World's Top New Landmarks
What do the Grand Canyon Skywalk, Dubai’s Burj Khalifa skyscraper, and Mexico City’s Museo Soumaya have in common? All opened in the last five years and surged to the top of T+L’s first landmarks survey—proving that some structures are instant classics.
T+L readers participated by ranking 60 landmarks, among them skyscrapers, sports venues, museums, and parks (see our complete methodology). The resulting list of top-ranked venues, all opened within the last 15 years, is your cheat sheet to the latest generation of groundbreaking architecture—the kinds of landmarks that inspire you to travel and see them in person.
Related: America's Most Beautiful Landmarks
Not surprisingly, many winners come from the art world. “Architecture is another layer of the museum experience,” notes Jim Childress, a member of the American Institute of Architects’ Committee on Design. It’s about building something that celebrates a local neighborhood or community, he says.
Case in point: Boston’s Institute of Contemporary Art (No. 14), which is revitalizing the waterfront area with its steel-and-glass design and modern art collection. Other examples include San Francisco’s copper-clad De Young Museum (No. 18), designed by Herzog and de Meuron, and the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth (No. 11), which will display Lucian Freud’s paintings in a highly anticipated Summer 2012 exhibition.
Acrophobes, hold on tight! Besides the 2,717-foot Burj and New York’s towering 8 Spruce Street, five other soaring structures appear on our list. Can you guess No. 13, which, at 1,132 feet, is the world’s highest bridge? (Hint: it’s even taller than the Eiffel Tower, yet located in the same country).
Any skeptics of the sky-high should reserve judgment. “A lot of tall buildings that we hold dear—such as the Empire State Building—were ridiculed when they were built,” says Bill Worthen, AIA’s director and resource architect for sustainability. “However, these buildings crept into our hearts, and now we try to even emulate them.”
So which landmark captured enough readers’ hearts to take the No. 1 ranking? New York’s September 11 Memorial, which has received more than 1.2 million visitors from over 120 different countries since opening in 2011. Read on for what makes the memorial site unique, and check out the rest of the world’s most awe-inspiring new sites.
No. 1 National September 11 Memorial, New York City
Opened in September 2011, the two illuminated reflecting pools—occupying the footprint of the Twin Towers—and 400 white oaks create a calming, respectful space to commemorate 9/11.
No. 2 8 Spruce Street, New York City
Frank Gehry designed the Western world’s tallest residential tower (it soars 870 feet), and gave it an undulating frame to catch and reflect the sun as it changes throughout the day.
No. 3 National Stadium, Beijing
The world’s largest steel structure—designed by Swiss architects Herzog and de Meuron and known affectionately as the Bird’s Nest—premiered at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
No. 4 Grand Canyon Skywalk, AZ
Twelve-and-a-half inches of reinforced glass is all that separates the brave souls who walk this four-year-old horseshoe plank from a 4,000-foot plunge into the Colorado River below.
No. 5 Walt Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles
Home to the Los Angeles Philharmonic since 2003, Frank Gehry’s impeccably executed performance space is said to have some of the world’s best acoustics.
No. 6 Burj Khalifa, Dubai
At 2,717 feet, the world’s tallest building has commanded the Dubai skyline since January 2010. It contains residences, offices, and the Armani Hotel.
No. 7 Turning Torso, Malmö, Sweden
Santiago Calatrava’s 2005 twisting steel structure—consisting of nine cubes that rotate 90 degrees as they rise from bottom to top—is the second highest residential building in Europe.
No. 8 Henderson Waves Pedestrian Bridge, Singapore
This undulating walkway of yellow bakau wood soars 118 feet above Singapore’s Henderson Road, connecting Mount Faber to Telok Blangah Hill.
No. 9 Museo Soumaya, Mexico City
Fernando Romero’s amorphous, aluminum-clad modern art museum, opened in 2011, rises like a glistening 64,583-square-foot sculpture out of Mexico City’s Polanco district.
No. 10 Millennium Park, Chicago
The standout features of Chicago’s 24.7-acre Millennium Park include Anish Kapoor’s jellybean-like Cloud Gate sculpture, Frank Gehry’s Jay Pritzker Pavilion, and various outdoor art exhibitions.
No. 11 Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, TX
Tadao Ando’s minimalist structure, opened in 2002, features five pavilions of 40-foot glass walls framed in simple steel and surrounding a 1.5-acre reflective pond.
No. 12 Sands SkyPark at Marina Bay, Singapore
This three-acre Moshe Safdie–designed garden “floats” 57 stories off the ground and has a pool, two restaurants, and 360-degree views over the city.
No. 13 Millau Viaduct, Millau, France
Spanning 1.6 miles and reaching a height of 1,132 feet, the viaduct was opened in 2004 along France’s Tarn River Gorge and is the world’s highest bridge—just taller than the Eiffel Tower.
No. 14 Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston
When it opened in 2006 overlooking Boston Harbor, this 65,000-square-foot gallery of transparent glass, translucent glass, and cool opaque steel by Diller Scofidio + Renfro was the city’s first new museum in 100 years.
No. 15 Modern Wing, Art Institute of Chicago
Renzo Piano’s limestone, glass, and steel 2009 addition to Chicago’s Beaux-Arts landmark was built to house the museum’s modern European artworks.
No. 16 National Aquatic Center, Beijing
At the 2008 Summer Olympics, 25 world records were broken at this seven-acre, $1.6 billion glowing plastic cube, whose walls and roof contain more than 3,000 oversize air bubbles.
No. 17 The High Line, New York City
Flower beds, day loungers, even a bar occupy this once-abandoned elevated rail bed—reconceived by Diller Scofidio + Renfro—that now threads through buildings from the Meatpacking District to West 30th Street.
No. 18 De Young Museum, San Francisco
Swiss architects Herzog and de Meuron sculpted 950,000 pounds of natural copper into a form that complements the landscape of Golden Gate Park. The fine arts museum opened in 2005.
No. 19 Wembley Stadium, London
After a massive $1.3 billion reconstruction, England’s national arena with its distinctive arch reopened in 2007 as the second largest sports structure in Europe.
No. 20 Ponte della Costituzione, Venice
Decidedly modern, Santiago Calatrava’s glass-and-marble footbridge over the Grand Canal ruffled the feathers of Venice’s hard-core traditionalists when it opened in 2008.