When it opened in 2006 overlooking Boston Harbor, the Institute of Contemporary Art was the city's first new museum in 100 years.
What do the Grand Canyon Skywalk, Dubai’s Burj Khalifa skyscraper and Mexico City’s Museo Soumaya have in common? All opened in the last five years and surged to the top of Travel + Leisure’s first landmarks survey — proving that some structures are instant classics.
Travel + Leisure readers participated by ranking 60 landmarks, among them skyscrapers, sports venues, museums and parks (see our complete methodology). The resulting list of top-ranked venues, all opened within the last 15 years, is your cheat-sheet to the latest generation of groundbreaking architecture — the kinds of landmarks that inspire you to travel and see them in person.
Not surprisingly, many winners come from the art world. “Architecture is another layer of the museum experience,” notes Jim Childress, a member of the American Institute of Architects’ Committee on Design. It’s about building something that celebrates a local neighborhood or community, he says.
Case in point: Boston’s Institute of Contemporary Art (No. 14), which is revitalizing the waterfront area with its steel-and-glass design and modern art collection. Other examples include San Francisco’s copper-clad De Young Museum (No. 18), designed by Herzog and de Meuron, and the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Texas (No. 11), which will display Lucian Freud’s paintings in a highly anticipated summer 2012 exhibition.
Acrophobes, hold on tight! Besides the 2,717-foot Burj and New York’s towering 8 Spruce Street, five other soaring structures appear on our list. Can you guess No. 13, which, at 1,132 feet, is the world’s highest bridge? (Hint: it’s even taller than the Eiffel Tower, yet located in the same country).
Any skeptics of the sky-high should reserve judgment. “A lot of tall buildings that we hold dear — such as the Empire State Building — were ridiculed when they were built,” says Bill Worthen, AIA’s director and resource architect for sustainability. “However, these buildings crept into our hearts, and now we try to even emulate them.”
So which landmark captured enough readers’ hearts to take the No. 1 ranking? New York’s September 11 Memorial, which has received more than 1.2 million visitors from more than 120 different countries since opening in 2011.
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