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Best of 2012: The Year in Architecture

Architizer's best buildings of 2012, broken down into typologies.


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CCTV Tower by OMA, completed in May; Photo: Iwan Baan

It would be strange to say that architecture had a good year in 2012. Architects, as a professional workforce, couldn’t have started the year off at a greater disadvantage, what with the continued stalling or entire cancellation of projects shrinking the job market. Naturally, these developments could only hurt architecture students, who, not being able to find proper, compensated work, have no recourse but to settle for grueling unpaid internships that offer little in the way of useful education or experience.

At the same time, the year’s several high-profile events like the London Olympics—where Zaha Hadid’s sculptural diving boards billions of people saw while cheering on Michael Phelps—and the Venice Biennale have extended architecture’s reach in the public sphere. Who would have thought that the architecture of the presidential debate would have been sure blog bait? This side-effect, however, has already begun to fade, and news media continues to remind architects-in-waiting of their poorly considered ambition and career plans.

But you’re here for the inevitable year-end list. Well, about that

Because they take so long to construct, buildings don’t fit neatly into a year-by-year classification system the way music and movies do, which belong to a much more rapid production cycle. Despite recent technological advances in (pre-)fabrication, architecture, for the most part, likes to take its time. We’ve done our best to find the best buildings of the last 12-15 months; some of the projects were completed in late 2011, while others were only just opened.

The list is broken down into typologies, rather than ranked by number, another feature of the best-of list that doesn’t quite apply to architecture. After all, buildings come in several different shapes and sizes and never really subscribe to a single format or model. How, for example, to decide if Sou Fujimoto’s splendid House NA were “better” than Lyon’s recently-finished Swanston Academic Building? Both their scales and aims couldn’t be more different, yet they both are noted for their spatial innovations.

Now, that that’s covered, we hope you’ll enjoy our picks. Farewell, 2012. May 2013 bring more great buildings (and jobs!).

House NA
Tokyo/Japan
Designed by Sou Fujimoto
Learn more about this project here.

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M Building
Paris/France
Designed by Stéphane Maupin
Learn more about this project here.

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Swanston Academic Building
Melbourne/Australia
Designed by Lyons
Learn more about this project here.

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iGuzzini Illuminazione España SA Headquarters
Barcelona/Spain
Designed by MiAS Architects
Learn more about this project here.

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Photo by Iwan Baan

Galaxy SOHO
Beijing/China
Designed by Zaha Hadid Architects
Learn more about this project here.

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Photo by Christian Richters

MuséoParc Alésia
Alésia/France
Designed by Bernard Tschumi
Learn more about this project here.

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Nike “Victory Camp”
Eugene/Oregon
Designed by Skylab Architects and Hush Studio
Learn more about this project here.

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Photo by Michael Moran/OTTO

“Wendy”, 2012 MoMA Young Architects Program
MoMA PS1/New York
Designed by HWKN*
Learn more about this project here.

*Architizer sister company

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Twilight Epiphany
Rice University
Designed by James Turrell
Learn more about this project here.

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Photo by Craig Sheppard

Gardens by the Bay
Marina Bay/Singapore
Designed by Wilkinson Eyre and Grant Associates
Learn more about this project here.

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Photo by Iwan Baan

CCTV Tower
Beijing/China
Designed by OMA
Learn more about this project here.

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OCT Design Museum
Shenzhen/China
Designed by Studio Pei-Zhu
Learn more about this project here.



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