America's favorite architecture?
May 3, 2007 2:57 PM   Subscribe

Americas Favorite Architecture - The American Institute of Architecture lists its 150 most favorite buildings as ranked by its members. Zoom-able photos and building information herein. You can also rate your top five.
posted by Burhanistan (65 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
Then of course for the worst buildings, there's Kunstler's eyesore of the month.
posted by rolypolyman at 3:00 PM on May 3, 2007


fighting urges.......must!.....not!....snark!
posted by LionIndex at 3:00 PM on May 3, 2007


Okay. I already think the AIA is pretty much crap, and then the fuckers go and max out my browser on me. On an all flash site.
posted by LionIndex at 3:04 PM on May 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


Double? I'm not sure. The links seem to have changed. And of course, the original has no tags.
posted by Bugg at 3:08 PM on May 3, 2007


Well, at least they got the Gamble House. The rest of it ... Meh.
posted by luriete at 3:08 PM on May 3, 2007


The World Trade Center at number 19? Please.

Sentimentality aside, those are some of the ugliest goddamn buildings ever made.
posted by billypilgrim at 3:09 PM on May 3, 2007


Wow. 8 of the top 20, and 5 of the top 10 are all within 10 miles from me.
posted by Dave Faris at 3:13 PM on May 3, 2007


Okay, basically every large stadium in the US is in there. Why? They're giant, ugly bowls. Also, half of the selections are just very tall skyscrapers. Basically rectangles. What?

Conclusion: America's favorite architecture --> America has terrible taste. What a surprise.

I was glad to see the Allegheny County Courthouse on there... that's an astounding building; that Biltmore Estate place looks fantastic too. One of those follies of hubris that I imagine bankrupted the dude who built it... maybe not, I don't know anything about the place, but it gives off that vibe in the picture.
posted by synaesthetichaze at 3:14 PM on May 3, 2007


WARNING: Will resize your browser and make you angry
posted by mrnutty at 3:14 PM on May 3, 2007


These seem to be more of a "America's most recognized" architecture. I guess that means favorite in some sense. At least they didn't try to call it "America's best".

Kunstler seems like a bit of an ass, though I tend to agree with him about half the time.
posted by Eekacat at 3:15 PM on May 3, 2007


lots of the buildings just seem like they are on there because they are famous as opposed to architechturally sound. In fact, I like the buildings at the end a lot better than the earlier ones.

Thanks for the link, though.
posted by milestogo at 3:17 PM on May 3, 2007


Okay, from the wikipedia page on the Biltmore Estate:

Vanderbilt paid little attention to the family business or his own investments, and the construction and upkeep of Biltmore depleted much of his inheritance.

Heh, cool. Since it was a Vanderbilt, I suppose they didn't go bankrupt from it, but still, pretty neat undertaking.
posted by synaesthetichaze at 3:18 PM on May 3, 2007


Bite your tongue, billypilgrim. The errant neo-gothic touches aside, there was something magnificently unsentimental about the Towers. Yamasaki deserves the accolades.
posted by adamgreenfield at 3:19 PM on May 3, 2007


They sure have a hate-on for Daniel Libeskind.

The AIA is absolutely right about the current proposal for the WTC/Freedom Tower--except for the fact it ought to be #1. Good lord, what a horrid compromise. I'd rather see the site remain a gaping hole in the ground than build that monstrosity. Idiots, all of them.
posted by fandango_matt at 3:20 PM on May 3, 2007


OK, at least they had the Vietnam Veterans' Memorial and the TWA Terminal in there, so it wasn't completely meritless.

Oh, and, nice tags, Burhanistan.
posted by adamgreenfield at 3:24 PM on May 3, 2007


Wow, that's a shitty UI.
posted by Mick at 3:28 PM on May 3, 2007


fandango_matt, anything bad said about Libeskind is fully justified. He's a world-class lox - feh and ptui on him.
posted by adamgreenfield at 3:29 PM on May 3, 2007


Okay, basically every large stadium in the US is in there. Why? They're giant, ugly bowls.

Erm. They were, once upon a time, but no longer.
posted by Kwantsar at 3:31 PM on May 3, 2007


What the fuck is with all that neoclassical and fussy frou-frou shit? Gross. And who the hell ranks the Empire State ahead of the Chrysler Building? This is making me a lot more angry than I expected it to....


rolypolyman writes "Then of course for the worst buildings, there's Kunstler's eyesore of the month."

I disagree with a lot of what Kunstler has to say (and for a man who is so obsessed with well-crafted beauty, that website....), but I love his writing. He's so pissed, and he communicates it so well.
posted by mr_roboto at 3:33 PM on May 3, 2007


I mean, seriously: "It lacks the dignity of even a common bowling trophy." That's pretty awesome.
posted by mr_roboto at 3:35 PM on May 3, 2007


Document: Original Post
Find: They, The AIA
Replace With: Kunstler


I thought Libeskind's original design for the WTC was perfect. Then, of course, people began changing it. Love ze concrete barrier baze protekting ze freedom, Comrade Arkitekt!

Also, I didn't see any of Louis Sullivan's work in that AIA list. Pfui.
posted by fandango_matt at 3:41 PM on May 3, 2007


One my faves is the American Radiator Building. Makes me smile every time I see it, rising just off Bryant Park. Done by the same guy who would go on to do Rockefeller Center.
posted by Brian James at 3:41 PM on May 3, 2007


I know it's controversial, but I would have really liked to see Boston City Hall on there.

Neoclassical and Colonial Revival bullshit leaves me totally cold.
posted by mckenney at 3:41 PM on May 3, 2007


A few may find this interesting: I do some hired-in design & marketing for one of the listed building's architects (I'll be all professional and Say No More as to Whom). The day this list came out, I was there for a presentation and instead spent about thirty minutes with him discussing the outcome, the building in question's ranking and that of other contenders.

The surprising thing about it — because all architects I've yet met consider themselves God's own gift and what the hoi polloi have to say about their Immortal Structures is of no consequence — was how excited he was about simply being on this list. It was, I must admit, sort of sweet.
posted by Haruspex at 3:47 PM on May 3, 2007


Yankee Stadium over Fenway Park? Even Yankee fans admit that that place is a toilet bowl. Whatever. Let the old, round-spectacled, self-important douchebags at the AIA have their fun.
posted by Rock Steady at 3:48 PM on May 3, 2007


I grew up enamored with I.M. Pei's East Wing of the National Gallery in D.C. Sure, the gallery spaces themselves are sometimes oddly shaped (hexagonal, with overly high walls and little floorspace), but that atrium had made me a lifetime architecture lover.
posted by HeroZero at 3:48 PM on May 3, 2007


At least they got 333 North Wacker in there, beautiful building placement etc.
posted by Max Power at 3:50 PM on May 3, 2007


Hooray for Thorncrown Chapel being on there! Jones (I've always felt) was the only architect who truly 'got' FLW and carried on the aesthetic while still maintaining a sense of his own individuality. He took what is arguably the most beautiful facet of Wright's work (his stained glass) and just made it explode into these vast, intricate three dimensional spaces. See also Pine Eagle Chapel.
posted by datacenter refugee at 3:52 PM on May 3, 2007


I know it's controversial, but I would have really liked to see Boston City Hall on there.

I forget if it is Kallman, McKinnell or Knowles who tells this story, but one of them was visiting Boston after the building was done and he told his cabbie to take him to City Hall. The cabbie asks the architect (not knowing who he is) if he knows how they designed the new building. Curious, the architect says he does not, but he'd love to hear it. The cabbie takes out a penny, and flips it to show the Lincoln Memorial. then he rotates it so the Memorial is upside-down, and says, "See, there it is."
posted by Rock Steady at 3:54 PM on May 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


#142 John Hancock Towers? Do they think that the single John Hancock Tower are closely spaced twin towers?

Lots of great architecture in this Country, but what a lousy site.
posted by parallax7d at 3:59 PM on May 3, 2007


Metafilter: Your favorite architect sucks.

unfortunately, I'm my favorite architect. :(
posted by LionIndex at 4:10 PM on May 3, 2007


What the hell? That list is an abomination, except perhaps that my No.1, the Vietnam Memorial, at least is in the top ten. But no Seagram building? Lever House? Monadnock building? Insane. Nothing by Morphosis? There's a vast wealth of great architecture in the US that should be on a list sponsored by the AIA, but it isn't this dreck.
And the less said about Liebeskind the better.
posted by Flashman at 4:16 PM on May 3, 2007


The UI made me kind of seasick.

I'm glad the Golden Gate Bridge is there (#5), and surprised that more Chicago buildings aren't higher on the list.
posted by rtha at 4:38 PM on May 3, 2007


Chrysler Building.
posted by kirkaracha at 4:44 PM on May 3, 2007


Im suprised that the WTC is on there. Tall? Sure. Beautiful? Not at all...

I only wish that my favorite building in San Francisco, Crown Zellerbach @ 1 Bush didnt make it, and neither did the Transamerica pyramid. And they have the Apple Store on 5th ave butt leave out the DeYoung? Makes you wonder what these East Coast Biased clowns are smoking...

and only eight masterpieces by Lloyd Wright? and only two by I.M Pei?

At least they have the Thorncrown Chapel. That makes me forgive them...
posted by subaruwrx at 5:00 PM on May 3, 2007


I really like the site design (ok, yeah, it shouldn't have resized my browser without asking.) Too bad there's only one photo per building. I won't comment on the list itself except to say it seems to have been randomly selected and ordered by a bunch of 5th graders.
posted by gwint at 5:12 PM on May 3, 2007


and only eight masterpieces by Lloyd Wright?

That's really all he deserves, if even that. Wright should get the Robie House, Unity Temple, Fallingwater, the Guggenheim, the Hollyhock Residence, the S.C. Johnson Wax buildings, and the Marin County building. That's seven, and it's still a lot compared to anyone else. There are plenty of guys that just did one great building that should be in there.
posted by LionIndex at 5:18 PM on May 3, 2007


All you have to do to get on this list is name your building Union Station
posted by nomad at 5:21 PM on May 3, 2007


Or put some fucking columns in front of it and have some "I think I'm so great" dickhead like the President live there.
posted by mckenney at 5:25 PM on May 3, 2007


Gawd, that's one of the worst web interfaces that I've ever used. Since when does the web go right to left? Was there something wrong with up and down?

Anyway, it's nice to see so much H.H.Richardson in there, I thought he was pretty much forgotten. I work a few blocks from a not very well known work of his, The Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Pittsburgh known as the Brick Oven Church because of the ridiculously thick stone walls. The man took his masonry seriously.
posted by octothorpe at 7:04 PM on May 3, 2007


The National Building Museum is a sight to behold. If you're in DC, it's actually worth a visit. Glad to see it on this otherwise lousy list.
posted by TheGoldenOne at 7:45 PM on May 3, 2007


so many are in new york
posted by Flood at 8:09 PM on May 3, 2007


The Milwaukee Museum of Art is a treasure. The "wings" fold out each day and then fold back down. Crowds usually gather to watch. Probably the only building on the list that moves.

Great location to view the lake and the city. Even the parking garage underneath echoes the design and has some natural light.
posted by melkozek at 8:17 PM on May 3, 2007


I prefer Gyo Obata's Independence Temple over the National Air and Space Museum.

I would have liked to see more churches in general. They're generally more captivating than box-y corporate structures. (e.g. Thorncrown Chapel)
posted by dgaicun at 8:19 PM on May 3, 2007


FACK this shit.
posted by Count at 8:28 PM on May 3, 2007


I was impressed. I didn't agree with all of their choices (the Gugenheim and Getty Museum are terribly overrated.

The World Trade Center at number 19? Please. Sentimentality aside, those are some of the ugliest goddamn buildings ever made.

Ain't that the truth. The Twin Towers look nice from afar, but if you ever went downtown and visited the WTC at ground level, you could see not just the ugliness of the buildings up-close but also the horrible design of the whole WTC complex itself. You know what my favorite piece of architecture from the WTC area was? This

I know it's controversial, but I would have really liked to see Boston City Hall on there.

No, no. A thousand times no. I detest all of those I-Hate-Humanity-Concrete-Block-In-The-Middle-of-A-Concrete-Courtyard atrocities that are imposed on our cities by architects with more ego than good sense.

See also: This hideous eyesore
posted by deanc at 8:33 PM on May 3, 2007


Shoot, I was distracted by my rant about Boston city hall. I mean to say that while I didn't agree with all their choices, the AIA had many inspiring picks. They were the sort of places that would make someone want to be an architect after visiting.
posted by deanc at 8:34 PM on May 3, 2007


No Tadao Ando and only one Louis Kahn. Grr.
posted by theorique at 9:07 PM on May 3, 2007


neither did the Transamerica pyramid

Other than the Transamerica Pyramid at number 61, you mean?
posted by jewishbuddha at 9:50 PM on May 3, 2007


Also, I didn't see any of Louis Sullivan's work in that AIA list. Pfui.

Carson Pirie Scott was on there, and the (Adler & Sullivan) Auditorium Building.

Yeah, I didn't get the upper reaches of the list, but it definitely demonstrated the use of the vague word "favorite" here. The Capitol, the White House, the Jefferson Memorial -- all fine architecture in their own right, but hardly three of the ten best works in the country. The Chrysler Building is more interesting than Empire State any day of the week (not that ESB is bad, of course). I also suspect that, like WTC, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial is on there for sentimental reasons (but unlike WTC, deserves it for architectural reasons). The Center had an impressiveness about it, but was the very epitome of the somewhat Le Corbusierian tower-in-a-plaza awfulness that soon afterward was abandoned everywhere.

Still, some of the top 20 are very unexpected and well-deserved choices. Both Brooklyn and Golden Gate bridges, and the Arch, fit the mold of iconic but deserved. (OK, I lean toward engineering.) But entries like the St. Regis or the Del Coronado probably couldn't have ranked this high on the strength of favorite-son voting.

But then you have the Bellagio. I just don't know what to say. Maybe it is the best neoclassical/postmodern casino hotel the US has ever seen, but I suspect being favorited had more to do with comps, liquor, and the topless pool than anything else ...

And yes, as a Chicago native, I must protest. No Hancock (the better Hancock)? No Marina City (a problematic work, but influential in its time)? No Water Tower? Bah. Still, I can't argue with the ones that did get listed.

Now, the interface. As if horizontal flash wasn't bad enough, I had a serious quibble with the whole "A-Z" thing. They listed them all by the first letter, e.g. Louis Sullivan under "L". Good grief.

I detest all of those I-Hate-Humanity-Concrete-Block-In-The-Middle-of-A-Concrete-Courtyard atrocities that are imposed on our cities by architects with more ego than good sense.

Well, Brutalism has had its day, so I wouldn't worry too much about it. It was a fad that had more to do with the advent of low-cost and innovative concrete techniques than an intense anthropopathy.
posted by dhartung at 10:25 PM on May 3, 2007


I've stayed at #103, the Hyatt Regency in Atlanta, and I must admit that the 22-story atrium is pretty impressive, although the building's exterior is nothing special. The glass elevators are extremely fast and smooth, and zipping up all those flights was both exhilarating and terrifying. If you're ever in downtown Atlanta, it's definitely worth a ride.
posted by gatorae at 11:17 PM on May 3, 2007


By date it's somewhat interesting that 4 of the 150 structures were built in the 18th century, and there are none from the first three quarters of the 19th centrury. The gap between the US Capitol (1793) and Trinity Church (1877) is almost 100 years. Yet there is a selection for almost every year in the 19th century after that (24 total), as if architecture suddenly "began", fully formed, in 1877 after an 80 year death.

More choices are from the first half of the 20th century than the second half (57 from 1900-1949 and 49 from 1950-1999). And 16 selections are from the 21st century alone. Probably from the well known 'newness' bias. Or maybe architecture is improving. . . it damn well better be with all the architects we're probably educating now. Yet there are more artists than ever and art in general is declining.
posted by dgaicun at 12:53 AM on May 4, 2007


Why is this website so awful? Right off the bat it resizes my browser. The entire site is designed around horizontal scrolling. The scrollbar is non-standard ("drag to navigate") and seems to have no keyboard bindings. The photos all have some crazy reflection underneath them like they were mirrored in water, only in most cases the bottom of the photo is hundreds of feet off the ground making a completely nonsensical mirror line.

Oh, it's all Flash. That explains why it's so freakin awful.

I can accept that "the greatest hits of US architecture" would result in a fairly banal list of buildings. But couldn't they at least present the buildings in a humane way? Ugh.
posted by Nelson at 1:15 AM on May 4, 2007


The new Marriot Courtyard in Saratoga Springs, a hotel designed to look like a forensic pathology lab.

As mr roboto noted, that Kunstler writes a funny goddamn rant.

Also one more post-facto vote for the Chrysler Building at No. 1.
posted by gompa at 1:28 AM on May 4, 2007


15 are within 5 miles of me. I've been inside all but one of those 15, and and I'm an employee of another. Cool.
posted by MrMoonPie at 7:19 AM on May 4, 2007


dgaicun, interesting analysis. Of course the Capitol we see is not the 1793 structure but the mid-19th-century structure that more or less enclosed it, so that throws things off a bit. But -- without looking -- I believe that means that no Federal Style buildings are on the list at all, and that was the first "indigenous" American architectural style. I think there's some arguably Greek Revival and Neogothic listings. But I wonder if there's a perception that before that, architecture was too European, or if the buildings are just too small. No Monticello, for instance (and the Memorial was explicitly evocative of the house).
posted by dhartung at 11:52 AM on May 4, 2007


I guess it was just me that thought "Target List" then...
posted by knapah at 11:52 AM on May 4, 2007


If you go through and vote for your top five the Chrysler building wins by a mile.
posted by zeoslap at 11:59 AM on May 4, 2007


No Monticello, for instance

#27.
posted by dgaicun at 12:35 PM on May 4, 2007


dgaicun writes "No Monticello, for instance

"#27."


If you read this thread, you'll notice that people keep missing things. I think that's pretty clear evidence of the AIA site's shitty shitty design.
posted by mr_roboto at 12:42 PM on May 4, 2007


This site made me sad/mad, but yay! Metafilter for having soul.
It almost felt as if the selections were made by the Dept. of Homeland Security.

At least the Brooklyn Bridge was way up there. . .
posted by flotson at 6:31 PM on May 4, 2007


I've stayed at #103, the Hyatt Regency in Atlanta, and I must admit that the 22-story atrium is pretty impressive, although the building's exterior is nothing special.

i'd say it's the single most distinctive building on the list. It's harder to tell now that so many taller buildings have sprung up around it. But when it was opened, it was the most futuristic thing in the U.S.. But you can go to the bar atop the Peachtree Plaza next to it at night and look down on some kind of spaceship about to take off from the top of the Hyatt. It was the only building on the list I thought was a resounding, "Yes!"

didnt make it, and neither did the Transamerica pyramid.

#61.

that Biltmore Estate place looks fantastic too.

Well worth a trip to tour. Beats anything in Newport.
posted by 3.2.3 at 2:19 PM on May 5, 2007


Oh. My. Lord. /outraged architect
posted by Dick Paris at 6:09 PM on May 5, 2007


OK. It's about favorites…I suppose I should not be outraged by the selections. I did talk about this with some other architects when the survey started and we recognized that the biggest problem is that it will be more a survey of "name five buildings".
posted by Dick Paris at 6:16 PM on May 5, 2007


[the place for bitching and moaning about the things you dislike about other posters is MetaTalk. Say it with me M E T A T A L K]
posted by jessamyn at 6:33 AM on May 6, 2007


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