While editors at ARCHITECT don't play favorites, each of us would admit to feeling a connection with a special few of the projects that pass by our desks each year. And because the editors spend a lot of time at those desks, they see an awful lot of projects (albeit not usually in person). That makes the following favorites—editors' picks for the best buildings, designs, and pavilions from 2013—some of the best of the year. In our humble opinion.

In no particular order:

Roberto Garza Sada Center for the Arts, Architecture, and Design, designed by Tadao Ando Architect & Associates, Monterrey, Mexico

Edmund Sumner

Proof that an old master can learn new tricks, Ando adds a twist to his famously spare formal vocabulary by carving a torqued five-story void into the boxy concrete volume of the Roberto Garza Sada Center. —Ned Cramer

EcoHawks Research Facility, designed by Studio 804 (Lawrence, Kan.)

This research facility at the University of Kansas is a beautifully crafted pavilion, made all the more laudable by the fact that it was crafted entirely by the students of Dan Rockhill-led Studio 804. With construction starting in a brutal December on the Plains, students were hand-weaving aluminum strips in sub-zero temperatures, and wrangling light-reactive aerogel shades to craft a result would make any professional proud. —Katie Gerfen

Contemporary Art Center, designed by Nieto Sobejano (Córdoba, Spain)

Roland Halbe

Nieto Sobejano continues to design buildings that connect with their site in more ways than one. Even better than our Detail article is this video on how the art center embodies its objective, capitalizing beautifully on its setting on the Guadalquivir River (sit tight until 00:00:40). Or this dancethrough—yes, dancethrough—of the volumes and shadows created with the naked, concrete building form. —Wanda Lau

Department of Islamic Art, the Louvre, designed by Mario Bellini and Rudy Ricciotti (Paris)

Antoine Mongodin

As a sculptural pavilion, the undulating metal-mesh roof for this expansion transforms the Louvre's 18th-century courtyard space into a new gallery for Islamic art. It was bold of Bellini and Ricciotti to court comparisons to Norman Foster, whose Great Court at the British Museum or Kogod Courtyard at the National Portrait Gallery (in Washington, D.C.) instantly flash to mind; the Louvre courtyard roof is a similar but less imperious form. Seen from an aerial view, it's a playful form, rolling almost like dunes. Seen from the interior, it appears to provide an intimate space for viewing artifacts. —Kriston Capps

72 Screens, designed by Sanjay Puri Architects (Jaipur, India)

Sanjay Puri Architects

The façade on this office building by Sanjay Puri Architects in Jaipur, India, reinterprets traditional jalis screens in a series of 72 angular glass-reinforced concrete panels that shade the structure’s interior. On sunny days, the geometric lattices reflect patterns of shade and sunlight inside the building, bridging the often-rigid gap between structured and natural environments. At night, LEDs behind the facade call out the panels’ three-dimensional geometry. —Hallie Busta

Lazika Pier Sculpture, designed by J. Mayer H. Architects (Lazika, Georgia)

Marcus Buck

To play fast and loose with the rules, this pier sculpture by Jürgen Mayer H. in Lazkia, Georgia, was completed in 2012, but since ARCHITECT covered J. Mayer H. Architects' work in Georgia in 2013, it still makes my list. Part sculpture, part pavilion, part House of Cards, this form manages somehow to be both elegant and 8-bit: It reminds me both of fluid and motion, and a cloudlike castle for Princess Peach from Nintendo’s Super Mario Brothers. —Katie Gerfen

Danish National Maritime Museum, designed by Bjarke Ingels Group (Helsingor, Denmark)

Rasmus Hjortshøj

BIG has travelled far on good-looking renderings, witty Keynote presentations, and a pervy URL. It’s nice to see the hype justified with a completed project that is both restrained and inventive. —Ned Cramer

Research Pavilion, designed by the Institute for Computational Design and the Institute of Building Structures and Structural Design (Stuttgart, Germany)

Stuttgart University

Affectionately known around my office as the Robot Lobster Pavilion, this experimental pavilion was fabricated by robots programmed by students from two institutes in a collaborative exercise. The design was modeled after the chitinous structure of a lobster's exoskeletal cuticle. —Kriston Capps

Halley VI Research Station, designed by Hugh Broughton Architects (Antarctica)


With little design precedent, Hugh Broughton Architects overcame the challenge of designing and constructing a structure in arguably the toughest environment on earth—a floating ice shelf 900 miles from the South Pole—that will not drive its isolated occupants mad à la The Shining. And the firm managed to create futuristic, functional forms that look good even when covered in freezer burn. —Wanda Lau

Lucid Stead, designed by Phillip K. Smith III (Joshua Tree, Calif.)

Steve King

In an age when everyone is talking about the importance of site-specific design, there are few pavilions that answer that charge better than the Lucid Stead by artist Phillip K. Smith III. The picturesque wooden cabin in clad in strips of mirror that reflect the desert surroundings, creating an optical illusion that makes the humble structure seem to disappear. —Katie Gerfen

Cultural Center, designed by Mateo Architectura (Devesa, Portugal)

Adrià Goula

For most of my life, a (small) backyard ice rink was a fact of winter. That usually beat the crowded, temporary installations plopped down in city parks. But the rink at the Cultural Center in Devesa, Portugal, by architect Josep Lluis Mateo is something else. I haven’t checked out the project in person, but the photos and drawings suggest an interactive space both protected by the structure’s deep cantilever and connecting it to the adjacent plaza. The rink is just one of the structure’s many well-executed features, though I’m not sure this one can accommodate our raucous, sibling vs. sibling hockey games. —Hallie Busta

Terminal 3, Shenzhen Bao'an International Airport, designed by Massimiliano Fuksas Architect (Shenzhen, China)

Leonardo Finotti

Fuksas, a high-tech wizard with a surrealist bent, has strangely been overlooked in the United States. If his curvaceously pixilated new Terminal 3 in Shenzhen, China, doesn’t garner the attention this Roman architect deserves, nothing will. —Ned Cramer

Basel Convention Center, designed by Herzog & de Meuron (Basel, Switzerland)

Iwan Baan

For many business travelers, the only site they see in their destination city is the convention center: so why shouldn’t it be a good one? In Basel, Switzerland, Herzog & de Meuron have worked their material magic again, with a metal cladding that mimics expanded fabric mesh, and an oculus that will leave many a badge-wearing attendee dizzy. But the inside is beautiful,too: minimal black exposed ductwork and striking stairs make this convention center one I hope to visit. —Katie Gerfen