American history was made by the people and the place they were at. Today My Design Week explores the history and design of some of America’s most significant arquitectural landmarks – whose walls helped change the course of history.
Virginia State Capitol, Richmond, Virginia (1788) – Designed by Thomas Jefferson and Charles-Louis Clérisseau, the Capitol served as a prototype for countless capitols, courthouses, municipal buildings, and even churches and residences for more than 200 years. The Virginia State Capitol was Jefferson’s declaration of independence from British architecture.
Trinity Church, Boston (1877) by H.H. Richardson – the Church rests on some 4500 wooden piles, each driven through 30 feet of gravel fill, silt, and clay. The interior murals, were completed entirely by American artists like John La Farge. The Richardsonian Romanesque deas went on to influence a generation of American architects, including Louis H. Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright, as they created a new American architecture.
Walt Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles (2003) by Frank Gehry – a tribute to Walt Disney’s love for art and the city of Los Angeles. This concert hall stands out as a truly unique architectural vision, demonstrating that something new and completely different is possible.
Vanna Venturi House, Philadelphia (1964) by Robert Venturi – Designed for his mother Vanna, Venturi used the house as a canvas to demonstrate some of the “complexities and contradictions” in modern architecture. The Vanna Venturi House is widely considered to be the first postmodern building design.
Dulles International Airport, Chantilly, Virginia (1962) by Eero Saarinen who studied airports across the country and came up with a terminal design that expresses ideas of flight and movement in its simple, wing-like form. Saarinen’s design for Dulles influenced a mid-century wave of sensual, expressive modern forms.
Seagram Building, New York (1958) by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe who was an early director of the Bauhaus in Berlin. Mies believed that “less is more” and that “God is in the details.” The Seagram’s minimalism now seems a commonplace. But at the time it was built, the Seagram was an early and radical statement that the new, modern era in American architecture had arrived.
Southdale Center, Edina, Minnesota(1956) by Victor Gruen who envisioned “livable” and “lovable” spaces that got people out of their cars and interacting with each other. The Southdale Center influenced decades of suburban shopping malls, building momentum for suburban sprawl.
Highland Park Ford Plant, Highland Park, Michigan (1910) by Albert Kahn – When Henry Ford introduced the Model T automobile in 1908, it was an immediate hit. Meaning Ford needed a new plant and a new approach to building automobiles. The Highland Park Ford Plant didn’t just change the way Model Ts were built. It changed how everything was built, setting a new template for manufacturing and industry.
Robie House, Chicago (1910) by Frank Lloyd Wright who developed a very different vision: something sleeker, more open and flowing, more free, and more distinctly American. Wright’s ideas influenced American architecture for decades to come and millions of American homes can trace their ancestry back to Wright’s Prairie homes, of which Robie House is a notable example.
Wainwright Building, St. Louis (1891) by Louis Sullivan (Frank Lloyd Wright’s mentor). But before the Wainwright Building, no one had yet designed a tall building that embraced its tallness. Its aesthetic influence can be seen not only in the buildings that immediately followed it, but also in sleek, soaring modernist skyscrapers that came decades later.