Seven Strikingly Designed Buildings With Top-Notch Residences Inside

Quality architecture and quality residences have always gone hand in hand. But a new crop of farsighted developments is pushing the aesthetic envelope further than ever. From futuristic projects in the Persian Gulf to an updated London icon to innovative constructions in Holland and Harlem, there has never been a more exciting time for premium property with a decidedly architectural edge. 


Set to open this year, MVRDV’s 807,300-square-foot development offers retail, restaurants, offices, cultural institutes, and 196 apartments, spread across three towers of crazily stacked boxes, the tallest topping out at 330 feet.

The mountain-like building also brings some much-needed green to Amsterdam’s Zuidas financial district, with dense plantings on terraces, bay windows, and balconies by Dutch garden designer Piet Oudolf.

Staircases on the ground level extend publicly accessible space up to the fifth floor. Below the Valley, the Grotto serves as both a living room for residents and grand foyer for visitors.

The Smile—New York

East Harlem has a lot to smile about with this Bjarke Ingels–designed mixed-use development on East 126th Street, featuring a curved facade that allows daylight to reach the street. 

“Like a good neighbor, it fits into the existing neighborhood,” Ingels has said of the 11-story Y-shaped structure, which has a nursing school on the ground floor.

The 233 rental residences, a third of which are reserved for affordable housing, are done in a palette of warm woods with high ceilings, white Quartzline monolithic resin floors, and exposed concrete details. The cantilevered shape allows for a mix of studios and one- and two-bedroom layouts, while the facade’s interlocking checkerboard pattern allows every unit to have floor-to-ceiling windows.

Collective spaces include a fitness center, coworking space, and wet spa and sauna, plus a rooftop movie theater and a plunge pool with three whirlpools.  Rentals start at $2,171/month for studios and $2,580/month for one-bedrooms

Century Plaza—Los Angeles

L.A.’s iconic Century Plaza Hotel is getting two new neighbors: a pair of residential towers designed by Pei Cobb Freed & Partners.

Slated for a summer 2021 opening, the 44-story glass high-rises at 211 Elm and 115 Park include 268 one- to four-bedroom homes, with luxury amenities including a rooftop pool, temperature-controlled wine room, banquet hall, and dog park. 

As part of the $2.5 billion project, San Francisco–based architecture firm Gensler and interior designer Yabu Pushelberg are also giving the hotel a refresh—preserving the vision of original architect Minoru Yamasaki while adding a 14,000-square-foot spa, French brasserie, rooftop bar and other updates. Sixty-three single- and double-story residences have been added as well, with private entry and full access to hotel amenities. 

The massive development is also reenvisioning public areas, including landscaped gardens and park space, street-level retail, and a new entry plaza for the Avenue of the Stars.  Prices start at $2.8 million for Fairmont Century Plaza Hotel Residences and  $1.7 million for 211 Elm. Sales have not commenced for 115 Park.

Royal Atlantis Resort & Residences—Dubai

When it opens at the end of 2021, this 795-room property adjacent to the Palm will soar 43 stories high, with a unique double curvature facade and stepped profile designed by NYC’s Kohn Pedersen Fox.

The Royal Atlantis’s two terraced towers meet in a sky bridge punctuated with pools and lounges that provide stunning views of the Persian Gulf and Dubai skyline.

In the east wing, 231 super-prime residences offer two-, three-, four- and five-bedroom homes, including skypool suites with private pools and landscaped gardens.

Guests and residents have access to 17 bars and restaurants, including world-class fare from celebrity chefs Heston Blumenthal, José Andrés, and Ariana Bundy, and a lobby bar with one of the world’s largest jellyfish tanks.

Between the two resorts, there will be over 90 pools—including an infinity pool suspended 300 feet above the Palm—as well as 1.2 miles of private beach, the largest stretch of accessible private beachfront in Dubai. Pricing for residences begins at $1.9 million.

The OWO Residences—London

A grandiose 1906 neo-Baroque building designed by William Young, Whitehall’s Old War Office served as Winston Churchill’s base of operations during World War II. But after a staggering conversion by Hinduja Group, Accor Hotels and EPR Architects slated to wrap in 2022, this heritage site will be home to 85 residences and a 125-room Raffles hotel conceived by Thierry Despont—the first Raffles expansion in Europe.

Designed by 1508 London, the residences include one- to five-bedroom homes with bespoke Smallbone kitchens featuring integrated Gaggenau and Miele appliances.

A herculean feat of engineering has enabled four additional floors to be constructed below ground level, adding a spa and wellness center, ample parking, and a grand ballroom. Two additional floors on top accommodate new penthouse residences. Sales begin this summer.

Fairmont and Raffles Lusail Hotel and Residences—Doha

Across the globe in Qatar, Accor is partnering with Katara Hospitality on a cobranded Fairmont and Raffles hotel slated to open in time for the Persian Gulf nation to host the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.

Inside the arched towers, designed to represent the traditional scimitars on Qatar’s national seal, a total of 493 rooms and suites will be available for booking, with an additional 49 luxury residences at the “six-star” Raffles.

The first outpost for both brands in the country also offers access to movie theaters, boutique shopping, restaurants, a cigar lounge, and coworking and event spaces. 

“We strongly believe the property we are developing will provide Qatar with an architectural symbol that is known and understood right across the globe,” said Sheikh Nawaf bin Jassim bin Jabor Al Thani, chairman of Katara Hospitality.

“Our vision is to set new standards that go beyond the borders of the hospitality industry and provide a landmark location that is instantly recognized internationally.”

Torre Rosewood at Cidade Matarazzo—São Paulo

Brazil’s Mata Atlântica Tower, a 300-foot vertical forest tower designed by Jean Nouvel with rooms by Philippe Starck, is the Rosewood hotel group’s first foray into South America, with 150 hotel rooms and 122 apartments.

It’s also the centerpiece of Cidade Matarazzo, a seven-acre complex of shops, restaurants and office space housed in the bones of an old maternity hospital in São Paulo’s bohemian Bela Vista neighborhood.

Other highlights include a Rudy Ricciotti–designed office building made to resemble a forest of liana vines; Browns Matarazzo, a “department store of the future” with eco-friendly and locally sourced goods; and the House of Creativity, a cultural center with exhibition space, concert halls, music studio, cinemas, and theaters.

“The whole idea here is…to create something that the whole world will talk about,” developer Alexandre Allard told the Financial Times in 2017.

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