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PHOTO CREDITS: Farnborough Airport Terminal Building: Photo by Hufton & Crow; london City Hall : Michael Betts/gettyimages; S-Trenue Tower: © Yong-Kwan Kim

Photo: Spiral staircase inside London City Hall


When architects and engineers think outside the rectangular box, the results are striking. Add gleaming surfaces of glass, steel, and aluminum, and see the line between structure and sculpture disappear.

Photo: BMW Welt

A World of Its Own

Trust BMW to boost the tourist appeal of Munich. Five million visitors have toured the company’s spectacular steel-and-glass exhibition space, BMW Welt, since its 2007 unveiling at the automaker’s headquarters, the company claims. For a hefty fee, new owners can take delivery of their cars at the Welt, while others can join factory and museum tours and sample company-sponsored restaurants.

Photo: Denver Art Museum

Sharp Relief

All angles, reflection, and light, this 146,000-square-foot titanium-and-steel expansion of the Denver Art Museum aims to reflect Colorado’s distinctive landscape of mountainous peaks and crystal rock foothills.

Photo: Walt Disney Concert Hall

Radiant Steel

Though it won accolades for its design innovations, Frank Gehry’s sweeping 2003 Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles soon gained poor reviews from the neighbors. Their complaint? Blinding glare and heat generating from the 2,000-square-foot stainless steel shell. Light sanding of the northwest exterior helped dull the mirror-polish finish – and tacked on an extra $180,000 to the $274 million project

Photo: London City Hall


A symmetrical pine cone shape when viewed from across the Thames, the London City Hall protrudes away from the river when viewed from either side. Giant windows and skylights flood the spiral staircase and adjacent interior rooms with natural light.

Photo: S-Trenue Tower Angles and Bridges

Seoul’s 36-floor S-Trenue Tower helps relieve the monotonous, oppressive feel of the cityscape, according to the architectural firm Mass Studies. It’s actually three towers in one: a reinforced-concrete central core flanked by two slimmer steel towers, all connected by 32 bridges with gardens. The modified X shape allows space between towers in the upper and lower floors, providing more rooms with exposure to the outside.

Photo: Farnborough Airport Terminal Building

Shimmering Arch

Sheathed in aluminum, like the wings of a plane, the U.K. Farnborough Airport Terminal Building was designed by REID (now 3DREID) architects to reflect the technology and beauty of aircraft. Farnborough has roots in aviation history, so the firm sought to offer grandstand views of runway traffic while circulating people easily through passenger facilities, offices, and operational areas.




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