The 12 Most Anticipated Buildings of 2018

At its core, architecture is an exceptionally slow art form. After a commission is earned, the planning, building, and completion of a structure can take, at times, upwards of a decade. Through the late 19th and early 20th centuries, this length of time for design and construction wasn’t an issue, as predicating the near-term needs of a city was a relatively achievable goal. Yet, as technology advanced and cities such as New York and London boomed into metropolises, planning to meet the exact needs for an urban space became exceedingly difficult.

Consider the task of an architect who, in 1998, won a commission for a building in Beijing that took ten years to complete. In that time period, China’s capital would undergo one of the biggest social and cultural shifts in the country’s long history. What’s more, the advancements in computer technology during that ten-year stretch were profound. How does an architect predict this type of transformation in an initial scheme? It’s almost impossible. As a result, the role of an architect has changed. No longer are they merely designing a building but are doing so in a manner that’s similar to a sociologist. By spotting (and at times predicting) the patterns of social interactions and cultural norms, today’s influential architects can create an identity for a city that’s become a cacophony of objects.

Looking to the year ahead of us, we wonder: Which buildings will capture the essence of their location, even as they were initially conceived at a time when the demands of the space were different? Below, AD PRO surveys 12 buildings around the world that will not just be completed in 2018 but done so with a design that we believe will produce an identity to match the needs of its environment. When this bold, and at times radical, type of design comes together, the result is stunningly beautiful. Indeed, as the great 19th-century critic Walter Pater once said (and the inimitable architecture critic Herbert Muschamp later echoed), architecture is fundamentally about “the power of being deeply moved by the presence of beautiful objects.” We believe these 12 buildings will possess that power.

Rendering: Courtesy of Bjarke Ingels Group

ARC Power Plant, by Bjarke Ingels Group (Copenhagen, Denmark)

For the past few years, Danish starchitect Bjarke Ingels has been redefining skylines across the globe. But for his latest project, the 43-year-old visionary stayed closer to home. Located in Copenhagen, the ARC Power Plant is the apogee of creative brilliance. Fundamentally, the state-of-the-art facility is proof that eco-friendly architecture can be done with high design. Clad in aluminum, the structure is expected to burn 400,000 tons of waste annually into enough clean energy to power 60,000 homes in the area—all of which is a major step in Copenhagen’s plan to become the world’s first zero-carbon city by 2025. But it’s not just about converting waste to energy—it’s about having fun too. Atop the structure’s roof is a nearly 1,500-foot-long ski slope (one of the world’s longest artificial ski slopes), a pipe dream of Ingels’s own that he worked into possibility. The slope, which is accessible through an elevator inside the building, has paths designated for beginners, intermediates, and experts. While Denmark receives a healthy amount of snow, the country is rather flat and not an ideal terrain for ski lovers. BIG’s ARC Power Plant is changing all of that in a very carbon-neutral way.

Rendering: Courtesy of Snøhetta & MIR

Calgary Library, by Snøhetta (Calgary, Canada)

Fundamentally, Calgary’s new library is about connecting residents to public spaces. Located at the intersection between Downtown Calgary and the East Village, the Snøhetta-designed structure lifts to become a gateway from one exciting neighborhood to the next. The building also hovers over the existing Light Rail Transit Line, which cuts through the heart of the city. The geometrically designed exterior will draw residents into the activities occurring inside the library, while those upper levels (which aren’t as open to the public to see from outside) allow for a more quiet, traditional library experience.

Photo: Iwan Baan

Institute for Contemporary Art, by Steven Holl (Richmond, Virginia)

Virginia Commonwealth University’s new Institute for Contemporary Art (ICA) is much more than what its name suggests. The genius of Steven Holl’s design is that, while the architecture is masterfully uniform, the usage of its interior is anything but that. The ICA will be used as a cafe bar, a gallery space, a 240-seat auditorium for film screenings, performances, and lectures, as well as a fabrication workshop. Not only do Holl’s irregularly shaped blocks have a whimsical feel, but they are incredibly eco-friendly as well. Four green roofs are planted with native vegetation, which are intended to absorb stormwater and increase insulation. Window and skylights have been strategically placed to ensure the interior receive plenty of natural light, reducing the need for artificial illumination. The project will be opened to the public in April 2018, roughly six years after it was first unveiled.

Rendering: Courtesy of MASS Design Group

The National Memorial for Peace and Justice, by MASS Design Group (Montgomery, Alabama)

After a year in which Confederate monuments became such a topic of debate in America, the opening of the first-ever national memorial to the victims of lynching couldn’t be more important. Created by the Equal Justice Initiative and designed by the Boston-based firm MASS Design Group, The National Memorial for Peace and Justice will be an educational, if not harrowing, experience for every visitor. At the beginning of the memorial, patrons will walk alongside dark red columns (which include both the names of victims and the counties where these unthinkable events took place). Slowly, the ground slants downward, while the columns remain at the same level, eventually hanging above the visitors in a manner that evokes the lynchings that occurred around the country. From there, the museum opens up to a central space where visitors stand and look back upon all the hanging columns. Yet, this is not a static retrospective. Outside of the space there are the same dark red columns that are vertically placed around the museum. Over the next few years, the columns will be sent to counties around the country where lynchings took place.

Rendering: Courtesy of Johnston Marklee/Nephew

The Menil Drawing Center, by Johnston Marklee (Houston, Texas)

Established in 2008, the Drawing Institute has put together major exhibitions on such high-profile artists as Jasper Johns and Lee Bontecou. Starting in 2018, the institute will open their first-ever permanent space dedicated to the exhibition, conservation, and study of modern and contemporary drawings. The Menil Drawing Center, which was designed by the Los Angeles–based firm Johnston Marklee, evokes a warm feeling that can only be established by a structure that appears to be part home, part museum. Inside, the firm struck a delicate balance of providing ample natural light in the space, while ensuring overexposure would not harm any of the papers on exhibit. The building will be situated amid an extensive masterplan designed by Sir David Chipperfield. Other notable structures on the 30-acre plot of land include Renzo Piano’s main museum building and Piano’s Cy Twombly Gallery, among others. In other words, The Menil Drawing Center will be in good company.

Rendering: Courtesy of Selldorf Architects

The Mwabwindo School, by Selldorf Architects (Mwabwindo Village, Zambia)

14+ Foundation—a U.S.-based charitable organization that builds schools and orphanages for children in rural African communities—tapped the renowned firm Selldorf Architects to design the Mwabwindo School, an educational facility in the plateaus of Zambia. The design of the school was meant to mimic the shade provided by trees from the oppressive sub-Saharan sun. The structure was built using mud-brick that were handmade on site by local masons. The complex (which includes the school and a section for teachers’ housing) will be powered by solar panels, while rain water will be collected for use in the adjacent gardens, making Mwabwindo School not merely an exceptional place for children to learn but an eco-friendly one to boot.

Rendering: Courtesy of Stefano Boeri Architetti

Nanjing Green Towers, by Stefano Boeri Architetti (Nanjing, China)

Anyone who is well-versed in modern Milanese architecture will instantly recognize the verdant work of Italian-born architect Stefano Boeri. His Vertical Forest in Milan is a stunning example of green architecture, boasting 1,100 trees from 23 different local species and 2,500 cascading plants to create a spectacular splash of color and CO2-fighting ability in the Italian city. In 2018, the 61-year-old architect is bringing his talents to China. The Nanjing Green Towers will be Asia’s first-ever vertical forest—an important milestone for a region suffering from some of the worst carbon dioxide emissions on the planet. Boeri’s 656-foot tall skyscraper will house office space, a museum, an architecture school (that emphasizes eco-friendly design), a rooftop club, and a hotel.

Rendering: Courtesy of The Ateliers Jean Nouvel

National Museum of Qatar, by Jean Nouvel (Doha, Qatar)

Never one to create a banal building, Jean Nouvel, fresh off opening the Louvre Abu Dhabi, has concocted a design for the National Museum of Qatar that looks like something from another planet. Inspired by the desert rose, the building consists of interlocking discs that are almost the same beige color as the surrounding desert. The space will house artifacts related to themes that define the country, if not the region: oil and gas, trade, and the Persian Gulf.

Rendering: Courtesy of Kengo Kuma and Associates

V&A Museum of Design Dundee, by Kengo Kuma (Dundee, Scotland)

It’s fitting that Scotland’s first-ever museum dedicated to design is being created by one of the most talented designers in the world, Kengo Kuma. The Japanese architect is no stranger to abstract building, a penchant that will be evident in Dundee, when his imposing building is completed. The design, which was inspired by the spectacular cliffs that surround the country, is sharply angular, at one section even protruding a nearby river. Whether visitors are fans of design exhibitions or not shouldn’t be a concern, as simply walking into the space will mean entering a museum that’s designed like no other before it.

Image: Courtesy of OMA

Taipei Performing Arts Center, by OMA (Taipei, Taiwan)

There are buildings that demand your attention, and then there is OMA’s soon-to-be-completed Taipei Performing Arts Center. The structure stands out to any building in the world, but what makes this so fascinating is that the architects were able to create this distinction by combining two of the most basic shapes: a sphere and a square. Not only will visitors experience a sense of awe, or at very least curiosity when walking past the new Taipei Performing Arts Center, but inside there is much to experience through several multifunctional theaters, including a 1,500-seat grand theater. It will be an exciting day when the arts center opens, as it’s been nearly a decade in the making.

Rendering: Courtesy of Thomas Phifer and Partners

Glenstone Expansion, by Thomas Phifer and Partners (Potomac, Maryland)

When Glenstone first opened in 2006, visitors were able to experience art, architecture, and nature in a way most museums could never offer. By incorporating paintings, sculptors, rolling landscape, and stunning paintings within 200 acres of land, the museum affords viewers an incredibly intimate sensory experience. In 2018, the newest addition to the Glenstone will be completed when the Pavilions opens to the public. When the 170,000-square-foot expansion is finished, and the visitor capacity increases from 25,000 to 100,000 annually, Glenstone will surpass New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art and the Broad in Los Angeles to become one of world’s largest private museums. The expansion consists of a series of discrete masonry forms that house a single artists work. Each structure will have a window facing a central courtyard, while one room will exclusively face outwards toward the landscape, gently tugging the museumgoers’ attention to reveal the splendors of Potomac’s landscape.

Rendering: Courtesy of Allied Works Architecture

National Veterans Memorial and Museum, by Allied Works Architecture (Columbus, Ohio)

While the design of some museums scream for attention, the National Veterans Memorial and Museum is beautifully understated, honoring the country’s veterans in an appropriately somber manner. Indeed, much like the people it’s honoring, the structure has a dignified form that appears to be organically grown from the ground. Designed by the U.S.-based firm Allied Works Architecture, the building will house artifacts, multimedia exhibits, and installations to remind visitors of all that the nation’s veterans have sacrificed.

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