Mystique Oia, Santorini, Greece. Designed by Frank Lefebvre, Bleu Nature
Built into the cliffs overlooking the Aegean Sea on Santorini, Mystique's 18 villas and suites make the most of the superdramatic island setting. The hotel's design uses local materials and naturalistic forms to otherworldly effect: sloping, cavelike walls, large, egg-shaped tables and chairs, window views that look like a mirage—can water really be that blue?There are no right angles here, it seems, just sunbaked, earthy serenity. Mystique, doubles from $953.
Honorable Mention:Lemarti's Camp, Kenya; doubles from $1,340. Designed by Anna Trzebinski-Lemarti.
Amanda Burden Commissioner of City Planning of New York
City planning can sound a bit like an oxymoron especially in New York, a place where it's hard enough to make dinner plans, let alone shape neighborhoods, erect skyscrapers, or create new parks. But Amanda Burden, commissioner of City Planning of New York since 2002 and this year's T+L Design Champion, has managed all those things, and brilliantly. She is dedicated to ambitious, innovative architecture—“It makes the city young and compelling,” she says—but most of all she is a proponent of public spaces: parks, sidewalks, and promenades, the life of the street the soul of the city. Born to the rarefied world of New York society (her father was Stanley Mortimer, an heir to the Standard Oil fortune, and her mother was Babe Paley), Burden is now making her mark on the fabric of the entire city, from the redevelopment of Coney Island to the High Line (seen here last year), a unique elevated park set to open next fall.
Bold, witty, and sensational—just what you'd expect from a Philippe Starck–designed sushi restaurant in L.A. But Katsuya is also warm, fun, and inviting: oversize photographs of a geisha—her lips, eyes, kimono—loom over the simple armchairs and comfortable sofas. The vivid, winking elements of Japanese kitsch (sushi knives embedded in Lucite, rows and rows of sake bottles) serve to project the restaurant's iconography out the front door and onto the street, a remarkable achievement in this car-centric city. Katsuya Hollywood, dinner for two $150.
The Jury Says: “Katsuya Hollywood has Philippe Starck's wit and sense of playfulness, and puts it on a bigger scale.” —David Rockwell
Simply Vera Vera Wang Anorak Jacket for Kohl's. Designed by Vera Wang
A lightweight jacket that's as chic as it is practical. Made of nylon and polyester, it's easy to pack and wrinkle-resistant. And at $88, who says high fashion can't be highly accessible? Simply Vera Vera Wang Anorak Jacket, $88; kohls.com.
The Jury Says: “It's weightless— this anorak is very functional, and fun to wear.” —Yeohlee Teng
The National Stadium Beijing, China. Designed by Herzog & de Meuron
It isn't often that a building defines a city, and even becomes its icon, but that seems destined to be the case for Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron's National Stadium in Beijing, primary site of this summer's Olympic games. The stadium is a stunning attraction, a woven-basket form that seems to have grown organically on the edge of town like an enormous mushroom, or, as the locals have dubbed it, a bird's nest. Lit up in colors at night, the crosshatched latticework façade announces the city as a capital of the 21st century. The National Stadium; 8 N. Si Huan Zhong Rd., Chaoyang District, Beijing; beijing2008.cn.
The Jury Says: “Herzog & de Meuron's National Stadium in Beijing is a fantastic, harmonious, musical, symphonic work.” —Hani Rashid
Credit: Courtesy of Nordpark Cable Railway Stations
Nordpark Cable Railway Station Innsbruck, Austria. Designed by Zaha Hadid
Aggressively futuristic and sensual, the four Alpine railway stations along the line linking Innsbruck's city center to Hungerberg are eye-popping biomorphic forms in glass, floating over simple concrete platforms. At first glance the stations seem to evoke rocket-fueled, supersonic air travel. But as the yellow and blue train cars glide slowly through snowcapped mountains, it's clear: the streamlined shapes connote not speed but just the opposite—a glacial melting of ice, the slow freezing of water. Zaha Hadid has made architecture that speaks to the landscape. Nordpark Cable Railway Station, Congress Station, Innsbruck; 43-512/293-344; nordpark.com.
Olympic Sculpture Park Seattle. Designed by Weiss Manfredi Architecture/Landscape/Urbanism
Cutting into the landscape with X-Acto–blade precision, and then folding the planes like origami, Marion Weiss and Michael Manfredi have transformed a section of the Seattle waterfront into a park that displays sculpture including large works by Richard Serra and Alexander Calder. Previously an industrial site divided by train tracks and roadway, the ingenious Z-shaped park reconnects the city to the bay, and includes a low-slung pavilion for indoor exhibits. Olympic Sculpture Park, 2901 Western Ave.; 206/654-3100; seattleartmuseum.org.
The Jury Says: “Seattle's Olympic Sculpture Park provides a unique way of engaging and interacting with some of the world's best art.” —John Hoke
At the Nam Hai on China Beach, Vietnam, every guest room is a stand-alone pavilion facing the sea—a high-style take on the local, single-story, thatched-hut vernacular. The light open-air design, with numerous terraces, pools, and indoor-outdoor spaces, is grounded by a severe dark wood elegance, rich materiality meant to recall Vietnamese royal architecture. But it's the white sand and palm trees that are the center of attention here, an inviting landscape framed by graceful craftsmanship. The Nam Hai, doubles from $550.
The Jury Says: “The water is integrated as a simple floating plane at the Nam Hai, and there's not a lot of distinction between what's indoors and what's outdoors.” —David Rockwell
Taking the form of a somewhat haphazardly stacked pile of boxes, the seven-story New Museum on the Bowery in New York embodies the meticulously crafted yet easygoing minimalism of its architects, who also won this category last year. The Tokyo-based duo of Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa have made a building that is clean-lined, small-scale, and highly functional—housing three white-box exhibition spaces, all with skylights—just the opposite of the sometimes extravagantly theatrical museums going up these days. But this is not shy, retiring architecture—the museum overlooks the Lower East Side with a certain nonchalant authority, self-confident and hip. The New Museum of Contemporary Art235 Bowery, New York; 212/219-1222; newmuseum.org.
The Jury Says: “A very exciting building, and a bold place to have it.” —Agnes Gund
Honorable Mention:The Bloch Building at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art,Kansas City, Missouri. Designed by Steven Holl Architects; 4525 Oak St.; 816/751-1276; nelson-atkins.org.
Van Cleef & Arpels Paris, France. Designed by Patrick Jouin
This Paris jewelry shop is a fantasy of pure luxury and understated glamour, an extravaganza of pale creams and beiges, gently curving display cases and opulent silk-covered furniture, all set off by sparkling chandeliers and, of course, many, many diamonds. The design by Patrick Jouin for this classic Place Vendôme address—the atelier of Van Cleef & Arpels since 1906—is textured and decorative, with elaborate wall moldings and carved wood paneling, playful acknowledgments of the building's stately formality. Van Cleef & Arpels, 3–5 Rue de la Paix, Second Arr., Paris; 33-1/ 53-45-35-60; vancleef-arpels.com.
The Jury Says: “Patrick Jouin's color palette is subdued and of course that makes the jewelry really shine.” —Renée Price
Honorable Mention:Eko, 288 Queen St. W., Toronto; 416/593-0776. Designed by Bennett C. Lo
An emblem of the new China, the Ritz-Carlton Beijing, Financial Street mixes all the required elements of luxury hotel design with a sophisticated, neoclassical Chinese aesthetic. This is not East-meets-West pastiche, but rather a thoroughgoing and thoughtful synthesis. From the elegant lobby with its beautiful carved wooden screens, sculptures, and artwork to the richly appointed rooms, every detail is perfect—refined, low-key, and discreet. The Ritz-Carlton Beijing, Financial Street, doubles from $202.
In the heart of fashionable Milan—set in the iconic 19th-century Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II arcade, no less—Town House is a 24-suite property in which bold dashes of color, dramatic lighting, and modern furniture contrast entertainingly with the stone detailing and restored frescoes of a landmark building. Dazzlingly chic and very comfortable, a winning combination. Town House Galleria, doubles from $1180.
The Jury Says: “Town House Galleria is a 21st-century hotel steeped in history.” —Hani Rashid