Buildings that Inspire Us!

At a recent Living Lab, the STA team shared buildings and spaces that inspire us – here are some of our favorites!



Architect: Glenn Murcutt.


“Glenn Murcutt’s work is inspiring because of its depth.  His buildings exemplify a deep understanding of their site, both culturally and environmentally, and yet they are extremely functional and practical designs.  The houses he designs are built like sailboats in the way that you must work them by opening and closing screens, and paying attention to the winds and temperature changes.  The do not pretend to have a style, although one seems to have developed only in the way that each particular detail is thought out and recognized for its importance to the whole.”




Building: Cambridge Public Library

Architect: William Rawn Associates


“This addition to the existing main branch of the Cambridge Public Library is a great example of architecture and design creating community. Having grown up in Cambridge, I’ve had a personal connection to the library my whole life, and still today I visit it often with my Mom. Every time I go, I am amazed at how many people are using and enjoying the library. The light filled spaces accented with wood and rich red are warm and welcoming, and always full of people of all ages, using the library for reading, meeting, collaborating, and relaxing. The success of this project has made the library a relevant and vibrant party of the community.”




Building: SESC Pompeia

Architect: Lina Bo Bardi [1946-1992]

Location: Sao Paulo, SP Brazil

Year of construction: 1986

Raw Juxtaposition

The rawness of Lina Bo Bardi’s SESC Pompeia is astonishing. Perhaps as an ode to Sao Paulo’s nickname, Concrete Jungle, SESC Pompeia was erected as three concrete volumes that complemented a complex of brick buildings [former drum factories]. The simple palette of brick and concrete is tied by punches of bright red. The linearity of brick is reproduced in the board-formed concrete. However, the old factories’ rectangular organization is challenged by the criss-cross layout of floating pathways that connect two new prismatic buildings.




Building: MASS MoCA

Architect: Bruner Cott


MASS MoCA is a great example of getting the “right” balance between art and architecture. The architect has carefully and thoughtfully restored these buildings in a way that captures the industrial past as the perfect background for large scale contemporary art. The experience of the art is enhanced by the architectural background and the architecture is better appreciated because of the way the art is integrated into these spaces. If you haven’t been I highly suggest the trip!




Building: The Reichstag

Architect: Norman Foster

“The old is remembered.  The new is celebrated.”





Architect: Herzog & de Meuron


“The Elbphilharmonie, Hamburg’s newest cultural and architectural landmark, recently opened in January of this year. The building houses 3 concert halls, a hotel, 45 private apartments, and the Plaza which is a 360 degrees public viewing plaza. For me, the most stunning part of the building is the main concert hall because of the organically curving seating tiers, ceiling and overall expressive structure. “




Building: California Academy Of Science

Architect: Renzo Piano


“A cultural and scientific institution that provides a balanced coexistence of outreach activities and research.

An ecosystem that hosts and educates both permanent and temporary inhabitants in harmony.”




Building: Colosseum built in 70-80AD for Titus Vespasian

Amphitheatre in Rome, Italy


I find this building to be inspirational because of its enduring nature and when standing inside, it feels as though there are past events still happening. The grandeur of the building, not just for its size and shape, but also for its historical embodiment is awe-inspiring.




Architect: Antonio Gaudi

“His integration of architecture and interior design, and his use of fluid “melted” forms which is reminiscent of the work of Salvatore Dali”




The Duck-Shaped Building brings me back to my lessons of architectural theory through the eyes of Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown — are my buildings going to be ducks or are they going to be decorated sheds? Ducks, named after this duck-shaped roadside building in Eastern Long Island (originally used to sell ducks and eggs), are buildings that can’t be anything but the symbols they are, as their shapes foretell the activity taking place inside. Whereas, Decorated Sheds are generic structures that require signage to be identified. If you remove the sign, can it be something else? These questions have always fascinated me.




Building: Sanctuary of Our Lady of Carmen in Bogota.

Architect: Giovanni Buscaglione, Italian Salesian Brother

Type: Gothic Architecture with Byzantine and Arabic touches

Built in 1926


Religious temples have always been the best examples of extraordinary architecture. This one in particular inspires me because of it’s human scale details. Even though the building is massive in size, the architectural details are miniscule. I like the balanced proportion of small size mosaics vs. the oversize arches and swirling columns.