Plenty of distinctive projects were announced or completed in 2018, but at The Architect’s Newspaper, no form so thoroughly captures our imagination as much as the pyramid. The primitive shape came up again and again in our reporting, and, acknowledging its (maybe Illuminati-masterminded) importance, we’ve collected the top pyramid stories of the year for easy consumption.
January saw a clash of the titans play out on Facebook, as the Socially condensed fully-built enviromemes (SCFBE) page pitted some of history’s most famous pyramids against each other for the title of world’s greatest. Sixteen pyramids were paired off and users voted to eliminate one until only the strongest remained. Ever wonder if the Tyrell Corporation headquarters from Blade Runner is superior to BIG’s Via 57 West? Could the Bass Pro Shop at the Pyramid in Memphis beat the Great Pyramid of Giza in a fight? In April, the Tyrell Corporation headquarters squared off against North Korea’s Ryugyong Hotel in the final round, but the fictional office building lost out to Pyongyang’s “Hotel of Doom.”
Of course, not all pyramid stories are happy. In July, the Gold Pyramid House in Wadsworth, Illinois, was gutted by a fire that caused over $3 million in damages and threatened to shutter the popular tourist attraction. The six-story home had been a fixture in Illinois since its completion in 1977, its strange shape an attempt by owners Jim and Linda Onan to channel magical energy (the building was originally clad in 8,000 24-karat gold plates until neighbors complained about the glare).
The pyramid, which sits on its own private island surrounded by a moat and is guarded by a 55-foot-tall guard statue of Ramses II, was thought to have been lost, but the Onans have pledged to rebuild. Although it was still a burned-out husk in October, the couple opened their doors to the public for tours during a fall festival. Unfortunately, because zoning codes have changed since the pyramid was first built, it likely can’t be rebuilt as a home because it sits in a floodplain.
The Ryugyong Hotel began construction in 1987, but it wasn’t until 2018 that the building finally came to life. The concrete mountain has been covered in LED panels, and as a video posted by the Facebook page North Korea Girls 북조선녀성 in August shows, it’s now used as a backdrop to display art and propaganda. Any video released to the public of the 105-story hotel has made it past North Korea’s hypervigilant sensors, and it remains uncertain whether the building will ever actually be completed or occupied.
Rounding out the year was the announcement that Shigeru Ban Architects (SBA) had designed a trio of timber pyramids for Kentucky Owl bourbon in Bardstown, Kentucky. The pyramids, each wrapped in a diamond pattern, will anchor the new 420-acre Kentucky Owl Park and contain the campus’s distillery. The $150 million project will be integrated into the Kentucky Bourbon Trail when the campus opens in 2020.