Building high, adding on, and starting with carte blanche—Architectural Digest takes a snapshot of the state of architecture today by looking at 14 new projects that do just that. The quest to construct New York City’s tallest residence is changing the Manhattan skyline just as the world's first super high-rise neighborhood is taking shape in Shanghai's Pudong district. With his successful expansion of Louis Kahn's Kimbell Art Museum under his belt, Renzo Piano flirts with historic structures in Boston and Paris, while Steven Holl goes face-to-face with Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s masterpiece of modern architecture in Glasgow, Scotland. Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Shigeru Ban make their marks with a string of new museums opening across North and South America. Thirty years after Coop Himmelb(l)au’s now iconic design for a remodel of a Vienna rooftop helped usher in Deconstructivist architecture, the firm’s fragmented forms are popping up in three major projects throughout Europe. Also early proponents of Deconstruction, Daniel Libeskind and Zaha Hadid trade in tortured typologies for soaring structures in China—the former with the Zhang ZhiDong and Modern Industrial Museum in Wuhan, China, the latter with the Jockey Club Innovation Tower in Hong Kong.

1. Aspen Art Museum, Aspen, Colorado

(Shigeru Ban Architects)

For his first museum in the U.S., Japanese architect Shigeru Ban has devised a striking variation on the wood lattice of his idiosyncratic Centre Pompidou-Metz while at the same time paring down the structure. The boxy 33,000-square-foot Aspen Art Museum boasts three levels of exhibition space beneath a rooftop sculpture garden that offers mountain views. According to the museum’s CEO and director Heidi Zuckerman Jacobson, “Ban’s commitments to both the environment and humanitarian efforts made him a unanimous choice. His selection assured an architecturally appropriate, environmentally sound, and culturally significant venue for contemporary art in the core of Aspen.”

2. Jockey Club Innovation Tower, Hong Kong

(Iwan Baan / Zaha Hadid Architects)

Zaha Hadid’s dynamic Jockey Club Innovation Tower slices through its tight, irregularly shaped plot on the campus of Hong Kong Polytechnic University. Seamlessly integrating a concrete podium with a louvered glass façade on the upper levels, the 250-foot-tall building houses the institution’s design education and research programs and includes a lecture hall, classrooms, design studios, and workshops, as well as exhibition spaces and a communal viewing lounge.

3. Grand Theatre D'Albi, Albi, France

(Dominique Perrault Architecture)

The little-known southern French town of Albi will soon be home to a grand theater by one of the country’s leading architects, Dominique Perrault. Located on the fringe of the historic city, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the building includes a 900-seat auditorium for live performances as well as a 250-seat experimental hall and several cinemas. Acting as a reflective curtain, a curved copper-color metal mesh covers the red metal-clad façade.

4. Museum of Image and Sound, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

(Diller Scofido + Renfro)

With Rio de Janeiro set to serve as a host city for the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics, the tropical metropolis is undergoing a transformation. In 2009, Diller Scofidio + Renfro won a competition to design the Museum of Image and Sound along Rio’s famous Copacabana Beach. The vertical ribbonlike scheme recalls the firm’s design from a decade ago for the unrealized Eyebeam Museum yet takes its cues from the surrounding coastline and mountains as well as the beach promenade by famed Brazilian landscape architect Roberto Burle Marx.

5. Shanghai Tower, Shanghai, China


At 2,073 feet, Gensler’s Shanghai Tower will be the tallest building in China and the second tallest in the world after Dubai’s Burj Khalifa. Rising alongside Skidmore, Owings & Merrill’s Jin Mao Tower and Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates’ Shanghai World Financial Center in the city’s Pudong district, the new structure completes a triumvirate of megatall buildings in the world’s first super high-rise neighborhood. Contained within its asymmetrical, spiraling form are 121 floors of retail, office, and hotel space.

6. Three museums in one, Cambridge, Massachusetts

It’s no small task to combine three world-class art museums into one, but leave it to Renzo Piano—who just completed an expansion of Louis Kahn’s Kimbell Art Museum in Texas and is building a new home for the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York—to get the job done. Piano’s scheme consolidates Harvard’s Fogg, Busch-Reisinger, and Sackler museums with a 200,000-square-foot addition, whose glazed rooftop, a prominent feature of the new construction, will allow controlled natural light into the conservation lab, study centers, galleries, and courtyard below.

7. Musee Des Confluences, Lyon, France

(Wolf D. Prix & Partner, Coop Himmelb(l)au)

Named for its location at the confluence of the Rhone and Saône rivers in Lyon, France, the 500,000-square-foot Musée des Confluences takes Coop Himmelb(l)au’s steel-and-glass assemblages to a grand scale. The architects break down the complex structure into two elements they call the Crystal and the Cloud. The Crystal functions as a transparent urban forum facing the city, while the Cloud, sitting next to it and resembling a spaceship, features a sequence of black boxes containing exhibition spaces.

Check out more of the most anticipated architectural wonders of 2014.

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