designboom picks 10 favorite architecture projects for forbes to celebrate our 20th birthday

designboom picks 10 favorite architecture projects for forbes to celebrate our 20th birthday

designboom has been online for 20 years, and, to celebrate this landmark, forbes magazine asked us to select our 10 favorite architectural projects from the past two decades. ‘designboom is known as the go-to designation for all things architecture, and fun fact — they were actually the first online magazine worldwide,’ says the influential business magazine. ‘it’s a platform that is crazy popular too, as they’ve built up a cult following over 20 years.’


see the chronologically ordered list below, published by forbes’ felicity carter, which includes projects by bjarke ingels, zaha hadid, and frank gehry. see forbes’ story here.

designboom 10 favorite projects



eden project (2001) by grimshaw architects

designboom 10 favorite projects
image © hufton + crow  — see designboom’s coverage of the project here



set inside a former china clay pit in southwest england, the eden project is a visitor attraction defined by its transparent ‘biomes’. these domes allow plants that have been collected from many diverse climates and environments to thrive in conditions they are accustomed to. designed by sir nicholas grimshaw’s london-based firm, the enormous yet lightweight, clear-span structures are as impressive as they are unique.



walt disney concert hall (2003) by frank gehry

designboom 10 favorite projects



boasting frank gehry’s signature sails that glint and gleam in the los angeles sunshine, gehry submitted his first design for the walt disney concert hall in 1991 — 12 years before it opened to the public in late 2003. at once eye-catching and elegant, the project simply couldn’t have been designed by anyone else.



seattle central library (2004) by OMA/rem koolhaas

designboom 10 favorite projects
image by nicola delfino | CC BY 2.0



built at a time when libraries were seemingly on the way out, the seattle central library created a new kind of civic space with programs intuitively arranged across five platforms and four flowing ‘in between’ planes — a layout that dictated the building’s distinctive faceted shape. with this project, OMA and rem koolhaas wanted to redefine the library as an ‘information store’ housing all forms of media — a particularly prescient ambition, considering how the world looks 16 years later.



mountain dwellings (2008) by bjarke ingels and julien de smedt

designboom 10 favorite projects
image by naotake murayama | CC BY 2.0



by stacking a housing block on top of a parking lot, bjarke ingels and julien de smedt sought to bring a man-made mountain to a country with a relatively flat terrain. the revolutionary design takes the form of a concrete hillside, with a thin layer of cascading housing ensuring all residents have fresh air, privacy, and roof gardens facing the sun. with this project, bjarke ingels gave the world a preview of the ‘promiscuous hybrids’ that would define the danish architect’s career to date.



neues museum (2009) by david chipperfield architects

designboom picks 10 favorite architecture projects for forbes to celebrate our 20th birthday
image by jean-pierre dalbéra | CC BY 2.0



in 1997, david chipperfield’s firm, in collaboration with restoration architect julian harrap, won an international competition to rebuild berlin’s famous neues museum. extensive bombing during the second world war had left the structure in ruins, meaning that much of the building had to be surgically restored piece by piece. chipperfield sought to replace the severely damaged elements with pared-back interventions identical in scale, but without the historical ornamentation or decoration.



the high line (2009) by james corner field operations, DS+R, and piet oudolf

designboom picks 10 favorite architecture projects for forbes to celebrate our 20th birthday
image © liz ligon — see designboom’s coverage of the project here



very few projects have changed the urban fabric of a city the way that the high line has for new york, an incredible feat considering that the entire structure was once destined for demolition. now one of the city’s most popular visitor attractions, the 1.45-mile-long (2.3km) elevated park has drawn crowds and commerce to a part of manhattan that was once undesirable, resulting in a host of luxury buildings and developments. the project has proved so popular it has since been imitated countless times across the globe.



EPFL rolex learning center (2010) by SANAA

designboom picks 10 favorite architecture projects for forbes to celebrate our 20th birthday
image by ricardo martins | CC BY-SA 3.0



open to both students of the swiss federal institute of technology in lausanne and the public, the rolex learning center functions as a laboratory for education, a library, and an international cultural hub. SANAA’s groundbreaking design spans a single, uninterrupted space that comprises gentle slopes and terraces that undulate around a series of internal patios. as far as educational architecture goes, the building is at the top of its class.



heydar aliyev center (2012) by zaha hadid

designboom picks 10 favorite architecture projects for forbes to celebrate our 20th birthday
image © hufton + crow — see designboom’s coverage of the project here



the jaw-dropping heydar aliyev center has become one of zaha hadid’s defining projects. the design is a contemporary reinterpretation of historic islamic architecture, with advanced computing used to realize the design’s complex geometry. completed in 2012, four years before the architect passed away, the cultural center is now a symbol of the azerbaijani capital where it expresses the optimism of nation looking to the future.



harbin opera house (2015) by MAD architects/ma yansong

image © adam mørk — see designboom’s coverage of the project here



located in china’s northernmost province, the harbin opera house emerges above the terrain as a sculptural extension of the landscape. in winter, this effect is magnified thanks to the snowfall that occurs in the region. inside, however, the spaces are warm and inviting. clad with manchurian ash, the wooden walls gently wrap around the interior, protecting visitors and emphasizing public interaction.



louvre abu dhabi (2018) by jean nouvel

designboom picks 10 favorite architecture projects for forbes to celebrate our 20th birthday
image by mohamed somji © louvre abu dhabi — see designboom’s coverage of the project here



referencing traditional emirati architecture, the louvre abu dhabi appears as a series of 55 white structures that mimic the low-lying settlements common to the region. these spaces are united by jean nouvel’s crowning feature, a huge dome, 590 foot (180 meter) in diameter, that appears to float above the entire museum. as the hot sun passes above, light filters through the perforations to create a captivating effect referred to as the ‘rain of light’.

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