mar 14  | Architectural Record

Big, Bigger, Biggest

by Anna Fixsen

The future looms large for seven forthcoming projects around the globe that demonstrate ambition in scale and form. Click the image below to view a slide show of massive buildings in design or already underway.

Fake Hills
MAD Architects, Beihai, China
Weary of the humdrum residential buildings that are rising en masse in urban China, Beijing-based architect Ma Yansong and his team at MAD Architects sought to design a complex that could address demand for affordable housing and yet be iconic. The firm found a solution in an architectural mash-up of a high-rise and a “groundscraper”: the aptly named Fake Hills places a 636-foot tower alongside a rollercoaster form that undulates along a half-mile strip of shore on the South China Sea. Once completed in 2015, the 5.3 million-square-foot structure will include a roof platform for public spaces featuring swimming pools, tennis courts, and gardens.

Kingdom Tower
Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
Chicago-based firm Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill designed the Kingdom Tower to claim the title of world's tallest skyscraper. At a height of at least 3,280 feet, it will be taller than two and a half stacked Empire State buildings and at least 568 feet above its soaring older sibling, the Burj Khalifa, designed by Adrian Smith while he was at SOM. The tower is the crown jewel of Kingdom City, a new $20 billion development. To evoke the fronds of desert plants, the aerodynamic, high-efficiency tower rises above the Red Sea on a triangular base. When completed in 2019, the 5.7 million-square-foot building will include offices, a Four Seasons Hotel, luxury apartments, 59 elevators, and a cantilevered saucer-shaped observatory near the top at level 157.

Kazakhstan Astana World Expo
Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture, Astana, Kazakhstan
Last October, Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill beat out firms including Zaha Hadid, UNStudio, and Snøhetta to build Kazakhstan’s world exposition, EXPO-2017, in Astana. The 19 million-square-foot site will include 1.3 million square feet of exhibition space and cultural pavilions for more than 100 countries and 7.4 million square feet of residential development, as well as parks, hotels, and retail. The development’s centerpiece, the Kazakhstan Pavilion, is a quarter-millionsquare-foot orb with a specialized skin for mitigating solar glare. While EXPO-2017 lasts only three months, the firm designed the buildings so that, post-show, the main structures can be converted into an office park, and other buildings can be repurposed as well. Construction will begin in April.

Marina Lofts
BIG, Fort Lauderdale, Florida
For his upcoming residential project, Bjarke Ingels of the Danish firm BIG took the split-level to the next level—30 levels, in fact. Marina Lofts, a 1.3 million-square-foot three-building complex that will straddle an existing 250-boat marina along the bank of the New River, will contain 856 residential units (starting at a millennial-friendly $1,100 per month), restaurants, and retail. The split structures divided Fort Lauderdale residents: in a controversial move, an 80-year old rain tree, one of the largest specimens in the United States and a local landmark, will be transplanted to a park to make way for construction in late 2014.

Shanghai Tower
Gensler, Shanghai
When Shanghai's Pudong district was planned more than two decades ago, it was dotted with clusters of warehouses and factories. Now the region is home to the city's Lujiazui financial district and will boast the world's second-tallest skyscraper when Gensler's Shanghai Tower opens later this year. At 2,073 feet—surpassing its statuesque neighbors, the Jin Mao Tower and the Shanghai World Financial Center—the tower comprises 5.6 million square feet of offices, gardens, shops, and hotels. The building's 120 degree twist enables it to withstand typhoon-force winds.

Flinders Street Station
Herzog & de Meuron and Hassell, Melbourne
In August 2013, officials in Melbourne announced Swiss firm Herzog & de Meuron, along with Australian firm Hassell, as the winners of a competition to revitalize Flinders Street Station, a turn-of-the-century train hub. The station's original 1899 design included an unrealized arched roof with three large vaults. The architects used this scheme as the dominant motif in their entry, creating linear vaulted spaces that align over each track. The 1.2 million-square-foot building will incorporate a cultural center and an amphitheater. The government is conducting a feasibility study for this project.

432 Park Avenue
Rafael Viñoly\, New York City
Rafael Viñoly's 432 Park Avenue will be the western hemisphere's tallest residential structure when completed in 2015. Rising nearly 1,400 feet, it will soon be joined by a pack of sky-high glamazons overlooking Central Park, including Norman Foster's 425 Park Avenue and Christian de Portzamparc's One57. Developed by CIM Group, the 96-story building features a gridded facade of 10-by-10 foot windows and will have 30,000 square feet of amenities containing a lounge, restaurant, terraces, and spa.