Architecture in the Spotlight

By Anastasia Mills Healy

As all eyes are upon London for the Summer Olympic Games, our thoughts turn to the architectural legacy the Games will leave behind and the noteworthy structures in other cities, that fans may want to visit.

Aquatics CenterThe most lauded structures built for the 2012 London Olympic Games are Zaha Hadid’s Aquatics Centre and the Velodrome, designed by Hopkins Architects.

Pritzker Prize winner Hadid created an Aquatics Centre whose most stunning feature is an undulating roof that emulates a wave. Columnless, this inspiring building will be much more true to its inceptive vision of openness and clear sightlines when the two wings of temporary seating that increase capacity from 2,500 to 17,500 are removed and replaced by glass walls.

Riverside Museum, GlasgowOf 950 projects in 44 countries, other recent Hadid buildings of note include the Riverside Museum in Glasgow, Scotland, a fluid design for a museum of transportation that opened in June 2011 and welcomed its one millionth visitor six months later; and in China, the Guangzhou Opera House, whose twin boulder-like buildings overlooking the Pearl River opened in 2010.

VelodromeLondon’s venue for all things cycling, the Velodrome ranks alongside the Aquatics Centre in the category of breathless architecture and has received equal high marks from the public. The architectural firm succeeded in modeling the design of the building to reflect its use: “We wanted to express the geometry and drama of the track in the outside form of the building,” Mike Taylor, senior partner, Hopkins Architects, told the Financial Times. Some critics compare this elegant structure to a cedar-covered Pringle potato chip (in the best possible way) and others liken its design to that of a bicycle – streamlined and nimble.

Dubai and Cyprus are two locales with current Hopkins projects. The Dubai World Trade Centre is a vast mixed-use urban area with offices, apartments, hotels and, of course, stores. There will be tree-lined streets, rooftop gardens and, the focal point, two tall towers. Shifting focus to the Mediterranean, the Cyprus Cultural Centre will be a wonderful place for arts lovers to gather to enjoy music, dance, opera and theater in state-of-the-art performance venues. Being built in tandem with Civic Square, the Cultural Centre will be linked to the proposed House of Representatives, the National Gallery and a park beyond by an outdoor performance space.

Guangzhou Opera HouseGreat architecture becomes truly transcendent when buildings create beautiful and useful spaces for a community’s (or a world’s) important moments, and become so integrated into the fabric of their surroundings that it is impossible to imagine the locations without them.

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