Private school tuition aside, urban life can be livable. These recent architectural wonders accommodate density in style
8 Spruce Street
City: New YorkArchitect: Frank GheryYear completed: 2011Accommodating the masses: At 76 stories, the Western Hemisphere's tallest residential building has 903 units. The structure, with its rippled steel facade, also has a six-floor base occupied by a public school and a hospital.
Parc de la Villette
City: ParisArchitect: Bernard TschumiYear completed: 1998Accommodating the masses: The 125-acre urban park, which took 15 years to finish, currently sees around 8 million visitors annually. The design was based on modern-day culture rather than nature.
Seattle Central Library
City: SeattleArchitect: Rem KoolhaasYear completed: 2004Accommodating the masses: The library saw 2.8 million visitors its first year. It has a four- story "Books Spiral" that doesn't break up the Dewey Decimal.
UFA Cinema Center
City: DresdenArchitect: COOP Himmelb(l)auYear completed: 1998 Accommodating the masses: The sprawling complex, which houses eight large movie theaters with a total of 2,600 seats, doubles as a glass-enclosed public square featuring views of the historic German city.
Madrid-Barajas Airport NAT
City: MadridArchitects: Richard Rogers and Estudio LamelaYear completed: 2006Accommodating the masses: In 2010, 49.9 million passengers came through Madrid-Barajas, one of the largest buildings in Europe.