Best of the Best of the Best-Ofs: Top Top 10 Architecture Lists

The decade’s best looks all the same, except for an enlightened list from the folks at Mammoth.


In the architecture world in the past few weeks, no one has had more fun than the Burj-bashers (except, I guess, their headline writers). It’s almost too easy: a pinnacle of vanity, the Hummer of architecture, a symbol of an era in which no one would choose to live. What ties the reviews together is that they aren’t just about the tower–they use the Burj as a scapegoat for a decade of excess. But if the ’00s were such a boom, why do all the Best of the Decade lists look the same?

  • The Post gives Herzog and de Meuron two of its Top Five spots (for the Tate Modern and the Beijing Stadium).
  • The Guardian takes an Anglo-centric look, but reminds us of some oft-forgotten gems like the Blur Building and the Observatory Hotel in Cerro Paranal, Chile. (Yes, Herzog and de Meuron’s Bird’s Nest makes his list too.)
  • The Huffington Post’s list is an almost perfect combination of those two: Six of its top 10 come from Glancey’s ten, two from the Post’s five. It’s all the hits: Burj, Bird’s Nest, CCTV.
  • In New York, Curbed pools a small group of commenters, critics, and architects to come up with its own predictable list: Alice Tully Hall, the New Museum, and 40 Bond (Herzog and de Meuron clearly had the best decade of all).
bird nest

And then, just a few days ago, came this. Mammoth, a fascinating, super-heady, theoretical architecture blog, posted a defiantly weird list that includes things like the Hadron Collider, the iPhone, and a “wetland machine.” The selections are unique in size and scope–not necessarily big (though most are), the projects definitely think big, re-imagining place and space and our relationship to it (this is a theory blog, after all). Not so fast, curmudgeons–the ’00s were more than just glitz and glam.


P-REX’s wetland machine would repair Italy’s drained Pontine marshes.