Nordea Bank, Strandgade 3, Copenhagen - a series of office buildings designed by Henning Larsen Architects and completed about 2000 and part of a major redevelopment on the site of ship yards. Taking a pattern from warehouses along the harbour, they are relatively narrow but high blocks with their narrow ends towards the water but with flat rather than pitched and tiled roofs. They look quite elegant but slightly severe during the day but that is softened by excellent landscaping and in the late afternoon and evening, with the offices lit, their real elegance and sophistication are revealed. It is then that you can appreciate how the blocks fan out slightly creating slightly different angles of view as you walk along the quay.
A gross generalisation I know, but historic buildings in traditional materials are usually best seen during the day because that is when you can appreciate ornate decoration or amazing stone work or complicated brickwork or a beautiful landscape setting of trees and planting. At night those same buildings become much simpler solids and details are flattened and, particularly if they are large buildings, they can be dark and ominous. Walk past a fantastic medieval church or an 18th-century house at night and what might impress is the glow of light and the sense of an internal life from the bright windows but the design of the building, its massing and the design of it's facades and the quality of the external architecture become softened or lost completely in shadow.
Everything changed in the 20th century in towns and cities with relatively bright and relatively cheap artificial light for inside and outdoors … so some shopping streets can have so many bright lights now that you can read outside - well almost - but that rarely does much for the buildings unless it's a son et lumiére or Tivoli and then, in many ways, the point of the whole business is to disguise or transform.
Very bright artificial light also has down sides because it will also flatten or bleach out textures and pattern.
But curiously some modern steel and concrete buildings come alive at night and often it is only at night, when they are lit from within, that you can see the internal structure of the building and begin to appreciate how they function and how they are arranged for people coming and going.
Ironically, it is glass as a facing material that is transformed most by night and artificial light. A wall of glass during the day, if it is tinted or it's reflective glass, actually reveals very little from the outside and can distort or dull the view from the inside … it can be a uniform skin that hides a complex internal arrangement or can be like someone wearing sunglasses, just reflecting the outside world back at the viewer.