For the Renaissance Barcelona Fira Hotel, sited near a convention center on the highway to the city's airport, Jean Nouvel took on the challenge of making meaningful architecture out of what Rem Koolhaas famously defined as “junkspace“—the anonymous, generic sprawl that rings cities everywhere.
Program: An 18-story, 570,487-square-foot hotel with 182 rooms, 9 conference rooms, a fitness club, a top-floor restaurant with panoramic views, retail space, and five levels of below-ground parking. Design concept and solution: Rather than design a rectilinear tower, the architects imagined the Vienna Sofitel as an abstract volume of tilting planes of glass. They gave the structure—which is concrete for the building's first five stories and a mix of steel and concrete for the remainder—a trapezoidal footprint. With a mix of gray, black, white, mirrored, and transparent glass, the facade produces a dynamic range of reflections. The five-story base of