Top 5 Buildings of 2015

Words: Bronzella Cleveland

It is that time of year when we reflect on the past 12 months and think about what we've accomplished – or not – and then wonder what the next 12 months will bring. For many of us in the publishing world, December is when we take stock of our work, which in the case of Masonry Design means looking back at the projects we profiled this year.

In 2015, we profiled some amazing buildings from across the nation and around the world. Below we have assembled a short list of our favorite structures – in no particular order. After you check them out, tell us what your favorite masonry structures are. Perhaps we can feature them in the magazine. Send your suggestions to

Grimmwelt Kassel
GRIMM2_5291©JanBitterThe Grimmwelt Kassel museum – a reinforced concrete and natural stone structure (Gauinger Travertin) – at the Weinberg in Kassel, Germany was designed to present the Brothers Grimm’s works. It translates the historical and topographical features of a surrounding park into a continuous open space and invites visitors to explore the exhibitions at their own pace. On display are a multitude of presentations about the Grimm Fairy Tales, the brothers’ biographies, and even personal artifacts from their homes. READ MORE

The Apiary
Apiary -34There’s a new architectural gem in Lexington, Ky., that is getting national attention. The Apiary is a catering company and 15,500-square-foot event space on Jefferson Street in the so-called “Horse Capital of the World’s” emerging restaurant district. While the food and service from Cooper and Mandy Vaughan’s kitchen deserves praise (and it has many times), it is the design of the Apiary’s brick and stone facility that is turning heads from the media including Garden & Gun magazine, Keeneland magazine, and Sophisticated Living magazine. READ MORE

Museum at Prairiefire
MuseumAtPrairiefireDesigned by Verner Johnson Museum Architects & Planners (established in 1978), the $17.3-million Museum at Prairiefire opened in the spring 2014. Its main exterior feature is a wall of colorful dichroic glass that is meant to reflect the imagery of the tallgrass prairie, including one of its most unique aspects: the prairie fire burns. According to Verner Johnson, “The expansive lobby is enclosed by ‘lines of fire,’ facetted vertical planes composed of tinted vision glazing, dichroic glass, and iridescent stainless steel panels, set in a composition invoking flames. The glass and steel are color shifting, depending on the viewing, creating a vibrant animated glow of color around the building.” READ MORE

Rijksarchief in Bruges
Rijksarchief 2In the center of Bruges, among the medieval churches, old-world homes, and Brick Gothic structures, sits a modern, new building that wouldn’t look out of place in any major European or American metropolis. Yet this building – known as the Rijksarchief – blends beautifully with its surroundings and is changing attitudes toward new construction in Bruges. The $17-million project consists of a newly built public library with a reading room at street level, as well as the restored convent, which is being used as office space. Both structures are connected via a glass-enclosed bridge that provides breathtaking views of a new courtyard (public space), the canal that flows past the Rijksarchief, and the nearby, famed towers of Bruges. READ MORE

Waltham Watch Factory
Watch,  Bruner Cott, arch.For nearly a century, throngs of area residents of Waltham, Mass., made their way to work in the iconic 1854 factory of the Waltham Watch Company along the Charles River. The first enterprise to produce watches on an assembly line, the company operated in its expansive, 405,000-square-foot facility until 1949, after which a few light industrial and office tenants occupied the buildings. Today, the factory is enjoying a second life, thriving once again through a mixed-use renaissance by Bruner/Cott and Associates (Cambridge, Mass.) that provides innovative living and working spaces in its restored and renovated buildings. READ MORE

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