Combining old-school glamour and unfussy modern design, André Balazs’s hotels achieve a rare alchemy: they are warm and welcoming and somehow nevertheless mysterious too—places with a bit of history and mythology about them. His properties are all carefully in tune with their particular locations, from the 1930’s bungalows at Chateau Marmont in Hollywood to the Art Deco lobby at the Raleigh in Miami Beach and the new Standard in New York, which rises dramatically above the High Line. It is this uncanny sense of place—expressed in architecture and design—that sets this year’s Design Champion apart, lending his hotels their cool and unpretentious sex appeal.
With its sloping white-marble roof and delicate glass façade, Oslo’s National Opera House is a grand architectural statement—planting a flag for high culture on the Oslo waterfront—but more essentially it also creates a dramatic new public space in the heart of the city. The stone terraces run from the shore to the building, where they’re integrated into the roof of much of the complex, a series of steep, angled planes for adventurous pedestrians and pre-theater crowds.
New York City. Designed by Anurag Nema of Nema Worshop, in collaboration with Mark Thomas Amadeii
Built into the lower floors of a SoHo tenement, Delicatessen embraces New York City’s early-20th-century brick-and-mortar solidity, while imposing its own glamorous atmospherics. High-gloss materials and seductive lighting amplify dramatic skylight views of an interior courtyard; the urban landscape is incorporated into the restaurant—and transformed. Dinner for two $70.
From the Jury:
“Delicatessen is young and alive; it has wonderful style in an unpretentious way.” —Calvin Klein
The self-confident wit—or is it the sheer brilliance?—of architects Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron is subtly yet unmistakably on display at CaixaForum Madrid, a building that seems to hover just above the street. This bit of architectural magic creates a natural entrance to the museum from the adjacent plaza and preserves the original façade of the 1901 electrical plant in the heart of Madrid. On top, a two- story addition in oxidized steel makes space for galleries and a café overlooking the Paseo del Prado.
New York City. Designed by Perkins Eastman; concept by Choi Ropiha
In the heart of Times Square, amid the thronging crowds, neon lights, urgent billboards, and animated video screens—the cacophony of capitalism—the TKTS Booth has become a remarkable pedestrian destination, a small island of relative calm. Glowing red steps form the roof of the discount Broadway ticket outlet, an elevated grandstand from which to watch the world go by.
From the Jury:
“The TKTS booth invents public space where there was none before.” —Michael Bierut
Tudela, Navarre, Spain. Designed by Emiliano López & Mónica Rivera Arquitectos
Single-story cubical structures set against an austere, windswept landscape in northeastern Spain: the Hotel Aire de Bardenas has the feel at first glance of a lunar encampment. But there is a familiar elegance here, a kind of recycled, modular minimalism that recalls the traditional buildings of this rural area, a semidesert environment next to a nature preserve. The serene, white-walled rooms are oriented to the outside—large windows offer spectacular views. Doubles from $175.
From the Jury:
“What is memorable about the Hotel Aire de Bardenas is the magical relationship between the building and its location.” —Edwina Von Gal
Another bridge from Santiago Calatrava?Yes, but this one is noteworthy both as a symbol and as a technological feat. The light-rail bridge curves dramatically toward the Eastern Gate of the old city of Jerusalem, supported by a single 387-foot pylon and a parabolic arrangement of cables. Lit up at night, the landmark structure brings the optimism of 21st-century engineering to this ancient land.
Zighy Bay Zighy Bay, Oman. Designed by Mr. Bernhard Bohnenberger and Mr. Mahfouz Shuhaiber of Six Senses Resorts and Spas
The pure exotic escapism of this Six Senses resort is amplified by its sensitive local design—the buildings are low stone structures with flat, woven roofs, and are arranged in the manner of an Omani village. Set beneath mountains overlooking a long beach on the Gulf of Oman, the spa has nine treatment rooms and two Arabian hammams, all done in rustic, eco-chic style; 79 villas, meanwhile, offer private pools and terraces: architecture at one with its surroundings. Doubles from $1,282.
From the Jury:
“We loved the simplicity of the design of the Six Senses and its connection with indigenous architecture.” —Lisa Phillips
Low-cost, high-style Mama Shelter is pure whimsy—tree-stump stools and foosball at the bar, chalk graffiti scrawled on the lobby ceiling, and Batman-mask lamps on the unfinished concrete-walled 79-euro-a-night guest rooms. Built in a former parking garage in a less-than-gentrified 20th Arrondissement neighborhood, the 172-room hotel has a patently silly, club-kid quality about it, and yet, as always, designer Philippe Starck’s noirish, otherworldly genius shines through. Doubles from $106.
From the Jury:
“Mama Shelter is democratic design: uniquely Parisian, about the neighborhood, affordable, and an original product.” —Adam D. Tihany
Reclaiming for architecture one of the key elements of the global industrial economy—the corrugated-steel shipping container—design firm Lot-Ek makes recycled buildings that speak to the contemporary moment. For Puma, the firm created a traveling flagship out of 24 refurbished 40-foot containers, a store that will move by boat during the coming year from continent to continent, selling sneakers and clothing. Puma City is more than a retail experience, it’s a thoughtful spin on utilitarian chic. In Boston April 25–May 16; puma.com.
An epic building—the largest in the world—Norman Foster’s Terminal 3 represents a fundamental advance in airport design, combining wide-open navigability and awe-inspiring scale, natural light and clear sight lines. The structure is 14 million square feet and will accommodate 50 million passengers a year, and yet it’s spectacularly light on its feet, with a sloping roof canopy and subtle, shifting colors on the trusses—a celebration of air travel.