Best Architecture of 2008?

By Aaron Britt / Published by Dwell
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Just a couple days ago the Los Angeles Times posted a slideshow of their picks for the Best Architecture: 2008, complete with commentary by their very fine architecture critic, Chris Hawthorne.

Though the slideshow proceeds as a kind of rogue's gallery of 2008 in architecture, the Bird's Nest Stadium and National Aquatics Center from the Beijing Olympics show up right away, followed closely by Rem Koolhaas' CCTV building in the same city. There were a couple curveballs though, primarily the inclusion of the much-maligned Neoclassical backdrop behind Barack Obama when he took the stage at the Democratic National Convention in Denver to accept his party's presidential nomination. 

Here's Hawthorne: "When Obama decided to move his convention speech to the 71,000-seat Invesco Field, he stole a page from McKim, Mead and White, emerging onto a stage lined with a colonnade and meant to look like a cross between the Lincoln Memorial and the White House. We’ll never know for sure how many votes the backdrop won or lost for Obama, but the set design likely ranks as the most ambitious use of architectural symbolism in the history of American presidential politics."

A lofty ploy indeed, though Republicans, and those Democrats who cannot condone anything but high modernism, lambasted Obama for such a startling display of gaudily presumptuous set design.

The Times also offered a tip of the hat to this year's Pritzker Prize winner, Jean Nouvel, adding his "green blade" (above), a condo tower in Century City, California, to the list.

Rounding out the list is Renzo Piano's much-ballyhooed California Academy of Sciences building in San Francisco.  Conspicuously absent from the list of eight was a single house, though 2008 wasn't exactly the year for them, was it?

Any chance the LA Times got it wrong? What are your picks for the year's best in architecture?

Aaron Britt


Aaron writes the men's style column "The Pocket Square" for the San Francisco Chronicle and has written for the New York Times, the Times Magazine, Newsweek, National Geographic and others.

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