The Amazing Architecture That Captivated Us in 2016


This year was an incredible year in architecture. We saw new buildings breathe life into cities, old structures given a modern twist, projects with political and humanitarian statements, and more. Take a look back at some of our favorite architectural moments of 2016.


Faena Forum Opening in Miami

Miami it-couple Ximena Caminos and Alan Faena unveiled the new multidisciplinary center for art and culture just in time for this year’s Art Basel. Designed by Rem Koolhaas’s OMA, the cultural hub is located in the center of the six-block Faena District Miami Beach. Its launch was celebrated with an inaugural event featuring a dance performance by Pam Tanowitz in collaboration with architect Sho Shigematsu from OMA.  


Credit: Stefan Ruiz, Vogue, December 2016


Yayoi Kusama Gave the Glass House a Polka Dot Makeover

To mark 10 years since Philip Johnson’s Glass House has been open to the public, Yayoi Kusama gave the iconic architectural wonder a polka dot facelift as part of her “Dots Obsession” installation series. The installation also took over a recently reconstructed pond on the property, filling it with 1,300 of Kusama’s floating, stainless steel orbs, plus a giant, reflective pumpkin near the entrance.




NYC’s Oculus Opens to the Public

Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava’s $4 billion undertaking at the site of the World Trade Center opened to the public this year. Known as the Oculus, its design plans were first revealed in 2004 when it was estimated to take 5 years to complete. It’s safe to say this was one of the most highly anticipated (and most expensive) transportation hubs ever. “The combination of natural light and sculptural form give dignity and beauty to the building’s lower levels and pedestrian walkways, and provide New York City with a kind of public space it has not previously enjoyed,” says Calatrava on his website.




Game of Thrones Season 6 

When Season 6 of Game of Thrones premiered in the spring, the series’ set design and architecture did not disappoint. Of particular note architecturally is Meereen, one of the three city-states of Slaver’s Bay, where Daenerys Targaryen rises to power. Production designer/art director Deborah Riley, head of the set design team, says that the inspiration behind Daenerys’ Meereen palace came from Frank Lloyd Wright’s Mayan Revival period.


Credit: Helen Sloan/HBO


Ai Weiwei x Konzerthaus Berlin

In his politically-charged addition to Konzerthaus Berlin in February, Ai Weiwei temporarily draped the famous neoclassical hall’s six entrance columns in 14,000 orange life vests – an effort to draw attention to the ongoing refugee crisis. The installation came about after the Chinese artist had spent time working from the Greek island Lesvos, where he experienced the harsh realities of the humanitarian crisis firsthand.


Credit: Oliver Lang /Konzerthaus Berlin


National Museum of African American History & Culture 

The 37,160 square meter structure, which opened in September, is designed by British architect David Adjaye in collaboration with New York-based firm Davis Brody Bond and the Freelon Group. Its focus comes through in the architecture as well as the museum’s content, working to educate and document African American life, history and culture. The corona that tops the structure is inspired by three-tiered crowns commonly displayed in West African art. The welcoming porch at the main entrance is reminiscent of the American South and the African Diaspora. And the bronze-colored metal that wraps the exterior of the building is a tribute to the ironwork created by enslaved African Americans across the US.


Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of African American History and Culture Architectural Photrography