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World's Most Beautiful Buildings

ICMC at Brandenburg Technical University, Cottbus, Germany

While many architects prefer the smoothest, clearest glass, Swiss firm Herzog & de Meuron specializes in texture. This technologically sophisticated university library, in an obscure corner of Eastern Germany, is clad in frosted glass—and embossed with letters from the world’s alphabets. Shaped like an amoeba, with its central spiral staircase in bright magenta and green, the seven-story building looks like a carnival ride.

Relativity Theory: The free-form building looks especially impressive because it’s surrounded by long, dull, rectilinear buildings of the sort the East Germans were known for.

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