How do you guarantee a view when you are in a valley in Switzerland? Thom Mayne of Morphosis decided to build as high as the mountains —1,250 feet (the exact height of New York’s Empire State Building) for a skinny tower with 107 guest suites in Vals.

Working with developers 7132, who own Therme Vals, the spa designed by Peter Zumthor (1996) and Valser path, a cultural facility by Tadao Ando (to be completed in 2017) nearby, Mayne came up with the audacious concept for the posh resort town. While the Los Angeles-based architect, well-known for his muscular steel and concrete structures, may seem an unlikely choice next to Zumthor's minimally rigorous baths, the tower turns out to be trim and sedate in its shape and wrapping. Mayne says about his design “The incredible setting demands reducing the materiality…so that the connection to the site becomes paramount.” All four sides are clad in glass, helping the architecture dissolve into its natural setting.

Unless you’re on the ground.

Walking among the mountain village's traditional, low buildings, you might think you were Jack stumbling upon the Beanstalk as it soars into the clouds. Yet as you climb the leg of the (shimmery) stalk, you will find a restaurant, bar, and yet another spa. At this point, the building has a fairy tale-like aspect: the developers are awaiting approval from the local authorities for the bold scheme, and a construction start date has not been set.