the street is the traditionally reconstructed "Bo-shin-gahk" belfry, housing a large bronze bell. During the Joseon dynasty, the bell would be rung 33 times every morning, (symbolizing the 33 heavens of Buddhism), to open the city's gates. At dusk, the bell would be rung 28 times (linked to the locations of constellations) to signal the shutting of the city's gates.
The original bell is now in the National Museum, but a reproduction still hangs here, and every December 31st, it's struck 33 times to ring in the New Year.
The basement of the Jongno Tower connects with the subway and a shopping arcade, including "Bandi and Luni's," one of Seoul's largest bookstores, with a good selection of English...
The latest architectural highlight in Frankfurt is a futuristic shopping complex (mall) called MyZeil. It is one of the most significant inner city development projects in Europe, designed by Roman architect Massimiliano Fuksas, with an eye-popping glass facade along the Zeil in the shape of a vortex and a spectacular interior. It’s definitely a welcome addition to the placid landscape of Frankfurt’s pedestrian zone and city center.
Palau Güell is an early Gaudí masterpiece, designed for his longtime benefactor, Eusebi Güell. The mansion, one of Gaudí's first big projects, was recently restored and re-opened to the public. The centerpiece of the building is the amazing ceiling/skylight and a rooftop full of chimnies. Palau Güell is worth the visit if only to see some of Gaudí's early genius, especially his interest in turning something functional (a chimney!) into a magical work of art.
Though less popular than Gaudí's more famous Sagrada Familia, Park Güell, and Casa Mila, prepare to wait in line. When I visited, tickets were sold for entrance every fifteen minutes, seemingly based on capacity. Buy your ticket at the window before joining the queue. Audioguides are included in the price so don't forget to pick one up on your way in.
On the western edge of Paris, at the end of the grand 'axe historique' that runs from the Louvre down the Champs Élysées and on past the Arc de Triomphe, rises the futuristic skyscraper business district known as "La Défense."
Its centerpiece is the thirty-story tall 'hollow cube' monument/office building known as "La Grande Arche de La Défense." Built in time for the bicentennial of the French Revolution, it's covered in white Italian marble.
La Défense isn't done growing. Plans have been approved for the Hermitage Towers--a project designed by British architect Norman Foster. When finished, these twin towers will be the tallest skyscrapers in Europe.
It's worth leaving the historic core of Paris to come spend a few hours here--the pedestrian-only plaza beneath La Grande Arche can be a good place to watch rollerbladers, and in December hosts an open-air "marché de Noël."
Love it or hate it, the stainless steel curves of downtown L.A.'s Walt Disney Concert Hall are arrestingly eye-catching. Designed by Frank Gehry and completed in 2003, the building is a metallic marvel. Even if you can't take one of the mid-day guided tours, it's worth 'snooping around' the free open-to-the-public areas.
To get here: corner of Grand and First,
downtown Los Angeles.
For more info:
Gaudi's work always amazes me. It's hard to believe and remember sometimes that most of his work was actually done in the 1800s! It looks so modern, or what I think of as modern! I was really impressed by the rooftop of La Pedrera! I felt like every and any picture I took there looked incredible. For some reason this building really reminded me of some of the architecture/dwellings in Eastern Turkiye and other parts of the Middle East. These structures almost remind me of the ferry chimneys, and the walls of this building also somewhat remind me of something like the dwellings in Mardin. Gaudi uses so many different elements from different cultures/styles, and from nature. Almost everything he has done is somehow based in nature. This building itself looks incredible, but when touring the museum I was shocked to see how many models Gaudi had made. The models themselve seem impossible,...
Busan is an extremely dynamic city full of wonderful architecture, a dramatic cityscape surrounded by mountains, a beautiful coast, and tons of public art.
One of the coolest areas to see a plethora of public art is Centum City. This area is beautiful around sunset and is great for a stroll along the river. Most of the public art is lit up at night which gives it all a wonderful effect with the cityscape illuminated in the background.
It is also amazing to see the Busan Cinema Center lit up at night with its large cantilever roof (Guinness World Record Holder)and LED array. Be sure to check the times for the LED display at the Busan Cinema Center because they only light up the roof for 90min each night.
One of the highlights of Denver is the Daniel Liebeskind-designed addition to the Denver Art Museum juxtaposed next to the Michael Graves-designed Denver Public Library. Circle the two properties if you have time—new vistas will reveal themselves every few feet.
Architects should be cultural agents who are concerned with both good and functional design. For me, Lina Bo Bardi and her raw, modernist architecture exemplified this. She really thought about the people who would use her spaces. My favorite example of her work is SESC Pompéia, a cultural center where old and young gather to play soccer, swim, enjoy theater and dance, or just stroll along the boardwalk. —Zahira Asmal
Rua Clélia 93, 55/(0) 11-3871-7700. Photo by Greg Balfour Evans/Alamy. This appeared in the March/April 2013 issue. Read more about Designing South Africa and Designing Brazil founder Zahira Asmal.