Aside from enhancing its brilliance, a gemstone’s cuts form graceful facets and shapes that have caught the eye of modern architects. Buildings with crystalline forms may not require angular planes to shine brighter, but they do create geometric marvels worthy of a second look.
Whether its inspired by a human-cut stone or a naturally occurring mineral, a building with diamond-like angles is at once visually refreshing and at home in today’s architectural vernacular.
Daniel Libeskind’s Crystal addition to the Royal Ontario Museum adds a jolt of modernity to the historic institution, while Farshid Moussavi’s Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland provides a dynamic home befitting of the leading-edge art within. Here, AD has selected eight scintillating examples of buildings whose prismatic designs have rendered them architectural gems.
The multifaceted facade of the Basque Health Department Headquarters in Bilbao, Spain, is composed of mirrored panes off glass that become translucent at night. Designed by Coll-Barreu Arquitectos, the structure is meant to showcase the city’s dynamic nature by reflecting it from all angles.
Located on Chicago’s Michigan Avenue, the Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership displays a glass exterior with angled facets designed to increase the natural light within while providing sweeping views of the city. The work of Krueck+Sexton Architects, this building required 726 pieces of glass to make it’s distinctive front.
Clad in mirrored black stainless steel and glass, this gem-like building is the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland by architect Farshid Moussavi. Designed with a hexagonal base and a square top, this six-sided structure is the London-based architect’s first in the United States.
New York, New York
The Spring Street Salt Shed, built to house the New York City Department of Sanitation’s salt stores for winter, displays a concrete facade with crystalline angles. A collaboration between Dattner Architects and WXY Architecture + Urban Design, the building overlooks the Hudson River and contains approximately 5,000 tons of salt.
Located in Poitiers, France, this jagged glass structure is Le Kinémax, an IMAX cinema in the future-themed amusement park Futuroscope. Designed by architect Denis Laming and opened in 1987, this building is one of the most eerily recognized in the park, which features many other pavilions of Laming’s design.
Completed in 2011, the Shenzhen Universiade Sports Centre is an arena designed by gmp architekten for that year’s Universiade international collegiate athletics competition. The peaks and valleys formed by the prismatic exterior were inspired by the natural elevations of the surrounding landscape.
Situated on London’s Royal Victoria Dock, The Crystal is an events venue, urban sustainability exhibition, and office for manufacturing conglomerate Siemens by Perkins+Will and Wilkinson Eyre Architects. Opened in 2012, the gleaming, faceted building is meant to be a model of energy efficiency and has the highest of both BREEAM and LEED certifications.
Jutting out from the Royal Ontario Museum in Canada is architect Daniel Libeskind’s Michael Lee-Chin Crystal, a 2007 addition to the institution that serves as the main entrance. Inspired by the museum’s collection of gems and minerals, the jagged structure achieves its cubist-like geometry with panels of aluminum and glass.