The Architecture community has seen multiple groundbreaking projects in the last year where our favorite Starchitecture/Architecture firms have been busy innovating, designing and working on public commissions. From Zaha Hadid Architects to Bjarke Ingels group, these firms are already known to build iconic structures in metropolitans around the world.

The year of 2019 saw material and technological innovation like the operable roof of Al Janoub Stadium in Qatar designed by Zaha Hadid Architects, context and site-centric designs; like in Jean Nouvel’s National Museum of Qatar evoking the desert landscape around it, and important milestones in sustainable architecture; like the zero waste-producing 565 Broome Soho with its reportedly effective waste disposal system by Renzo Piano.

Here is our countdown of the most iconic projects designed by ‘starchitects’ in 2019:

20. Hashiang Museum, China

Shanghai, China.

Alvaro Siza along with Carlos Castanheira has announced a proposal this year for the new Starchitecture project of Hashiang Museum in Shanghai, which includes a building for the museum and three other smaller structures; a pavilion, a tea house, and a bridge. The site is naturally enclosed by a canal that encircles the center of Hashiang in the north, a river to the east and two busy roads to the west and south.

The plan has the site divided into four lots by crossing two secondary roads; in the southern portion is the largest of the structures, the museum, which opened on the ground floor with an entrance hall, a space for temporary exhibitions and an auditorium. A ramp offers access to the upper level where a series of multi-functional spaces are located, as well as galleries that will house the museum collection.

The pavilion and tea house will be built in the north, including a restaurant, an auditorium, exhibition galleries, and corporate spaces.

The design was based around a brief that clearly prioritizes access and fluidity.

19. Maggies Centre, London

Hampstead, North London.

Adding a refreshing timber facade structure to a forgotten corner of Maggies Cancer Care Centre’s car park, Daniel Libeskind aims at enhancing a human character, that timber as a renewable material brings. This project is meant to replace an existing Cancerkin center, following the merging of the 2 support units in 2016. Prefabricated wooden louvers form the facade, angled to provide sun shading and create the center’s curving shape, which is designed to be a welcoming place. From the inside, the louvers frame views through windows (97 windows in total) ensuring the 26 rooms are filled with natural light.

The project includes well-landscaped areas around the building with pathways connecting it to the hospital, and a roof garden.

18. Philadelphia Museum Of Art, USA

Philadelphia, USA

Frank Gehry designed and planned the major renovations to transform the layout of the famous Philadelphia museum of art, making it more open and easier for users to navigate.

The reconfiguration adds 11,500 square feet (1,068 square meters) of exhibition space and 67,000 square feet (6,225 square meters) of public areas within the existing structure.

Major alterations to the layout include the removal of the central auditorium, which opens up views right through the building, among others. The space in its place is known as the Forum and includes a grand staircase that will connect vaulted walkways below to the floors above. The museum is being renovated in stages and is bound to be completed by 2020.

17. Galeries Lafayette, Luxembourg


This 7 storey retail store designed by Foster + Partners in Luxembourg is one of the Starchitecture project which has a faceted glass and steel facade made up of a composition of transparent and bronze-colored panels. The shape of the exterior and its materials animate the structure, making it shine like a jewel when natural light reflects off it.

The project boasts impressive sustainable credentials, with an aim to achieve a BREEAM – Excellent rating. It includes a ‘thermal labyrinth’ – an innovative passive ventilation system that pulls air from outside through a maze-like concrete chamber under the basement slab, using the high thermal mass of concrete to condition the air, which is then supplied throughout the buildings. The central atrium has a skylight that allows natural light into the building.

16. Ngaren, Kenya

Rift Valley, Kenya


World-renowned Paleoanthropologist Dr. Richard Leakey found the most complete skeleton of early humans (the Turkana boy) on a cliff overlooking the rift valley and decided to have an unprecedented science museum dedicated to the story of humankind made here.

The design, by Daniel Libeskind, is inspired by the forms of ancient hand axes that were the first tools of early man-marking the beginnings of human ingenuity. His objective was to create interactive exhibition spaces for an educational and scientific experience. A domed structure will complete the museum along with a sloped pathway carved into the hill, forming the entrance.

15. Axel Springer Media Campus, Germany

Berlin, Germany.

Rem Koolhaas, Ellen Van Loon and Chris Van Duijn designed this campus in Berlin, to symbolize the transition of Alex Springer’s move from print to digital media. The building provides the public with a ground floor lobby for exhibitions, events and studios, a viewing bridge that acts as a meeting point providing visuals of the entire space, and a rooftop bar.

Bisected by a diagonal atrium that opens up to the existing Springer buildings, the essence of the design is a series of terraced floors that together form a ‘valley’ that creates an informal stage at the center – a place to broadcast ideas to other parts of the company.

According to OMA, ‘the design was developed around a series of terraced floors that together form a digital valley, each floor contains a covered part as a traditional work environment, which is then uncovered on the terraces. halfway through the building, the valley is mirrored to generate a three-dimensional canopy.’  

14. New Museum For Western Australia, Perth

Perth, Australia.

Taking on the challenge of Adaptive Reuse, this collaboration between OMA and HASSELL has put forward a design that revitalizes the cultural precinct of Perth while highlighting the contemporary architecture of Australia for the increasingly diverse and multicultural population which makes it one of the Starchitecture project. Refurbished heritage buildings and newly built volumes house the Museum exhibitions, event spaces, and public areas.

The core element of the museum is the ‘The City Room’ which is an outdoor public space in the center of the museum meant for interacting, and small and large scale events. “The design is based on the intersection of a horizontal and vertical loop, creating large possibilities of curatorial strategies for both temporary and fixed exhibitions,” says OMA.

13. 685 First Avenue, New York

New York, USA.

This 42 storey residential tower is a Starchitecture project which provides 556 apartments and a panoramic view of the New York City riverfront. Richard Meier has collaborated with East River Realty Development LLC to provide an innovative and timeless design that reflects on the history and contributes to the city’s remarkable changing styles. Intended to be one of the landmark buildings of the area, this iconic, transparent and minimal project is the first all-black glass building and the tallest tower in New York City, designed by Richard Meiers.

The towers taut curtain wall is incised with modular subdivisions and articulated with selective metal panel elements in the form of balconies, canopies, and corners. The cut out on the 27th and 28th floors give the building a distinguishing feature, visible from across the East River. Amenities include an indoor swimming pool, fitness center, kids playroom, tablet/workroom, game room, private dining room, and lounge. These amenities and public spaces come alive with a rich palette of colors and textures and tactile materials.

The residents share a grand common lobby which provides a visual and physical connection with the surrounding context. The building also has retail space on the ground floor to promote urban activity along First Avenue.

12. Whittle School, China

Shenzhen, China.

Considering openness, transparency and natural light pivotal for any learning complex, this school was designed by Renzo Piano to enhance each of those things. The 58,000 square meter school is organized into 2 buildings, a main 10 storey structure, and a smaller 3 storey structure. The main building has 2 floors below ground and 8 above, with the ground and first 3 floors set back, emphasizing the 4 middle storeys.

All classrooms are located along the perimeter of the building, providing each one with a direct view outside. The main commons face the central stairs and receive natural light from the skylight above.

The smaller building has 18 dedicated learning studios, facing a private garden and playground. The design ensures natural light fills the spaces entering the building through the intelligent glazed facades and the large central light well.

11. 565 Broome Soho, New York

New York, USA.

“For 565 Broome Soho, Renzo Piano set out to create a building that is shaped by light,” said the press statement. His design includes two identical glass towers with rounded corners, consisting of 115 residences ranging from studio apartments to 4 bedroom flats. For the interiors, RPBW collaborated with the Paris studio Rena Dumas Architecture Interieure (RDAI).

The two buildings are connected by a 10 storey podium at the base with private parking spots along with charging stations, with the glass facade allowing natural light. Providing multiple amenities, the building includes a fitness center, indoor saltwater pool, steam rooms, saunas, children’s playroom, lounge, common laundry room, bicycle storage, and an outdoor terrace.

The complex has several recycling schemes for its residents, including composting bins and areas for recycling electronic waste and fabrics, and is expected to become one of the city’s Zero Waste Buildings.

1 2

Rethinking The Future (RTF) is a Global Platform for Architecture and Design. RTF through more than 100 countries around the world provides an interactive platform of highest standard acknowledging the projects among creative and influential industry professionals.

Write A Comment