Fifteen years ago, it would have been difficult–and in some cases impossible–to engineer the buildings in these pages. Now powerful computer-assisted design and manufacturing techniques let architects build according to wholly new geometries. In this era, the rectilinear glass box has become a quaint relic of the predigital past.
Zaha Hadid Architects
Most of the Phaeno Science Center’s weight rests on a series of scattered concrete cones that seamlessly taper down from the building’s underbelly. But the cones are not only structural supports: they also house a bookstore, a theater, and the museum’s entrance. Computers configured the exact cone placement necessary for the curvaceous design to work, and a new material called self-compacting concrete filled it out. It is the only concrete capable of sustaining a structure with such sweeping curves and tight angles.
Credit: Werner Huthmacher/Zaha Hadid