Here at Wallpaper*, our commitment to superlative design has seen a consistent focus on architectural marvels the globe over. Here, we highlight a number of the choice American builds that have graced our hallowed pages in recent years. From private residences to company headquarters, minimalist rural escapes to towering urban piles, there'll be something here for any fan of superior contemporary architecture.
The winner in the Best New Private House category in the 2015 Wallpaper* Design Awards – revealed in February this year – was this oceanfront house. Punctuated by a central courtyard, Vault House's pure-white block is cut through with arches, vaults and skylights. Designed by Johnston Marklee, special permits allowed the owners to build 6m closer to the surf than any of their neighbours, making the views all the more striking. Though the building looks like cast concrete, it's actually synthetic stucco over a wood frame. With its vaulted underbelly, the house appears to perch lightly on the sand, but it's a lightness secured by massive underground pylons, designed to withstand high waves, wind and erosion.Photography: Nicholas Alan Cope
This nondescript industrial block in Greenpoint, Brooklyn – featured in W* 188 – was an unlikely choice when it came to relocating a powerful digital enterprise, but Kickstarter did not earn its success by following a rule book. The crowd-funding authority – which last year celebrated its fifth birthday and has racked up $1bn in pledges since its inception – has not only moved its operations away from the hubbub of Manhattan, but has bought its own digs, a rarity in the start-up world. 'It was really raw,' says architect Ole Sondresen, the New York-based Norwegian who oversaw the renovation. 'There were holes in the roof and light tunnels coming down. There were puddles on the floor, pigeons flying around in the dark. It was really dramatic and magical. We wanted to try to keep as much of it as possible.'Writer: Pei-Ru Keh. Photography: Adam Friedberg
Sondresen set out to repurpose what was salvageable. In addition to preserving the historic elements, such as original lintels, arches and bollards too, and a 74-seat theatre, for screening new film projects, hosting musical performances and staging company presentations.Writer: Pei-Ru Keh. Photography: Adam Friedberg
The WMS Boathouse on the banks of the once-squalid Chicago River has a profile inspired by motion-picture pioneer Eadweard Muybridge's early films of men rowing. The boathouse was designed by Chicago-based architect Jeanne Gang and her office Studio Gang and featured in the January 2015 issue of Wallpaper*. For the architects, the geometry of oars in motion suggested the building's roofing of alternating M- and inverted V-shaped trusses.Writer: Jay Pridmore. Photography: Steven Hall
The result is an exterior profile that enlivens a once-abandoned riverfront on a city park site, miles from the waterway's main branch through downtown Chicago. The design encourages human interaction with nature – the staggered clerestories opening to southern sun in the winter and cool breezes in the summer – echoing the sport it houses, 'where each person has to be in tune with other people in the boat', says Gang.Writer: Jay Pridmore. Photography: Steven Hall
Transforming some 60 acres of former commercial and retail space into a new community in Honolulu, Ward Village (W*195) is the brainchild of US developer Howard Hughes Corporation. The former IBM building, designed by master of Hawaiian modernism Vladimir Ossipoff in 1962, has been turned into an information centre and sales gallery by Woods Bagot architects, retaining its distinctive cast-concrete brise-soleil. New buildings by the likes of Richard Meier & Partners Architects and Vancouver's James Cheng are on the way. The first residential units are scheduled for completion in 2016.Writers: Sebastian Jordahn, Ellie Stathaki. Photography: Regan Grey
Jewish deli Wise Sons' outpost at San Francisco's Contemporary Jewish Museum, featured in Wallpaper* 174, was formed from the perfect union between architect Daniel Libeskind's bold geometric structure and restaurateurs Evan Bloom and Leo Beckerman's visions of old-world charm. To get the mix just right, interior designer Danny Gonzales used the colours and textures familiar to patrons of the cult deli's Mission District address, while also introducing site-specific pieces in tune with the contemporary style of the space.Writer: Micha van Dinther. Photography: Henrik Kam, Andrés Garcia Lachner
Built originally for movie star Gary Cooper and since owned by a string of actors, gallery owners and casino moguls, this 1995 modernist masterpiece, featured in W*166, is a Hollywood legend in its own right. The walls and windows don't seem to be there. From carpet to concrete to plants and trees, rooms are just part of the gradient. They don't as much end as fade away. Certainly, walls and windows do exist here in this home design by Archibald Quincy Jones, but whether it's inside or outside, there's no connection lost to what's behind the glass.Writer: Nate Berg. Photography: Laura Wilson
From the street, all one can see is an array of dense hedges, each eight feet tall. Beyond these green walls are all those tiny universes, spinning and twinkling on their own, only coming within each other's orbit through the tinted windows of cars that pass each other by. This understated aura of seclusion creates the conditions for the house and garden to overlap so well. Long before the advent of drone-flying paparazzi and the 24-hour celebrity gossip news cycle, Jones' design demonstrated how to blend architecture with intimate spaces of outdoor respite.Writer: Nate Berg. Photography: Laura Wilson
Craig Bassam and Scott Fellow's Hodgson House in New Canaan, Connecticut, was designed by Philip Johnson in 1951, with lighting by Richard Kelly. The BassamFellows designers have extended the rigour of their professional vision into their private lives. Their house, which is right across the street from the architect's renowned Glass House, was featured in Wallpaper's April 2013 issue. Its exposed I-beam structure on a travertine plinth makes the perfect setting for their designs and vintage Mies van der Rohe pieces. In New Canaan, built-ins by Johnson meet vintage Poul Kjaerholm, Eames, Ward Bennett and an ensemble of BassamFellows furniture.Writer: Henry Urbach. Photography: François Dischinger
The January 2014 issue of Wallpaper* featured emerging practices who got a foot on the career ladder with their accomplished first builds. Heather Roberge established LA practice Murmur in 2008. Her research 'investigates the influence of digital design and fabrication on architecture. It asks, how do we produce architectural surfaces with the technology we have now?' Her first residential build, Vortex House in Malibu, was designed to capture the site's views. 'It's designed inside out,' she says. 'When you're in the house, the experience is about being immersed in the landscape without resorting to transparency.'Writer: Mimi Zeiger. Photography: Lasse Bech Martinussen, Lucas Foglia, Michiel Meeuwis
Finding a pristine plot is every architect's dream. When Casper Mork-Ulnes was approached by two San Francisco couples with a brief for a sleek retreat a hundred miles or so north up the 101, deep into Californian wine country, the site was the main attraction. In the house, featured in W*176, viewing axes shoot off in the three carefully chosen directions, looking across to Eagle Rock, a local landmark, as well as a distant ridge and the vineyard-filled valley. To the right is the kitchen with the 'great room' beyond, with two bedrooms and bathrooms occupying the other fingers. This is essentially a shelter for a very outdoor-focused lifestyle, and fixtures and fittings are kept to a bare minimum. The sense of space is also preserved by the glazed upper sections of the twin washroom boxes, which maintain the flow of light right through the structure, as well as by the great expanses of uncut raw materials.Writer: Jonathan Bell. Photography: Bruce Damonte
If architecture is the poetry of construction, then Renzo Piano's latest creation, the new Whitney Museum of American Art, featured in Wallpaper's May 2015 issue, is a metaphor in concrete and steel. The Whitney's new downtown home is tailor made to display the best of the museum's collections and cutting edge new arrivals. Turn around and gaze through the column-free galleries to windows that look out over the Hudson River and westward to the nation beyond, the Whitney's self-assigned jurisdiction. It's not just breathtaking; it's a 360-degree view of the Whitney's mission. On the right, the internal stairwell allows visitors to flow freely between the eight storeys, or they can use one of four distinctive lifts conceived by artist Richard Artschwager.
Writer: Julie L Belcove. Photography: Fumi Nagasaka
A rowing club boathouse is generally a pretty traditional affair: insignia flags projecting from balconies, interiors tricked out with trophy cases, victory photos and crossed oars. Everything, in short, that Architecture Research Office's kayak pavilion in Beacon, NY – a modernist shed that makes Mies look maximal – is not. ARO's design, featured in W*159, is a 30 ft by 100 ft corrugated steel roof floating above a wooden launching deck that folds into the river.
Writer: Marc Kristal. Photographer: James Ewing
Our December 2014 issue featured a celebratory spread for the 30th birthday of David Rockwell's multidisciplinary architecture practice the Rockwell Group. In the fickle world of celebrity, theatre, hospitality and entertainment, Rockwell’s versatility and adaptability has ensured loyalty and long-standing relationships. ‘The quality that resonates with me the most about David’s work is that he approaches design as if it was entertainment.’ says Ian Schrager. One of these entertainment-centric designs is the Hollywood Dolby Theatre, which was specifically designed to have none of its technology visible and used as a broadcast studio for the 2008 Academy Awards.
Photography: Tom Moore, Eric Laignel, Paul Warchol
Paula Crown's workspace is on the third floor of a 20th century office building overlooking Chicago's Millennium Park and the Jay Pritzker Pavilion. Designed by Studio Gang Architects and featured in our November 2014 issue, the space blends elements of an artist’s loft and a modern media centre, via a considered, environmental design. The site is a largely open, 5,000 sq ft, third-floor space with a deep floor plate and large windows. While close to Chicago’s central Loop district, it’s also within walking distance of the Art Institute of Chicago and the Chicago Cultural Centre, neighbours that were key in Crown’s choice of this 1914 office building.
Photography: Steven Hall. Writer: Jay Pridmore
Crown's artistic process involves a series of discrete phases and separate tools; the studio’s spatial arrangement corresponds to the way Crown and her assistants take projects from idea to completion. The mostly white interior flows from a reception area to a 'clean room' where ideas are developed (pictured), to workrooms, where physical objects are created, and to a wide back stairway to get oversized works out of the door.
Photography: Steven Hall Writer: Jay Pridmore
With its distinctive form and cedar and limestone facade, Water Mill House cuts a striking shape. Instead of taking you right up to the house, the driveway leads to one end of the property, and from here, a wooden veranda traces one side of the house, leading to the main entrance. Designed by Brooklyn-based architecture practice Khanna Schultz, the house, featured in W*181, unfolds in three parts. The main dwelling area, comprised of a living room, dining room, entertainment room and kitchen, forms the core, while a master suite stacked above two additional bedrooms occupies the western wing, which is split into three levels with an office underneath.
Writer: Pei-Ru Keh
Additionally, there's a separate two-storey guest house and a pool complex. Instead of interrupting the greenery, Khanna Schultz pushed the complex – including a patio, a hot tub and changing quarters – and the tennis court to one side of the site, away from the main expanse. The pool house roof hides a 12kw photovoltaic array, which works in tandem with other energy-saving features.
Writer: Pei-Ru Keh
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