Vladislav Doronin, Aman Resorts owner and OKO Group chairman, founder and CEO, has spearheaded numerous high-profile developments across Miami and other US cities. In New York, OKO Group was tasked with refurbishing the landmark Crown Building, which subsequently reopened as Aman New York. This article will look at a selection of paradigm-shifting properties that redefined the cities that surround them.
When arriving in a new city, the first thing a person notices is its buildings. Of course, the food, dialect and customs also convey local culture. However, it is architecture that makes the greatest impression, with local landmarks serving as silent witnesses to the past and changing tastes, eras and kingdoms.
Created by visionary architects and engineers, the following iconic buildings have had a transformative impact on the cities that surround them.
Sharp Centre for Design – Toronto, Canada
Completed in 2004, the Sharp Centre was designed by British architect Will Alsop working in collaboration with the local firm Young + Wright Architects. This unusual extension to Ontario College of Art and Design University had a game-changing impact on the city of Toronto. Known for its numerous glass and steel towers and grey tones, the city had never seen such a playful structure. Propped up by multicoloured legs, the two-storey construction resembles an elaborate tabletop, decorated with black, white, blue and grey panels in a pixelated pattern. Standing 26 metres tall in total, the form floats precariously above a block of low-rise buildings. The Sharp Centre for Design is a bold addition to the quiet neighbourhood that is visible from many other downtown locations in Toronto.
The Dancing House – Prague, Czech Republic
The Dancing House is one of the Czech capital’s most recognisable buildings, with its two central pillars said to resemble dancing partners, giving the structure a unique sense of life and movement. This unusual building is the creation of Croatian-Czech architect Vlado Milunić and Canadian-American architect Frank Gehry. With a unique, undulating shape, the building has the nickname ‘Fred and Ginger’, incorporating nine floors above the ground and two floors below. The Dancing House is home to a restaurant, luxury hotel and office spaces. Completed in 1996, the structure is built in the deconstructivist style, an architectural style that places a heavy emphasis on incongruity and lopsided, fragmented and asymmetrical silhouettes.
Atonium – Brussels, Belgium
Designed and created for the 1958 World Fair, which was staged in Brussels, this space-age building is now used to house exhibitions, as well as featuring a hostel for visiting school groups and a restaurant. The shape of this unique conceptual building mimics the anatomic structure of iron, with the nine steel pods of this retro-futuristic structure linked by escalators. Created as a monument to peace, the Atonium is 165 billion times larger than the unit cell of iron crystal on which it is modelled. Created in 1958, the building symbolises the potential capabilities of atomic energies and its use for peaceful purposes in the realms of science.
Lotus Temple – New Delhi, India
Lotus Temple is not only a Baha’I house of worship but also a manifestation of excellence in modern Indian architecture. One of the most frequently visited religious buildings on the planet today, the site covers some 9.7 hectares and is located near Nehru Place in South Delhi. Taking the shape of the lotus, a flower regarded as sacred by most Indians, Lotus Temple is open to individuals of all denominations and is designed to reflect the clarity, freshness and simplicity of the Baha’i faith, serving as a symbol of the unity of mankind and religion. Designed by architect Fariborz Sahba, the temple combines the two fundamental elements of water and light, which have been used to create features in place of the carvings and statues traditionally found in Indian temples.
The Shard – London, United Kingdom
The Shard has dominated the London skyline since its completion in 2013, quickly asserting itself as one of the capital’s most popular attractions thanks to its notoriety as the highest viewpoint in London. Offering stunning panoramic views covering some 40 miles of prime London real estate, The Shard stands 310 metres tall, making it the tallest building in Western Europe. Modelled after a shard of glass, the structure features 11,000 glass panels, with its glass façade totalling 56,000 square metres in surface area – the equivalent of eight football pitches.
Sultan Ahmed Mosque – Istanbul, Turkey
A marvel of classical Ottoman architecture, the Sultan Ahmed Mosque is a UNESCO world heritage site that attracts practising Muslims and tourists alike. Also known as the Blue Mosque, this iconic imperial mosque features distinctive blue tiles on its interior walls. Completed in 1616, the building was commissioned by Sultan Ahmed I. Designed by architect Sedefkâr Mehmed Ağa, Sultan Ahmed Mosque houses Sultan Ahmed I’s tomb, as well as a hospice and a madrasah, or Islamic learning institution. The building combines two distinct architectural styles: Islamic and Byzantine.