The Coolest New Attractions of 2016
And some aren't all that new at all: Restoration efforts at the ruins of Pompeii, in Italy, have yielded at least six additional structures that are now open to the public, giving visitors a reason to revisit the millennia-old city destroyed by a volcanic eruption.
On the other end of the spectrum, however, are gleaming starchitect-helmed structural wonders that seem transported from the future, and are destined to join an elite class of architectural icons of the 21st century. Consider New York City’s otherworldly World Trade Center Transportation hub—a sculptural, bone-white train station courtesy Santiago Calatrava—or the the bulbous sphere jutting out of OMA’s Taipei Performing Arts Center. Not to mention the David Adjaye–designed National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C.
It’s poised to be a banner year for amusement park junkies, too. West Coast Harry Potter fans no longer have to ride their brooms all the way to Orlando for a tour of Hogwarts, as the Wizarding World of Harry Potter joins the roster at Universal Studios Hollywood this spring. The long flight to China will be worth it to experience the one-of-a-kind rides at Shanghai Disneyland, opening this summer. And in keeping with Dubai’s tendency to go big or go bigger, the city is debuting a host of new theme parks this year—one of which is home to the first-ever Hunger Games attraction.
This year, you’ll come to expect unlikely pairings: a new Louvre is coming to Abu Dhabi, a glossy food hall is moving into a historic church in Belgium, and Greece is getting ready to unveil a grand new opera house and national library. From culture vultures to football fanatics to aspiring wizards, there’s a dream destination for everyone this year.
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood, California
Hear ye, muggles and wizards: Hogwarts is coming to Hollywood. After the roaring success of the Harry Potter theme park at Universal Studios in Orlando (which may host an actual, real-life Yule Ball this December), the attraction is making its way west. The village of Hogsmeade, Hogwarts castle, Gringotts Bank—after the attraction’s April opening you’ll be able to explore them all with a frothy mug of butterbeer in hand.
Museum of Image and Sound in Rio de Janeiro
The long-awaited new site of Rio’s Museum of Image and Sound is due to open on lively Copacabana Beach this year, just in time for the Olympics. The 10,000-square-foot, Diller Scofidio + Renfro structure of concrete and steel was inspired by the iconic black-and-white, wavy mosaics that line Copacabana’s promenade, and will be an avant-garde home for galleries, a theater, a restaurant, and even a nightclub.
Louvre Abu Dhabi
Paris’s most iconic museum is gearing up to debut an outpost in the United Arab Emirates. The new $650 million Louvre, designed by architect Jean Nouvel, will reside in Abu Dhabi’s Cultural District, which might just be the next big international art destination when the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi and Zayed National Museum join the neighborhood.
Darling Harbour Live in Sydney
Sydney’s underutilized Darling Harbour precinct is getting a glossy new face-lift. Come December, the more than $2.5 billion, 50-acre project will boast a new convention center, a 35-story luxury hotel, retail space, restaurants, public parks and squares and much more.
World Trade Center Transportation Hub
The long-delayed, $3.9 billion depot, designed by Santiago Calatrava, opened this March—commuters have been using parts of it for a few months now, but the main event, Calatrava’s striking, winged Oculus structure, is finally ready for use. The hub looks like it will transport you straight to another galaxy, and it just might. No one ever claimed Jersey was on this planet, after all.
That famous mouse continues his global domination, this time with the opening of Shanghai Disneyland in June. And in continuing with the Chinese tradition of doing everything on a massive scale, expect big things from this theme park, too. You’ll have to fly to Shanghai if you want to check out the state-of-the-art, TRON Lightcycle Power Run thrill ride, since you won’t find it stateside. Consider staying at the 800-room Toy Story Hotel (also opening in June) and dining at the Ratatouille-themed Parisian bakery.
Palestinian Museum in Birzeit, West Bank
When it opens in May in the hills of Birzeit, north of Jerusalem, the $30 million Palestinian Museum will be the first venue of its kind: a cultural center dedicated to sharing the history and diverse narratives of the Palestinian diaspora across the globe. The Dublin-based design firm, Heneghan Peng, conceived the ultra-contemporary structure—a series of interlocking triangles—and are also the team behind the Grand Egyptian Museum in Giza.
FIFA World Football Museum in Zurich
Soccer/football fanatics, rejoice! FIFA has thus far not lett its endless parade of controversies get in the way of delivering the world’s most definitive ode to the sport this February. Expect more than 1,000 exhibits from across the globe, along with what might be your only chance to see an actual FIFA World Cup trophy up close.
The Broad in Los Angeles
This one’s been around for a few months now, but it more than merits a mention: the Broad Museum, a $140 million undertaking constructed for the 2,000-piece collection of billionaires Eli and Edythe Broad, was unveiled in September in downtown Los Angeles. And if you didn’t make it there in 2015, you have to add it to the top of your 2016 to-do list. The dramatic Diller Scofidio + Renfro structure showcases the Broads’ postwar and contemporary art collection, and admission is free for everyone. If the opening exhibit, featuring works by Jean-Michel Basquiat, Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, and Jasper Johns, is any indication, California’s art connoisseurs are in for a treat.
National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC
The Smithsonian’s latest museum, located next to the Washington Monument, showcases personal artifacts from the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries to build an impressive collection showcasing African American history. See them all in a building designed by Tanzanian-born British architect, David Adjaye. Even his façade is symbolic: the bronze mesh that shrouds the exterior is a tribute to the talented casters that emerged from the first generation of freed slaves.
King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia
Getting a visa to visit Saudi Arabia might not be the easiest thing in the world, but if you do make it there, a stop at the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture in the eastern city of Dhahran will soon become a requisite on any Kingdom itinerary. The nebulous, otherworldly façade (made by individually bent and wrapped steel tubes), designed by Norwegian firm Snøhetta, will house a museum, auditorium, cinema, library, and an innovation center known as the Keystone project.
Boverie in Liège, Belgium
The Belgian city of Liège is having a bit of a moment—it’s one of our Best Places to Travel in 2016—thanks to great strides in architecture, design, and cuisine. With the May opening of the Boverie, you can add art to the mix. This striking museum, which counts the Louvre as artistic advisor, will showcase works by the likes of Monet, Cézanne, and Van Gogh.
Taipei Performing Arts Center
Taipei is gearing up for a busy year as the World Design Capital 2016, and the centerpiece of the 12-month reign is poised to be the much-lauded opening of the Rem Koolhaus and David Gianotten-designed Taipei Performing Arts Center. The standout feature of the three-theater complex is a giant sphere embedded into the exterior of the structure.
Marrakech Museum for Photography and Visual Art
The Marrakech Museum for Photography and Visual Art (MMVA) opened without a home in 2013, occupying the city’s historical El Badii Palace. But that was just a temporary abode. Starchitect David Chipperfield has been busy at work on a stunning permanent home for the collection, set to open this year. It’s said to be the largest photography museum anywhere in the world.
With a glut of new theme parks—including one dedicated to Bollywood—Dubai seems to be determined to become the fun capital of the world. But we’re particularly intrigued by “Hollywood in the Desert,” also known as the Motiongate Dubai at Dubai Parks & Resorts. It’s dedicated to bringing your favorite blockbusters to life, and highlights include Smurfs Village, Ghostbusters and the Green Lantern at Sony Pictures Studios, and Kung Fu Panda and Madagascar at Dreamworks. Admittedly, we’re most excited about the Lionsgate section, which will boast the only Hunger Games attraction anywhere in the world.
The Tate Modern Extension in London
Greek National Opera House in Athens
The new home of the Greek National Opera House is nothing short of a triumph. The dramatic new Renzo Piano structure in Athens’ Kallithea district, topped by what’s described as a “flying carpet,” is a gift of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (as is the adjacent National Library of Greece). The whole complex promises to be one of the most technologically advanced on the continent.
Holy Food Market in Ghent, Belgium
Later this year, Ghent will see the opening of a particularly blessed food hall. Set in a 16th-century chapel, this gastronomic wonderland will boast a warren of culinary options beneath the soaring vaulted ceilings. But don’t let the Old World setting mislead you: the interiors promise to be super minimalist.
Aïshti Foundation in Beirut
The late-October opening of Beirut’s new contemporary art museum was an important culture move in a city that’s too often struck by turmoil. The project, spearheaded by Lebanese fashion mogul and art collector Tony Salamé, boasts an intricate geometrical façade courtesy British architect David Adjaye; inside, you’ll find exhibits featuring works by Willem de Rooj, Wade Guyton, and Richard Prince, and Lebanese artists Akram Zaatari, Rayyane Tabet, and Ziad Antar. More about this opening, this way.
This “new” attraction is by far the oldest on this list. The ancient city of Pompeii was decimated by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 A.D., and post-excavation it’s gone on to become a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of Italy’s top tourist attractions. In December, six new restored villas were unveiled to the public, giving unprecedented insight into what pre-eruption life might have looked like, complete with colorful mosaics and frescoes. Among the new additions: a wealthy merchant’s manse, a laundry house, and a fabric store. Another reason to visit (or revisit) Pompeii in 2016? Elton John is rumored to be performing there this summer. Talk about a venue!
Dubai Opera House
The soaring new Dubai Opera House evokes a dhow, the traditional sailing vessel, and houses a 2,000-seat theater that will host opera, ballet, and theatrical performances. The Opera House will be the anchor of the new Dubai Opera District in Downtown Dubai, the city’s cultural hub complete with hotels, apartments, shopping, and more. This is just one part of a major design boom diffusing across the metropolis.
SFMOMA, in San Francisco
One of California’s most beloved contemporary art museums (and its most lengthy acronyms) is hard at work at a sprawling new addition that promises to double its existing size. When the museum reopens in May after a nearly three-year closure, the new Snøhetta-designed extension will add 235,000 square feet.
Fondazione Feltrinelli in Milan
Clearly, famed architecture firm Herzog & De Meuron is having yet another busy year. In Milan, the firm is working on a new building for the Giangiacomo Feltrinelli Foundation, which was founded in 1949 as an intellectual center for documenting and researching contemporary society. The foundation’s crown jewel is its vast library—1.5 million archival documents, 20,000 photographs, 200,000 monographs, and much more—and it’s poised to get a modern new home atop an ancient foundation. Cafés, restaurants, and shops on the ground level will be open to the public.
Quicksilver Gondola in Park City
This December, Park City became the country’s largest skiable area by linking Park City and Canyons resorts. In all it spans an impressive 7,300 acres. The $50 million Quicksilver Gondola came just in time for ski season, giving skiers access to 300 trails and 41 lifts. Now it’s easier than ever to have a perfect day in this ski empire.
Met Breuer in New York City
How could the grande dame of New York City museums possibly get better? The Met knew it was time for a bit of a facelift for its contemporary art displays, and this March will begin showcasing it in the iconic Marcel Breuer building nearby on Madison Avenue and 75th Street. Head to the commanding Bauhaus structure to explore the museum’s collection of 20th- and 21st-century art.