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Though much of the architectural world focused on massive undertakings at the Summer Olympics, Beijing didn't have a monopoly on the creative buildings of 2008. Of the many structures that graced Cool Hunting's bandwidth this year, a handful stood out from the pack.

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Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center
Recently opened at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY, the EMPAC fuses the best aspects of the arts, science and technology. The building—which features a theater, concert hall and audio/video production studios—is meant to foster creative pursuits among artists, visiting scholars, researchers, engineers and designers. Designed by the British firm, Grimshaw, the EMPAC's eye-catching exterior and curved-cedar core are a sight to behold.

Image via deebee | photography.

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East Beach Cafe
British designer Thomas Heatherwick took a site-specific approach with this beachside eatery. Looking more like oversized flotsam than a business, the East Beach Cafe has made a a serious tourist destination out of the sleepy English town of Littlehampton.

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Kraanspoor
Taking the concept of adaptive reuse to new heights, Dutch architect Trude Hooykaas used an old dock to create a modern office building. The cantilevered glass exterior both allow occupants to regulate temperatures and reduces heating and cooling costs.

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Portland's Clinton Condominiums
Situated in a tony corner of Southeast Portland, the Clinton Condominiums take the place of a former industrial building. The building's minimal interiors combine attractive design with eco-consciousness in a way that's right at home in the Pacific Northwest.

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Abilmo Pop-Up Hotel Rooms
Though they measure a paltry 130 square feet, these mobile hotel rooms include everything necessary for a night's stay, from bed to bathroom facilities. Heavily insulated for both temperature and noise, the Abilmo rooms can make almost any environment habitable.

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