Marvels of Architecture: 5 Fascinating Buildings across the World

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Photo of Marvels of Architecture: 5 Fascinating Buildings across the World 1/1 by Dixie Somers

From the Great Pyramids of Giza to India's Taj Mahal, mankind's past is littered with stupendous achievements of architecture. While these feats of construction certainly and justifiably inspire wonder, many fail to realize that our modern cities are packed with their own contemporary marvels of architecture. Thanks to advancements in architectural science and construction techniques, there are plenty of modern, fascinating buildings that easily match or rival even the greatest wonders of the ancient world.

Burj Khalifa, Dubai UAE

Measuring in at a startling 2,722 feet, Dubai's Burj Khalifa is the current record holder for the world's tallest man-made structure. The 163-floor mixed-use building was designed by Adrian Smith, an American architect also famous for designing Chicago's Trump International Hotel and Tower. Burj Khalifa is designed in the neo-futurism style, while its tiered, spiraling pattern reflects more ancient examples of Islamic architecture found throughout the Middle East. The building has 24,348 windows which require a team of 36 workers and nearly four months to clean.

Ryugyong Hotel, North Korea

Humorously nicknamed the Hotel of Doom and Phantom Hotel, North Korea's Ryugyong Hotel is equal parts awe-inspiring and utterly baffling. Situated in the country's capital city of Pyongyang, the 105-story triangular colossus juts out like a sharp fang from the city's otherwise squat and unimpressive skyline. Officially unfinished, the intimidating building has been in the construction phase since 1987 and is currently the tallest structure in all of North Korea. Once completed, the Ryugyong Hotel will contain several revolving restaurants along with apartment and office spaces.

Marina Sands, Singapore

While technically three buildings, the Marina Sands consists of three asymmetric towers topped and connected by a three-acre park packed with jogging paths, swimming pools and gardens. The building is connected at the ground-level via a continuous lobby. The Marina Sands is the centerpiece of a much larger casino and resort area. Architect Moshe Safdie designed the multi-purpose building to evoke the shape of a deck of cards, as well as meet the harmonizing principles of feng shui. It holds accommodations for up to 45,000 people and sports a casino, convention center, and even a museum.

The Shard, London

This 95-story, 1,016-foot-tall skyscraper may be only the second tallest structure in the United Kingdom, but what really sets The Shard apart is its dynamic architectural design. The slender, spiraling tower is covered in 11,000 individual glass panes that reflect the sun as it rises and sets above the streets of London. Renzo Piano designed the building to look like a colossal sculpture emerging from the city's skyline. The Shard's opening was celebrated with an elaborate laser light show that lit up the building's reflective glass exterior. Visitors can enjoy an observation deck on the pyramidal tower's 72nd floor, provided they buy tickets first.

Sydney Opera House, Australia

Far and away the most recognizable building in all of Australia, the Sydney Opera House hosts over 1,500 performances each year. Planning for the structure began in the 1940's and it was officially completed in 1973. The exterior of the building is made of parabola-shaped shells which represent one of the first examples of a computer being used to perform structural analysis. Each shell is covered in specially made ceramic tiles that make the beautifully shaped building stand out on the city's harbor. Inside, the Sydney Opera House is also famous for its incredible acoustic properties.

Art and Function

From apartment spaces, music halls, offices, and casinos, it's impressive when one steps back to examine the incredible artistry that goes into creating spaces for seemingly mundane purposes. Architecture is unique among the arts in that it perfectly straddles the line between aesthetics and functionality. Mankind has expressed himself through architecture since ancient times and advances in technology and building techniques have allowed the current generation of architects to build and expand upon this legacy.

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