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The 10 Biggest Starchitecture News Stories of 2015

No year is complete without some wild stuff from the world's most famous architects. In 2015, the biggest starchitect stories were in fact sagas that unfolded throughout the year with much drama and intrigue. There was Zaha Hadid and the controversial Tokyo Olympics stadium, Santiago Calatrava defending his oft-stalled World Trade Center transit hub, Jean Nouvel boycotting the opening of his Philharmonie de Paris, and so on. Without further ado, here's a recap of key starchitecture buzz from the last year.

1. Japan ditches Zaha's Tokyo Olympics stadium design

After years of public criticism (including fervent pushback from leading Japanese architects) and forecasted cost overruns, the Japanese government finally announced in July that it will cancel plans to build Hadid's centerpiece stadium design (pictured above) and start from scratch. Earlier this month, Japanese architect Kengo Kuma's wood-and-steel scheme was announced as the winning replacement design, and Hadid is not pleased.

2. Calatrava fights bad press & the World Trade Center Transit Hub Oculus nears completion

Santiago Calatrava's fantastical winged Oculus transit hub at the World Trade Center site has been 10 years and $4 billion in the making, an ordeal that has apparently resulted in the Spanish architect being "treated like a dog." According to Calatrava, the project's high-profile cost overruns are a "global problem" and he's suffering for trying to "do something extraordinary for the community." But things may be looking up, finally. Though the main concourse is projected to debut in March 2016, a few platforms have already opened to the public this year and just, wow.

3. Shortlist for Obama Presidential Library architect includes David Adjaye, Snøhetta, and more

Speculation has been high the entire year about where and who will be involved in the Obama Presidential Library. A multi-city competition and plenty of local controversy later, Chicago's South Side emerged as the winning locale for the project. And earlier this month, the Barack Obama Foundation finally revealed the list of seven finalists who will be submitting design proposals early next year. They are: David Adjaye, Renzo Piano, John Ronan, Snøhetta, Tod Williams Billie Tsien, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, and SHoP Architects.

4. Bjarke Ingels unveils designs for 2 World Trade Center Tower and a futuristic Googleplex

The first half of 2015 was big for Bjarke, as the Danish hotshot architect unleashed two major designs. First up, there was the massive modular, robot-assisted Google headquarters in Silicon Valley, a vision that will be thwarted by a land-use loss to LinkedIn. Over on the East Coast, though, Ingels is poised to leave a mark on the New York City skyline with his design for the final World Trade Center tower, essentially a stack of glass boxes with cascading green terraces.

5.The Frank Gehry-designed Facebook HQ arrives

A photo posted by Ashley (@ashleymilardo) on

In March, Facebook officially opened its brand-new Frank Gehry-designed headquarters in Menlo Park, California. The 430,000-square-foot complex, featuring the largest open floor plan in the world, has a nine-acre rooftop garden, ball pits, awesome views, so much color...and we've got the 'grams to prove it.

6. Renzo Piano and Diller Scofidio + Renfro design new art museums

The museum gods blessed the U.S. with two spectacular new art museums in 2015, each boasting a big-name architect. In New York City, Renzo Piano's new Whitney Museum offers expansive indoor and outdoor spaces, plus a stunning cityscape backdrop. And over in Los Angeles, DS+R shows off a totally Instagram-ready Broad Museum.

7. Controversy continues over Heatherwick's "Garden Bridge"

It's been an endless will it or won't it with Thomas Heatherwick's fanciful "Garden Bridge," proposed for London's River Thames. Several years in the making, the flora-filled pedestrian bridge plan was critically bashed, then approved by the city council and mayor, and then stalled by judicial review. More recently, the scheme has apparently lost key political support, though Heatherwick just talked enthusiastically about the status of the project to Wallpaper. Stay...tuned...

8. Jean Nouvel Disowns His Philharmonie de Paris

When the shiny new $455M Philharmonie de Paris finally opened after eight years of construction, its architect, Jean Nouvel, wanted nothing to do with it, alleging that the structure was "not finished" and had not gone through proper acoustics tests. Nouvel boycotted the venue's opening and then filed a lawsuit demanding his name and image be removed from all references to the institution (he ended up losing that one.)

9. Rem Koolhaas' gold-crowned Fondazione Prada opens in Milan

Milan adds a new design destination with Fondazione Prada, an arts and culture complex designed by Koolhaas' firm Office for Metropolitan Architecture. Comprising seven former distillery buildings and three new structures, the institution also comes with a super rad bar designed by visionary film director Wes Anderson.

10. Herzog & de Meuron debuts a stunning soccer stadium

The prominent Swiss firm behind Beijing's striking Bird's Nest Olympic stadium managed to pull off an extremely elegant soccer stadium in Bordeaux, France. Completed earlier this year, the column-infused design has even gotten one CityLab writer wondering: Why can't American stadiums be beautiful?

What did we miss? Feel free to sound off in the comments.

Architecture in 2015, A Year in Review: The Good, The Bad, and the Potato Chips [Curbed]
All Year in Curbed 2015 posts [Curbed]