Top 10 Most Influential Projects in Architecture
1 Burj Khalifa
A towering symbol of economic diversification in the Middle East, the world's tallest building looms 828 meters (2,717 feet) above Dubai. The US$1.5 billion project's ingenious buttressed core system stabilizes the building even when high-speed winds whip the top.
2 Sydney Opera House
One of the most distinctive buildings of the 20th century, the opera house elevated Australia's global image and ushered in the modern era of landmark architecture. Despite being behind schedule and massively overbudget when it was finally delivered in 1973, the building has become the country's top tourist destination and the planet's youngest cultural UNESCO World Heritage site.
3 Guggenheim Bilbao
This Frank Gehry-designed marvel—which has been pulling in hundreds of thousands of tourists every year since it opened in 1997—sparked a remarkable turnaround for the city of Bilbao, Spain. The benefits were so impressive that the building spawned its own economic concept, “the Bilbao effect”: when cultural investment plus high-profile architecture combine to lift a city's economy.
4 Centre Pompidou
Since its debut in 1977, this pioneering structure in Paris, France has attracted millions of visitors. Designed as an “evolving spatial diagram,” the now-iconic inside-out look means each floor is completely uninterrupted by load-bearing structures, ensuring maximum flexibility.
5 Petronas Twin Towers
Linked by the famous skybridge, these twin skyscrapers redefined Kuala Lumpur's skyline when they were completed in 1996. Since then, they've become an instantly recognizable symbol of modern Malaysia's increasingly important role in global business. IBM, Microsoft and Al-Jazeera are just a few of the brands that have called the towers home.
6 Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa
Africa's first contemporary art museum—located on the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront in Cape Town, South Africa—has already raked in several awards. Conceived by Heatherwick Studio, the design takes advantage of innovative concrete-cutting techniques while maintaining the spirit of the historic grain silo once housed there.
7 Shanghai Tower
For all of Shanghai Tower's superlatives—China's tallest building, second-tallest building in the world—what truly sets apart the mixed-use building is its brilliant sustainable features. Look no further than the penthouse wind turbines or the structure's curved form that redirects wind forces.
8 Apple Park
Apple's circular, spaceship-like headquarters ranks as one of the most expensive buildings in the world—and among the most distinctive corporate headquarters. The estimated US$5 billion price tag isn't a shocker considering what went into the Foster + Partners-designed building, including custom windows crafted to be the world's largest curved sheets of glass. The building also is powered by 100 percent renewable energy.
9 The Shard
The tallest building in the European Union when it was inaugurated in 2012, The Shard was based on the spires of London, England's many churches. To achieve its sky-high ambitions, the team used pioneering engineering methods, including a top-down construction, in which foundations were dug while the core was built up, a first in the United Kingdom.
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10 Niterói Contemporary Art Museum
Designed by famed Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer, this museum's saucer-shaped design has been a structural icon for the city of Niterói, Brazil and for the country since it opened in 1996. It continues to draw millions of visitors, many who come to gawk at the eye-popping exterior.