The 2020 Legend Awards are meant to serve as inspiration for future travel—when it is safe to do so. Learn more about this year's awards on our methodology page.
This year, our Legend Awards honorees for most stunning buildings set the gold-standard for global architecture. By creating from found materials, bypassing traditional tenets of architecture, or achieving carbon neutrality, these buildings are making undeniable aesthetic and sustainable strides in their area. The biggest names in architecture are constantly pushing the boundaries of innovation, and these structures are the proof.
The following buildings are larger-than-life works of art. They are feats of culture, not to mention feats of gravity. Some of our favorite hotels live within these artistically ambitious walls, whether the building was constructed for the new hotel, or inhabited and restored by the hotel.
If you have ever looked at a piece of art, listened to a recording, or seen a display of fashion that you knew right away was destined to become iconic, you understand how we feel about these buildings. Most have only gone up in the last year, and already, they have redefined the skylines of their city, or the hospitality offerings of their region.
From Doha to Bolivia, these are the most stunning buildings of the 2020 Legend Awards.
Arctic Bath, Sweden
Arctic Bath in Harads, Sweden, which opened in January 2020, features an unique design inspired by log jams along the Lule River. Designed by the same architects that created Treehouse, Bertil Harström and Johan Kauppi, the hotel features just 12 suites, six of which float on, and in the winter months freeze into, the Lule River.
Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia at Comcast Center
Opened in October 2019, the Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia at Comcast Center was designed by Lord Norman Foster of Foster + Partners. The building is now the tallest in the city and features an award-winning restaurant by Jean-Georges Vongerichten on the 59th floor.
ME Dubai opened in February 2020 in the Burj Khalifa District. The first building in Dubai designed by Zaha Hadid, the structure is deliberately new-age to almost a futuristic extent. The hotel is held within the Opus and each room or suite has either a “midnight or desert color scheme.”
TWA Hotel, New York City
TWA Hotel opened as a 60s-chic hotel May 2019 in the old TWA Flight Center, which was designed by Eero Saarinen and originally opened in 1962. The list of our favorite design elements here is pages long, but the view of JFK from the rooftop infinity pool takes the cake.
National Museum of Qatar, Doha
The National Museum of Qatar is the new marval of Doha, featuring multiple exhibition wings, a 220-seat auditorium, and even a rooftop terrace. Designed by Architect Jean Nouvel, the structure is meant to appear reminiscent of a desert rose, as seen by the museum’s “curved disks, intersections, and cantilevered angles.”
The Rosewood Bangkok took the city’s skyline by storm in 2019. The hotel building, designed by executive architect Tandem Architects and Kohn Peterson Fox, is inspired by the wai, a traditional greeting in Thailand. The mod, vibrantly artistic interior design was led by Celia Chu Design Associates.
The Vessel, New York City
Within the now-iconic Hudson Yards, The Vessel, designed by Thomas Heatherwick, is made up of 154 interconnected flights of stairs. Visitors can climb The Vessel, taking in the views of NYC from various elevations and vantage points.
Ruby City, San Antonio
San Antonio welcomed Sir David Adjaye’s Ruby City in October 2019. The art museum is the architect’s first building in Texas. Museum founder Linda Pace found inspiration for the building in a dream and commissioned Adjaye to bring it to life. The red color of the building, from her original dream, is derived from red glass, volcanic rock, and other natural materials.
V&A Dundee, Scotland
The stunning V&A Dundee design museum was done by architect Kengo Kuma & Associates, and recently made a memorable cameo in season two of HBO’s Succession. Each of the building’s external walls is curved to create the impression of a Scottish Cliff.
Located on the southern coast of Norway, Under is the first underwater restaurant in Europe. The building was designed by Snøhetta to seamlessly fuse with the rough seascape and is submerged five and a half meters under the water. The concrete exterior of the building is constructed for strength and will eventually become an artificial reef as marine life settles onto the surface.
The Shed, New York City
The Shed, a center for arts in Hudson Yards, was designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro and opened in 2019. The base building is eight stories tall and is encapsulated in an exterior shell that can expand and contract, allowing The Shed to host both completely indoor and open-air events.
Muzeum Susch, Switzerland
The Muzeum Susch, nestled into the Swiss Alps, is a 12th-century monastery turned art museum designed by Chasper Schmidlin and Lukas Voellmy. The architects restored historic buildings and excavated into the mountains to create gallery spaces that highlight the mountainous glory of the Alps.
Hotel Arts Barcelona, Spain
This iconic Bruce Graham-designed building is one of our favorite architectural feats in Barcelona. The Hotel Arts Barcelona features a contemporary design with large glass windows and most notably, the steel support snaking up the exterior of the building.
The newly completed Mjøstårnet is now the world’s tallest cross-laminated timber tower. Located in Brumunddal, Norway about 80 miles north of Oslo, the 18-story building designed by Voll Arkitekter features a sensational rooftop terrace, offices, and a hotel.
The Twist Museum, Norway
Norway’s The Twist Museum, completed in September 2019, was designed by Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG). The Twist consists of three art galleries and stretches across the Randselva, twisting in the center and yielding stunning views of the river.
Aurora Melbourne Central, Australia
In Melbourne’s Central Business District (CBD), Aurora Melbourne Central was designed by Elenberg Fraser. It’s the tallest mixed-use building in the city, home to office spaces, restaurants, and residences with amenities like a pool, sundeck, and movie theatre.
Kachi Lodge, Bolivia
Located in Bolivia’s Uyuni Salt Flats, the Kachi Lodge opened in May 2019. The lodge, designed and built by Amazing Escapes Switzerland, is comprised of seven dome-like structures, each with expansive windows offering incredible views of the flats. The entire lodge sits on wooden pillars, and of course, Kachi ensured there was no drilling to the salt flats during construction.