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Arbre Blanc (White Tree) by Sou Fujiomoto, Manal Rachdi and Nicolas Laisne, is rising in Montpellier, France

56 Leonard Street, Tribeca, New York, by Herzog & de Meuron
The ongoing quest to make condo living a unique experience has never been more apparent than with Herzog & de Meuron’s 56 Leonard Street, which has topped off in Tribeca, New York. Its Jenga-like skyline profile is hard to miss, the result of making every experience and vantage point, both inside and out, unlike any other. It is more like 145 individual houses stacked one on top of the other, and with no two floor plates exactly the same. When it’s completed, sometime in 2016, 14-foot-tall windows will take in panoramic views and balconies jutting over Tribeca and will be so large they’ll feel more like patios.


Jeddah Tower, Saudi Arabia, by Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture
When Jeddah Tower, formerly Kingdom Tower, reaches completion some time in 2020, it will stand approximately one kilometre tall, though its exact height remains a secret for now. Regardless its final measurements, it is destined to be the tallest skyscraper in the world, at least 180 metres taller than the current record breaker, Burj Khalifa in Dubai. Every detail about its construction and design, estimated at $US1.4 billion, is mind-boggling: there will be approximately 167 floors, primarily occupied by the Four Seasons Hotel; 59 elevators will travel at 35 kilometres an hour, five of which will be double-deck elevators; and its glass-floored sky terrace (610 metres up) will extend off one of the private suites. Wind was the biggest structural challenge, and to help reduce sway, the tower’s footprint is a triangle and its smooth facade aerodynamically tapered.


One Bloor in Toronto, by Hariri Pontarini
Bloor and Yonge is considered the centre of Toronto; it divides south and north, east and west. For decades its south-eastern corner was a hodgepodge of low-end retail and fast food joints. When the 1990s condo boom hit, the dives were torn down to make way for redevelopment, which promptly failed various times before finally taking hold in 2008 with a design by local firm Hariri Pontarini. Now topped out, with tenants expected to move in this spring, the 76-storey multi-use tower boasts a dramatic, sinuous profile. One Bloor’s most redeeming feature, besides its prime location, is its extensive list of luxe amenities, including a year-round indoor/outdoor pool, cold and hot plunges, ice fountains, foot baths and a fireplace look-out.


Manhattan Loft Garden in London, by SOM and MLC
Since the London 2012 Summer Olympics wrapped, the megacity’s east end has transformed into “Olympicopolis,” spurred on by new development and some enticing future residents, including the Smithsonian Institution’s first museum outside the U.S. The newest address to reach completion, in 2018, will be this 42-story tower by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and MLC, which combines a 150-room hotel with 248 residential units above. Its designers are angling to encourage more social interaction between neighbours with lots of leisure facilities worked into the scheme, including a spa, and a roof garden that overlooks the development that started it all: Olympic Park.


City Hyde Park in Chicago, by Studio Gang
Located at a commercial intersection near Lake Michigan and adjacent to a commuter rail stop, City Hyde Park is hoping to stimulate street-level activity with wider sidewalks, and make strolling and sidewalk cafes a more attractive option. While not a super-tower, this 15-storey building, slated for a 2016 completion, will be tall in comparison to its neighbours. Its accordion facade emphasizes its structure, with stacked concrete panels forming columns, sunshades, and balconies. The design is also angling to encourage more opportunities for neighbourly encounters and a greater connection to the surroundings. In fact, finding ways for people to connect through architecture is one of principal Jeanne Gang’s specialties. Her famed Aqua skyscraper is so socially oriented that people have met and married each other after meeting via balconies that overlook one another between floors.


Copenhagen Gate, in Copenhagen, by Steven Holl
The city of Copenhagen has finally given New York architect Steven Holl the green light on Copenhagen Gate, a twin-tower project originally unveiled in 2008. The ambitious plan will see the buildings rise at either side of the historic city harbour entrance, and join together via a jaw-dropping pedestrian bridge located 150 metres above water. Each tower carries its own cable-stay bridge between the two piers. Due to the site geometry, the bridges will meet at an angle, joining like a handshake over the harbour.


Arbre Blanc (White Tree) by Sou Fujiomoto, Manal Rachdi and Nicolas Laisne, is rising in Montpellier, France
Arbre Blanc in Montpellier, France, by Sou Fujimoto with Manal Rachdi Oxo and Nicolas Laisne
This wildly original 17-storey mixed-use tower, named Arbre Blanc, which translates as White Tree, won an international competition in 2014. Its tree trunk shape was inspired by Montpellier’s tradition of outdoor living, with 120 apartment balconies and shades fanning out like giant leaves, providing residents with panoramic views over the city and surrounding rivers. Other amenities include an art gallery, a restaurant, a bar and offices. To date, 70 per cent of the units have sold and construction is slated to begin this spring with an expected completion date of early 2018.


The Beacon, Vauxhall, South London, by aLLDesign
Will Alsop’s studio, aLL Design, has submitted plans for a 1,735 square-metre residential tower in Vauxhall, located on the same street as Caruso St John’s recently completed gallery for Damien Hirst. It’s the latest development that is turning the area into a serious art district. Called The Beacon, its 15 storeys features the usual Alsop fun with lots of curves, blobs and a palette of brilliant colours. A narrow footprint makes room for some generous external areas on ground level, which Alsop envisions being filled with public seating, landscaping and art installations. Meanwhile, the main lobby is earmarked to become an exhibition space for local artists. The tower includes 12 units, with each one occupying a whole floorplate.

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