We don’t usually see it, but when historic architecture and modern architecture come together, the results can be very surprising.
City skylines are defined by all types of architecture, both contemporary and classic, it has an impact on our perceived memory of a place. While historic architecture has its own charm, modern architecture has the ability to be inspiring. Examples abound, including almost any building designed by figures such as Zaha Hadid, Rem Koolhaas, Santiago Calatrava, and Frank Gehry, among others. Their buildings’ designs, much like a force of nature, have the ability to transform any neighborhood. When architects decide, that instead of building around or in place of historic structures, to build in or atop the original foundations, magic happens.
When these two worlds of old and new come together, the result can be amazing and unbelievable. With this list, you will see the best examples of when modern and historic architecture come together to produce something better than the sum of their parts.
Museum of Military History (Dresden, Germany)
Built originally as an armory in 1876, the structure officially became a museum in 1897. By 1989, however, the German government decided to close the public structure due to its uncertainty as to how it wanted history to remember its military positions. The space reopened in 2011, with anew internal and external concept executed by Daniel Libeskind. His vision added a modern facade, which juts out from an otherwise traditional neoclassical building. The museum focuses on the human aspects of war, while also showcasing the evolution of German military technology.
Brooklyn Museum (New York City)
With roughly 1.5 million works, the Brooklyn Museum houses New York’s second largest art collection. Completed in 1895, the Beaux-Arts building was designed by McKim, Mead and White. In 2004, a beautiful $63 million glass entrance was added to greet visitors. Designed by Ennead Architects, the 15,000-square-foot pavilion provides a striking juxtaposition to the more traditional backdrop of the museum façade.
Kunstmuseum Moritzburg (Halle, Germany)
Situated in central Germany, the Kunstmuseum Moritzburg originally started as a castle built in the late 15th century. Designed in the Early Renaissance style of architecture, the structure was eventually converted into a castle at the end of the 19th century. More than a century later, a museum renovation included the addition of a sleek modern building. The modern addition was designed by Fuensanta Nieto and Enrique Sobejano.
City of Fashion and Design (Paris)
Paris’s City of Fashion and Design is located along the banks of the Seine River. Designed by local firm Jakob + MacFarlane, the structure was built within old general stores. What used to be a site that lacked a discernible character is now instantly recognizable by the ultracontemporary, bright-green structure on its exterior.
St. Antony’s College (Oxford, England)
This ultramodern structure within the campus of the oldest university in the United Kingdom is the creation of the top architect Zaha Hadid. She built this stainless-steel façade that bridges buildings within Oxford’s Middle East Centre, a department that studies the humanities and social sciences in the modern Arab world.
Port Authority (Antwerp, Belgium)
Another exclusive design by the inimitable mind of Zaha Hadid, Antwerp’s Port Authority building is quite literally like no other building on the planet. When completed in 2016, the renovation and extension took a once-derelict fire station and transformed it into a new headquarters for the port. The design of the building incorporates the use of a fire station, integrating it into the building. Attached above and connected to the fire station is a contemporary diamond-shaped structure marked by straight edges, with an additional column providing support from the floor. Today, the new structure houses the port’s 500 staffers, all of whom previously worked in separate buildings around the city.
Elbphilharmonie Hamburg (Hamburg, Germany)
The Elbphilharmonie Hamburg was considered by many to be the most exciting venue to hold a concert in the world. The Herzog & de Meuron–designed structure sits atop an old warehouse that was built in 1963, and in a short span of time has already become the most internationally recognizable building in the city.
Royal Ontario Museum (Toronto)
The Royal Ontario Museum has a rich past that can be studied by the building’s architecture. It was first built in 1914 in a neo-Romanesque style, only to be later renovated in an Art Deco-inspired form. By 2007, Daniel Libeskind added a multimillion-dollar extension made primarily of glass, aluminum, and steel. It is one of the largest museums in North America and the largest in Canada. It attracts more than one million visitors every year, making the ROM the most-visited museum in Canada.