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Best of the bests: 5 of our favorite projects from 2020 best of architecture lists

It’s a fun time of the year, where some of the most popular architecture and design publications release their lists of top-ranking projects from the past year. Today, Sto Corp looks at some of its favorite projects from these year-end wrap ups – a best of the best-ofs, if you will.

Chongqing Nankai LiangJiang Secondary School

AchDaily’s Building of the Year 2020 list features this stunning educational facility located in the mountain city of Chongqing. Per the description provided by Gad Architecture, this middle school “integrates individualized educational thinking into the campus environment. It is like a spaceship that landed on the earth out of nowhere. The conflicting and inclusive traits are just rightly integrated, which makes you wonder whether there a possibility to subvert the known outside the traditional educational space.”

Gardenhouse residential building, Beverly Hills

This MAD-designed building features America’s “largest living wall,” as shown in Dezeen’s top 10 US architecture projects of 2020 list. As MAD founder Ma Yansong tells Dezeeen, “The commune connection between the urban environment and nature is isolated. What new perspectives, and new value, can we bring to Los Angeles? Perhaps, we can create a hill in the urban context, so people can live on it and make it a village. This place will be half urban, half nature. This can offer an interesting response to Beverly Hills: a neighborhood which is often carefully organised and maintained, now with a witty, playful new resident.”

The Crystal, Chongqing, China

Safdie Architects’ The Crystal, featured in New Atlas’ The best buildings of 2020 list, dubbed a “horizontal skyscraper,” sports a glass-bottomed observation point in this incredible feat of engineering. Per New Atlas, “During the construction process, it had to be painstakingly hoisted into position with cranes, with engineering expertise from Arup. An express elevator takes just over 50 seconds to reach the top and, once the doors open, visitors are greeted with a viewing point overlooking the landscape.”

Some projections from earlier in the year also caught our eye.

Six Senses hotel, New York

Architecture Digest’s The Best-Designed New Hotels of 2020 list states, “In one square block, two travertine and bronze-clad skyscrapers that are the tallest buildings in West Chelsea comprise The XI, (The Eleventh), designed by AD100 architect Bjarke Ingels right next to the High Line in Chelsea. Slated to open in late 2020 in this building is Six Senses’ first North American property. Also featuring 236 condominiums […] the hotel has natural tones of wood, ceramic, and stone with the occasional burst of color.

Austin Central Library

Fast Company’s list, titled These are the 10 best sustainable buildings of 2020 features this LEED Platinum building, designed via a joint partnership between Lake | Flato and Shepley Bulfinch. Per Fast Company, “…this public library has a 373,000-gallon rainwater harvesting system; some of the water is used in a garden designed to attract pollinators on the rooftop. A soaring six-story atrium fills the building with natural light, and reading porches and outdoor dining help connect visitors with nature.”


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