Bold Buildings - A Sampling Of Big, Bright And Memorable Designs

Jeff_AlexanderBy Jeff Alexander, Valspar Corporation

It’s the buildings that make you stop and stare. The places that you’ve always wanted to go inside. The structures that you’ll drive the distance to see. Those are the ones that make a difference and leave a mark on your heart. Sometimes it’s hard to pin down exactly what makes a building so unforgettable. It could be a tiny nuanced detail or an extravagant and bold design choice – either way, it’s the unique architecture that always stands out.

It takes patience, balance and the ability to look at a project from all angles to create such buildings. If a design team attempts to do too much, the look can flop. The same for too little. An abstract artist doesn’t always know when a piece is complete, but they can see when they’ve gone too far – and so can the public. An architect’s fearlessness in designing complex and unconventional structures is admirable and rewarded when successful, but must also be matched with first-class building materials to fabricate the vision.

Bold structures can rule a skyline, campus, small town and even a park. Here are a few that made an impression on us.

Shown above is the Ryerson University Student Learning Center. The deep color of the soffit was provided by Valspar’s Valflon® exterior architectural coating which is laid atop ALPOLIC metal wall panels. Custom mixed for this project, the glittering Prismatic Blue complements the complex system of triple glazed glass panes, revealing a graphic across the surface. Passersby are left mesmerized by the unique visual of the SLC. Photo courtesy of ALPOLIC.
To see and read more on this project, click here.
Shown above is The Gillmor Center. A strong and uniformed façade plated with CENTRIA Formawall® Dimension Series® insulated metal wall panels finished in a sharp Platinum shade of Valspar’s Fluropon® Classic II exterior architectural coating gives the Gillmor Center an edge to its scholastic aesthetic. The structure embodies the prestige of academia, while tipping its hat to open-mindedness and creativity. Photo courtesy of CENTRIA.
To see and read more on this project, click here.
Among the materials utilized for the design of the Writer's Theater is 6,200 square-feet of PAC-CLAD materials from Petersen, featuring Midnight Bronze and Stone White shades of Valspar’s Fluropon® exterior architectural coating. Photo by Steve Hall © Hedrich Blessing.  

Diamond in the Rough

In regard to buildings that leave an impression, the Ryerson University Student Learning Center (SLC) in Toronto, Ontario is a design to be reckoned with. The SLC, designed by Snøhetta of Oslo, Norway and New York City, is eight-stories and more than 155,430 square-feet, but mere size is not what sets the structure apart. Textured glass siding paired with rich blue and subtle cream accents on the unique entrance are both eye-catching and inviting. Starting on the building’s façade, the extraordinary soffit then transitions into the lobby, contrasting delicately with natural-toned beams.

Class & Creativity

While a wildcard design can stand out and be unexpected, it is not always timeless. Discovering the sweet spot between unique and kitschy can take a building to a new level of intrigue. The Gillmor Center at Mission College in Santa Clara, Calif. is a reputable example of this, and architects with Lionakis Architects hit it out of the park with their design for the academic building. The Gillmor Center has a distinguished entrance which morphs into a wavelike body – without sacrificing the sleek precision of the structure’s ever-present right angles.

Spotlight on the Extraordinary

Buildings often have a way of symbolizing that which is within, and one can envision the values of the artists who play the Writers Theater in Glencoe, Ill. For starters, it is unconventional that a theater is constructed of full length windows. The Writers Theater approaches its art from a different angle than most theaters, using leveled stages and open venues. Engaging the public and allowing them to feel part of the portrayal creates a more intimate setting and makes productions a personal experience to be shared with the audience.

Designers from Studio Gang Architects incorporated a strategic medley of building materials including wood, concrete and metal. The diverse materials created the fantastic, yet minimalistic façade. The open and welcoming structure brings an air of modernity to the quaint town, inviting curious patrons intrigued by the awe-inspiring architecture – in addition to guests traveling from all over the country to enjoy the many nationally-praised performances facilitated at Writers Theater.

A bold and impressive structure does not always have to be 30-stories tall or illuminated by thousands of neon lights. Sometimes all it takes is the right materials, the perfect location and a balanced design to wow visitors and spectators.

Jeff Alexander has been with Valspar for 19 years and currently serves as the Vice President of Sales for the company's Coil and Extrusion Businesses. He is also a past president of the National Coil Coating Association. To learn more about Valspar products, visit

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