Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Top 5 New-ish Buildings

Yesterday's post got me thinking about my favourite buildings and what they would be if I had to come up with a top 5. If I restrict the list to new-ish buildings, in no particular order:

1. The Gherkin in London
2. The Seattle Central Public Library in Seattle (duh)
3. The Four Seasons Centre in Toronto
4. The Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles
5. The Dancing Building in Prague

I've experienced all of these buildings up close and personal in some way:

The Gherkin, as previously mentioned, I saw while riding on the bus. I remember spending an afternoon along the Thames and watching it amongst the London skyline, and wishing that it wasn't so cloudy so that I could take a good picture of it. I also remember kicking myself for not pulling my camera out while I had the chance on the bus - but I was too busy taking it all in to even think about taking a picture.

I went to Seattle over the Labour Day long weekend with my ex 2 years ago when I was out on the west coast for a visit. We drove to Seattle partly so I could check out the library (below), which I had first read about in an article possibly by the Toronto Star's architecture critic, in person. We took the elevator up to the top floor and walked our way down the ramps, browsing the stacks as we went - it was a great, albeit geeky, way to spend a morning.


The Four Seasons Centre makes me look forward to going to the opera - which I've still yet to do there. I did go see The Nutcracker this past Christmas and it's just a beautiful building inside. The glass box design really does bring the city in and makes the audience part of the spectacle to those without. Even within the building, the heavy use of glass gives this sense of amazing space - we could see from the top level down to the bar in the main lobby, and the wide steps allow for seating and lounging during intermissions. It's certainly not the typical night at the opera one would expect to experience, that's for sure.

It's interesting to me that the last 2 buildings on my list are Frank Gehry designs. I took the picture below of the Walt Disney Concert Hall back in June of 2004 when I was out there to visit one of my oldest friends. We waited in line in the bright sun to get rush seats to a piano recital by a Japanese pianist who my friend's husband was a fan of. This was soon after I had chopped off about a foot of hair (I was bored) to boy-short and I remember getting a sun burn on the back of my neck that day - it hadn't occurred to me to use sunscreen since the back of my neck was usually covered by my hair.

Anyway, we got some pretty great seats about a dozen rows from the stage and the cool thing was that the pianist ended up sitting a seat away from us after the intermission. We asked her for her autograph, even though we weren't really fans because we thought it'd be fun.

Finally, I was in Prague last April with another one of my best friends, S. Prague is a great city to wander around in. We spent an afternoon walking about with the aim of hitting some of the architectural highlights - Gehry's "Fred and Ginger" building below among them. The approach we made to the building was perfect because it sits on a corner and it just so happened that we came towards it from the front. We tried to get inside but the cafe that was on the main level appeared to be closed and it looked like a pass was needed to get into the building so we just admired it from without.


I've always found Top lists hard to compile, but this was fun. Based on the international flavour of my list, I've been very fortunate to travel and experience the architecture first-hand....and now that I'm done my list, it's suddenly occurred to me that I've completely forgotten the Sydney Opera House, which I toured in 2002 while there for my cousin's wedding! Drat!

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