Instead of stacking four floors atop one another, architectural firm Rafael Vinoly created this long, slithering, curvaceous research building for UCSF, snaking its way down a hillside atop earthquake-resistant stilts. A green roof up top only heightens the structure's looks.

The research center accommodates vast meeting, lab, and office space, in one long sloping corridor. The site is sort of in a pinch—straddling a narrow stretch between roadway and existing buildings—so it's a brilliant use of space, and looks like it would be an ultra-modern delight to work in. [DesignBoom]