Barry Hughes on 'Great Buildings'

Updated 1:27 PM ET, Wed September 26, 2012
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The new Flame Towers in Baku, Azerbaijan, designed by HOK International, were instantly popular, but posed several challenges to their makers. Courtesy HOK
Construction was halted at one point as engineers battled Baku's frequent gale-force winds while also taking into consideration the area's seismic activity. Courtesy HOK
Architect Barry Hughes also wanted to protect Baku's historic architecture, while satisfying his client's brief. "You go, 'I'd really like to not screw this up, because it is really beautiful,' [but] you're trying to do something new and aspirational to represent the future." Courtesy FKH
Beneath the towers is a retail space with a honeycomb roof (as this CGI shows). "A lot of our buildings are pragmatic, developer-led buildings, but we're trying to do something spiritual and sculptural," says Hughes. Courtesy HOK
The building Hughes most wishes he had built is Le Corbusier's Notre Dame du Haut chapel in Ronchamp, France. Courtesy Gabriel Vieille / AONDH
Completed in 1954, Hughes admires its freeform abstraction, and the processional route that visitors must take to get there. Courtesy RPBW
The processional route that visitors take to get there is typical of Corbusier, says Hughes, who was inspired by the Parthenon. Courtesy RPBW
"[Henry David] Thoreau said: 'Man will inevitably fail, so aim high'," Hughes says. "That's true of architecture: if you're not aiming high, you're probably not going to fail, but you're not going to succeed as much as you'd like either." CNN