On Sunday evening, PBS will air a special called 10 Buildings That Changed America, featuring the structures that have altered the course of architecture, construction, and urban planning in this country over the past 225 years. Some, like Frank Lloyd Wright's Robie House, are already famous landmarks, while others, like the Southgate shopping mall in Edina, Minn., require further explanation. See all 10, mapped below, accompanied by a few fun facts.Read More
Mapping PBS's 10 Buildings That Changed America
1. Virginia State Capitol
Richmond, VA 23219
The first in a long line of government buildings modeled after Greek and Roman temples, the Virginia State Capitol was completed in 1788 in Richmond, Va. Designed by Thomas Jefferson while the statesman was serving as ambassador to France, it is modeled after the Maison Carrée, a Roman temple in Nîmes.
2. Trinity Church
Boston, MA 02116
Built by H.H. Richardson in 1877, Boston's Trinity Church established the soon wildly popular Richardsonian Romanesque style. Originally designed with a giant central tower, the building's height was reduced when engineers discovered that the infilled Back Bay couldn't support such a structure.
3. Wainwright Building
St. Louis, MO 63101
The first skyscraper that truly looked the part, the Wainwright Building was designed by the École des Beaux-Arts-trained American architect Louis Sullivan. Sullivan would go on to mentor Frank Lloyd Wright, but not before earning the moniker "The Father of Skyscrapers."
4. Robie House
Chicago, IL 60637
Regularly referred to as America's greatest architect, Frank Lloyd Wright built hundreds of impressive homes over his career, so why did PBS select the Robie House? Because it set the standard for Wright's famous Prairie style, provided a strong break from his earlier shingled works, and, well, because it had an attached three-car garage—"in 1910!"
5. Highland Park Ford Plant
Highland Park, MI 48203
Built in 1910 to designs by Albert Kahn, the Highland Park Ford Plant revolutionized American industry. With few interior columns and broad windows, it allowed for Ford's famous assembly line techniques.
6. Southdale Center
Minneapolis, MN 55435
The Southdale Center enjoys the dubious distinction of being America's first modern indoor mall, completed in 1956. Its architect, Austrian-born Victor Gruen, believed it would be a utopian vision for the American suburb, one that would liberate the masses from the "terror of the automobile."
7. Seagram Building
New York, NY 10152
On the recommendation of several prominent American architects, the daughter of distillery baron Samuel Bronfman selected Ludwig Mies van der Rohe to design Seagram's New York skyscraper. It was the model on which decades of glass skyscrapers were based.
8. Dulles International Airport
Sterling, VA 20166
Prior to Eero Saarinen's Dulles terminal, few American airports "captured the magic of early jet travel." The sculptural, glass-walled masterpiece was a follow-up to Saarinen's TWA terminal in New York, but was the first airport in the world designed expressly for jet travel.
9. Vanna Venturi House
Philadelphia, PA 19118
Referred to as the "first postmodern building," Robert Venturi's Vanna Venturi House—built for his mother in 1964—set the stage for a movement away from the walls of glass and lack of ornamentation that had defined the '50s and '60s. Venturi declared "less is a bore," in response to the Mies van der Rohe edict "less is more," and that mantra is reflected in the positioning of windows, the concealed doorway, and an oversized chimney that actually houses a staircase.
10. Walt Disney Concert Hall
Los Angeles, CA 90012
The lone West Coast entry on PBS's illustrious list, Frank Gehry's Walt Disney Concert Hall incorporates the sweeping metallic surfaces that have become the architect's hallmark. The sail-like forms disguise an inner "box," necessary for optimal acoustics.