Architecture that has Shaped America

When you can go to the beach all summer, why not try something new and more meaningful? Visit some of the most popular American landmarks this great country has to offer. Here is a list of historic landmarks that prove America has much to offer.

  1. Virginia State Capitol-Richmond, Virginia- Thomas Jefferson and French Architect Charles-Louis Cleriseau designed the State Capitol of Virginia. As founding father of the United States, Thomas Jefferson was passionate about America’s independence from Britain. He was no fan of the king of England and the Georgian architecture that bore his name. The neoclassical design of the State Capitol has been a major influence on American governmental buildings for two centuries.
  2. Trinity Church-Boston, MAThe architect Henry Hobson Richardson wanted to create a unique structure distinctly American. He integrated personal ideas with traditional Romanesque design to create Richardson Romanesque architecture. Trinity Church became home to bold towers and arches, an innovative open format layout, and beautiful murals and stained-glass windows that would later influence Frank Lloyd Wright.
  3. Wainwright Building, St. Louis, MO Was the first skyscraper to embrace the same square footage at the top as on the ground level, rather than the wedding cake tier shape that was used in previous architecture. Louis H. Sullivan designed it. The Wainwright building became the aesthetic influence for skyscrapers of the future.
  1. Robie House, Chicago, ILdesigned and created by Frank Lloyd Wright this residential architecture is distinctly American. It was created to compliment the landscape of the Midwest. His radical approach to design incorporated a low and long shape that would blend in with the prairies, and continuous windows to bring the outside into the home. Wright’s architecture also offered a more informal lifestyle that has influenced residential design to this day.
  2. Highland Park Ford Plant, Highland Park, MIArchitect Albert Khan was hired by Henry Ford to design a large space to house car assembly lines. The need for a vast amount of space meant a revolutionary approach to boring warehouse architecture. Khan designed a space that was three times larger than any vehicle plant of the day which allowed for larger windows bringing fresh air and daylight to the workers. While the plant was quickly outgrown it became the template for the manufacturing industry.
  3. Southdale Center, Edina, MO-Austrian-born architect Victor Gruen spent his early years in Vienna. Here people interacted in lively pedestrian environments filled with shops, cafes, and street artists. Later, working in the US he wanted to liberate American cities from the “terror of the automobile.” Dayton Department stores hired him to turn the standard street-facing strip center inside out and introduce the formula for the first regional indoor shopping mall. Complete with shops and a large, light-filled interior space he called the “Garden Court of Perpetual Spring.”
  4. Seagram Building, New York, NY-German-born architect, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe came to the US and brought with him some powerful, even radical, innovative ideas about architecture. He believed “less is more” and “God is in the details.” His Seagram building was an avant-garde statement when it was completed in 1958. Covered in glass and metal it helped usher in a new era of simple, straightforward skyscrapers. These buildings embraced their minimalist geometries rather than camouflaging them with superfluous ornament and detail. Inside the building was the luxurious use of bronze, travertine, and marble which created an opulent, sleek, minimalistic interior aesthetic.
  1. Dulles International Airport, Chantilly, VAcommissioned by Eero Saarinen in 1958, a new airport west of Washington, D.C. Air travel was exploding as a modern form of transportation, and the dawning age of commercial jet travel called for an innovative approach to airport design. For this project, he studied airports across the country and produced a terminal design that expresses ideas of flight and movement in its simple, wing-like form. Constructed of glass, steel, and concrete with a catenary roof supported by cables still provides an open, airy, and modern environment for today’s travelers.
  2. Vanna Venturi House- Chestnut Hill, Pennsylvania-Robert Venturi had some lofty ideas about architecture, and he found ways to express them in this small house. It was designed for his elderly mother, and he used the house as a canvas to demonstrate some of the complexities and contradictions in modern architecture. Venturi took issue with the modernist overly simplified solutions. He believed that buildings, like the people who occupy them, are not just that simple. He loved to break the rules such as the idea that decoration has no place on buildings. The home’s façade, which acts as a sort of billboard for a house, with its pitched roofline and functionless arch are both clear departures from modernist principles. Inside, rather than providing the order and simplicity that modernists worshipped, Venturi’s design chose to surprise with its contradictions. The interior design played with concepts of scale, with an oversized fireplace and an undersized stairway leading to nowhere!
  3. Walt Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles, CaliforniaFrank Gehry’s concert hall looks like a gleaming clipper ship, its sails filled with wind. The stainless-steel exterior forms were inspired by his love of sailing. To bring his bold new vision to the Hall he needed new tools. He turned to sophisticated computer software called CATIA (computer-aided three-dimensional interactive application), originally created to design French fighter jets. Gehry designed the auditorium to provide both impeccable acoustic and a sense of intimacy, wrapping the audience around the orchestra. Walt Disney Concert Hall stands out as an utterly unique architectural vision, demonstrating that something new and completely different is possible.

These ten landmarks show us the influence of America’s best architects that are all around us in the homes we live in, the offices where we work, our public buildings, and houses of worship. Many have been shaped by a handful of imaginative, audacious, and even arrogant Americans throughout history whose bold ideas have been copied far and wide. To visit these sites is a journey that will take you across America and inside these groundbreaking works of art and engineering. These ten daring architects set out to change the way we live, work, and play. Visit one today and experience it for yourself!


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