Critical Thinking

Our 12 top building reviews of 2016

Crit National
(Port Authority of New York and New Jersey)
(Port Authority of New York and New Jersey)

The Architect’s Newspaper strives to bring you candid and insightful takes on top projects from across the U.S. Here we’ve gathered some of our best reviews, which range from critical to commending and everything in between. (See the rest of our Year in Review 2016 articles here.)

World Trade Center Transit Hub by Santiago Calatrava Architects & Engineers
Santiago Calatrava’s WTC Transit Hub opened with much anticipation and mixed reviews. AN reached out to New York’s architects, designers, and engineers to hear their thoughts on the structure.

(Courtesy Iwan Baan)

(Courtesy Iwan Baan)

One Santa Fe by Michael Maltzan Architecture
Architect Michael Maltzan describes his One Santa Fe as an example of “anticipatory architecture”—exercises in form making that endow architecture with the power to productively shape urban policy, planning, and the city at large.

(Courtesy Iwan Baan)

(Courtesy Iwan Baan)

Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA) by Diller Scofidio + Renfro
It is impossible to visit the new BAMPFA without inducing comparisons to DS+R’s The Broad, even though the two museums—one budget-minded, one blockbuster—share few common approaches and features.

3595 Broadway by Magnusson Architecture and Planning
3595 Broadway’s non-confrontational formal language visualizes critical conditions about how Columbia University positions itself when speaking to their ivy-league-educated audience in their Manhattanville and Medical Center buildings in comparison to the public around their 3595 Broadway building at 148th street.

(Courtesy Field Condition)

(Courtesy Field Condition)

The Salt Shed by Dattner Architects and WXY
There’s a collection of buildings in a city that always strike one as other, as something not easily reduced to the events of inhabitation. One example in downtown Manhattan that testifies to this quality is lower west side’s new Salt Shed.

The Whitney by Renzo Piano Building Workshop
A year after the initial “wait and see,” it is time to call the Renzo Piano–designed Whitney building what it really is: An architectural tourist trap.

(Courtesy Eric Staudenmaier Photography)

(Courtesy Eric Staudenmaier Photography)

Pico Branch Library by Koning Eizenberg Architecture (KEA)
The Pico library branch doesn’t privilege one side of its park over the other, and its experiment in neighborhood connectivity is most significant in this spirit of quiet assertion—that a building can possess a multitude of functions, but is only successful in doing so if it remains a place of enjoyment and discovery for everyone.

Gordon Parks Arts Hall by Valerio Dewalt Train Associates (VDTA)
The University of Chicago features an impressive collection of buildings by notable architects: Holabird & Root, Frank Lloyd Wright, Eero Saarinen, Mies van der Rohe, César Pelli, Rafael Viñoly, Jeanne Gang, and more. In October 2015, Chicago–based Valerio Dewalt Train Associates (VDTA) joined these prestigious ranks with their Gordon Parks Arts Hall, the latest addition to the University of Chicago Laboratory School.

(Courtesy Darren Bradley)

(Courtesy Darren Bradley)

The National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) by J. Max Bond of Davis Brody Bond, Phil Freelon, David Adjaye, and SmithGroupJJR
The NMAAHC truly delivers something that few pieces of architecture can: It is a cascade of metaphors for collectivity, but is also in harmony with its content and program.

(Courtesy Iwan Baan)

(Courtesy Iwan Baan)

Roy and Diana Vagelos Education Center of Columbia University Medical Center by Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DS+R)
Nearly four decades since Elizabeth Diller and Ricardo Scofidio began the collaboration that today is DS+R, with the Vagelos Center they have completed their most perfectly resolved building, an amalgam of their interests and the lessons learned from earlier projects.

AN's hottest critical takes of 2016. Seen here: The Vessel by Thomas Heatherwick. (Courtesy Forbes Massie, Heatherwick Studio)

AN’s hottest critical takes of 2016. Seen here: The Vessel by Thomas Heatherwick. (Courtesy Forbes Massie, Heatherwick Studio)

Vessel by Thomas Heatherwick
When Thomas Heatherwick unveiled his design for a new public landmark called Vessel at Hudson Yards, questions abounded. What is it? What will it do to the neighborhood? And what does it say that Stephen Ross, the president and CEO of Related Companies, the primary developer of Hudson Yards, is financing the entire $250 million piece by himself?

Center for Character and Leadership Development (CCLD) at the Air Force Academy by SOM
Sited next to Walter Netsch’s virtuosic 1963 Cadet Chapel, the CCLD is an artful study in conflict avoidance, restraint, and strategic power projection.

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