As we ring in the New Year, architecture, design and real estate continue to evolve in new ways, with eye-catching new forms.

As the exterior of SFMOMA's $305 million expansion takes place, anticipation is building for its completion over the next year, with people regularly posting updates about the construction on social media.

SFMOMA is Scheduled to Re-Open in Early 2016
The SFMOMA expansion is one of three exciting new projects in San Francisco designed by Norway-based Snøhetta.  The firm is also responsible for the new Warriors San Francisco waterfront stadium, and the modernistic 400-foot tower at 1 Van Ness.

Proposal for the Warriors San Francisco Sports and Entertainment Center
The 300-condo project at 1 Van Ness will be especially important in adding to the new architectural vitality of the area around Hayes Valley, as exemplified by the stunning new 8 Octavia project I wrote about last month.  It will be the the first U.S. tower for Snøhetta, and will make a noticeable impact on the mid-town skyline.

Snohetta's Design for 1 Van Ness
With thee new groundbreaking projects in the pipeline, no wonder the Chronicle's John King calls Snøhetta, "The hottest high-profile architecture firm now at work in San Francisco."

Heller Manus' Design for 350 Bush

I'm also looking forward to seeing the completion of 350 Bush Street, Heller Manus's 19 story glass office tower, which will incorporate the beautiful terra cotta facade and columns of the landmark San Francisco Mining Exchange Building. As I mentioned to, the striking combination of old and new reminds me of the Louvre Pyramid.

Complex at 950-974 Market by Bjarke Ingels Group
Other notable new developments transforming the City include the expansion of the SOMA/South Beach high-rise boom toward the new Mission Bay neighborhood, the just-revealed design of another new Transbay highrise by SOM / Fougeron Architecture and a dramatic Mid-Market hotel/ residential/ retail and performing arts complex by Danish firm Bjarke Ingels Group.

Lightrail to Shoot Beams of Light Down Market Street
Also on Market Street, we'll soon see the use of light as an architectural and urban design element continue with the first ever proposed "Lightrail."  LightRail will extend the energy of The Bay Lights, which has become an indispensable part of San Francisco Bay, into the heart of the City itself by beaming rays of color down Market street whenever a Muni passes underground. It's crazy, colorful, and cool -- everything the world loves about San Francisco!

And speaking of cool...

Spectacular Views from the Salesforce Tower
(Photo: Patricia Chang)
Here is a spectacular new look at the most high-profile project of all, the Transbay Center and Salesforce Tower as well as the incredible construction photos, along with the never-before-seen views from the top of the tower.

Outside of San Francisco, the trend toward ever-higher skyscrapers also continues, extending from Manhattan, with the ongoing boom in the supertall midtown high-rises, all the way to Africa!

The Al Noor Tower in Casablanca

The tallest highrise in Africa is opening soon in Casablanca, and it's full of symbolism. At 114 stories (to reflect the number of chapters in the Koran) and 540 Meters (symbolic of the 54 countries in Africa), its facade has been designed as a pixelated  representation of the continent's 1,000 languages, and features a 30-story atrium in the middle!

Lisa and Richard Perry's Sutton Place Penthouse in NY
We are also seeing dazzling new modern makeovers of historic architectural jewels, such as the redo of the Carnegie Mansion in New York.

In interior spaces, there's an increasing importance of art in design, such as Lisa and Richard Perry's extraordinary Pop Art-filled penthouse. Considering that art auctions in 2014 rose to an astonishing $16 billion, with $653.2 million of it in Andy Warhol sales alone, it's not surprising that people want clean gallery-like spaces to display their new treasures!

Art by Francis Bacon and others at Terry de Gunzburg's NY Apartment
While the trend toward ultra-modern continues to dominate in the architectural and design worlds, the best of today's design often combines classic and contemporary styles, such as Terry de Gunzburg's Art Deco apartment in a classic 1920s Upper East Side midrise, designed by Jacques Grange to showcase the owners' stunning collection of modern and contemporary art by Damien Hirst, Picasso, Francis Bacon, and others.

Pacific Heights Apartment Designed by Dara Rosenfeld
(Photo: Matthew Millman for C Magazine)
Another wonderful renovation of a 1920s building took place in San Francisco, when designer Dara Rosenfeld transformed Stephanie Marver's 1928 Pacific Heights apartment into a chic "fashionista pad" inspired by Chanel, Helena Rubinstein, and Giambattista Valli.

An Olympic Stadium in SF in 2024?
Looking into the future, here's a sneak peek at what the Bay Area 2024 Olympics could possibly look like! But before then, a more likely development is the addition of up to 500 housing units in Laurel Heights, at UCSF's 10-acre campus. With new development so rare in that part of the City, there will be no problem selling condos there!

Reflecting the strong equity markets and domestic economy, the San Francisco median home price hit a new high in the last quarter, up 29% from the year before, and 6 of the 10 most competitive markets in the country are in the Bay Area. Even with 50,000 new residential units in the pipeline, there may still not be to offset the increasing demand.

                          It's Rumored Hakkasan CEO Neil Moffit Paid $50.9 Million for this NY Penthouse
The luxury market around the world soared to new highs in 2014 with record-breaking sales in Manhattan, the highest-ever sales for Los Angeles, and over 50 $10M+ sales for (the relatively affordable!) Bay Area.

A Full Floor of the Pierre Hotel Rents for $500,000 a Month
Meanwhile, residential rents in the major metropolitan areas continue to rise with the improving economy, with San Francisco Bay Area seeing the greatest increase. The highest rental price is in New York, with the recent rental of the 39th floor of the Pierre Hotel in Manhattan for $500,000 per month!

New York prices broke another record, the sale of the iconic 400,000 square Crown Building on New York's Firth Avenue selling for $1.75 billion, or an astounding $4,490 per square foot, the highest price ever paid for a tower.

The Haas Brothers' 2014 "Mini Beasts" Series at FOG Design + Art
It should be another fascinating year as the City continues to evolve into the future, one thing remains certain, it will remain one of the most desirable places on the planet to live as a booming technology, business, cultural and philanthropic center.

The San Francisco Ballet Gala is on January 22nd