PBS lists Top Ten Buildings that Changed America

Vanna Venturi House / Robert Venturi © Maria Buszek

PBS has released their selections of the top ten buildings that have changed the way Americans live, work and play. From Thomas Jefferson’s 224-year-0ld Virginia State Capitol to Robert Ventui’s postmodern masterpiece the Vanna Venturi House, each building on the list will be featured in a new TV and web production coming to PBS in 2013. Continue after the break to view the top ten influential buildings and let us know your thoughts!

1) Virginia State Capitol / Thomas Jefferson (1788)
Richmond, Virginia

Virginia State Capitol / Thomas Jefferson © Steve Tatum

2) Trinity Church / H.H. Richardson (1877)
Boston, Massachusetts

Trinity Church / H.H. Richardson © Joshua_d

3) Wainwright Building / Louis Sullivan (1891)
St. Louis, Missouri

Wainwright Building / © University of Missouri

4) Robie House / Frank Lloyd Wright (1910)
Chicago, Illinois

Robie House / Frank Lloyd Wright © Nat Hansen

5) Highland Park Ford Plant / Albert Kahn (1910)
Highland Park, Michigan

Highland Park Ford Plant / Albert Kahn © Andrew Jameson via Wikipedia

6) Southdale Center / Victor Gruen (1956)
Edina, Minnesota

Southdale Center / Victor Gruen © Bobak Ha'Eri via Wikipedia

7) Seagram Building / Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (1958)
New York, New York

Seagram Building / Ludwig Mies van der Rohe © Robert Ostmann

8) Dulles International Airport / Eero Saarinen (1963)
Chantilly, Virginia

Dulles International Airport / © MWAA

9) Vanna Venturi House / Robert Venturi (1964)
Chestnut Hill, Pennsylvania

Vanna Venturi House / Robert Venturi © Maria Buszek

10) Walt Disney Concert Hall / Frank Gehry (2003)
Los Angeles, California

Walt Disney Concert Hall / Frank Gehry © Carol M. Highsmith via Wikipedia

What buildings would make your list?

Reference: PBS wttw11
Photographer is unique to each photo. Flickr user’s Steve Tatum, Joshua_d, Nat Hansen, Robert Ostmann and Maria Buszek, licensed through Creative Commons.

Cite: Rosenfield, Karissa. "PBS lists Top Ten Buildings that Changed America" 12 May 2012. ArchDaily. Accessed 18 Sep 2014. <http://www.archdaily.com/?p=233659>


  1. Thumb up Thumb down +18

    Wich America? North? South? Central? or only US?

  2. Thumb up Thumb down +9


  3. Thumb up Thumb down +1

    Monadnock Building, Chicago, Illinois – Burnham and Root
    S.C. Johnson and Son Administration Building and Research Tower, Racine WI – Frank Lloyd Wright
    Dymaxion House – R. Buckmister Fuller
    S. R. Crown Hall, Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago, IL– Ludwig Mies van der Rohe
    Case Study House No. 8, Los Angeles, CA – Charles and Ray Eames
    Levitt Town Housing, Levitt Town, NY – William Levitt
    The Gateway Arch, St. Louis, MO – Eero Saarinen
    The Salk Institute for Biological Studies, La Jolla, CA – Louis I. Kahn
    Chinati Foundation, Marfa, Texas – Donald Judd
    Sony Building, formerly the AT&T Building , Philip Johnson and John Burgee
    Roden Crater Celestial Observatory, near Flagstaff, AZ – James Turrell

  4. Thumb up Thumb down +5

    balloonframe house / suburbs
    trailer / trailerpark

  5. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    #9 and #10 should not be on the list at all – they are simply too recent to have “changed the way Americans live, work and play.” Right now the jury is very much still out on these two, especially #10.

    Based on the criteria, I would suggest that Independence Hall in Philadelphia should be #1 on the list. The building was as important a part of the creation of the US Constitution in 1787 as many of the delegates.

  6. Thumb up Thumb down +2

    Taliesin West, Falling Water, Johnson’s Glass House in New Caanan,CT., Fuller’s Geodesic Dome,
    The Twin Towers, Monticello, The Golden Arches!

  7. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    I can’t believe they omitted Wright’s Larkin Administration building (demolished 1950)

    And Buffalo’s grain elevators (still extant)

  8. Thumb up Thumb down +3

    The list is for the buildings that changed USA (not America btw) as in the general people way of undestanding architecture, not the buildings that most influenced architects. You may or not agree with the list, but It’s my opinion that most commenters point of view is skewed by their architectural background, not understanding the real perspective of the list.
    That is why I can understand why a mall is side be side with Seagrams and a beautiful (but mostly unknown) Ford plant, and not a single building from “the other” Kahn present.

  9. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    I’m surprised the Tribune Tower in Chicago (and the competition that brought it and the modern skyscraper) didn’t make the list.

  10. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    I agree with Alvaro Flores. The list represents arguably the most significant american works of the most influencial architects. I’m not familiar with the Venturi House and I might question The Disney Concert Hall, but I can’t think of a better alternative. Future works in NY by Daniel Liebeskind and Bjarke Ingels (among others) could deserve mention, but then it’s too late, isn’t.

  11. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    There is not any domestic architecture listed. The Venturi house is influential for architects, but not so much for architecture–the Shed style house, PostModernism and so forth. Big about 30 years ago, not so much now. So I wouldn’t really call that as influential for domestic architecture as for architectural theory.

    Just off the top of my head, I would list:

    Balloon framing, metal nails, machine saws, factory-made windows, standardized parts, mail-order houses, eclectricity, indoor plumbing, big box stores and synthetic materials as technological changes that made America. And cars and highways and electronic communications of course.

    In domestic and venacular architecture it is hard to pick specific buildings but I would include:

    The log cabin
    American barns and farmsteads
    Old growth timber and Boomtown commercial buildings
    World Fair pavillions and pattern books
    mail-order houses
    The garage and the parking lot
    Strip malls
    roadside architecture
    Ex-urbs and McMansions

  12. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Me hubiese gustado la inclusion del Edificio Sears,ya que es integrante de la fuerza: laboral,economica,arquitectonica e icono de nacion incipiente a nacion grandiosa de todo el mundo. Con todo respeto.

  13. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Old North Church, Boston; U.S. Capitol Building (originial design and revisions); University of Virginia (original buildings and campus);Lyndhurst, Tarrytown, N.Y.; Marshall Field’s Wholesale Store, Chicago; Wainright Building, Saint Louis; Robie House, Chicago; Seagram Building, New York; Richards Medical Labs, Philadelphia; Vanna Venturi House, Philadelphia

  14. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    I look forward to MyArchDaily, a source I have missed for the first 86 years of my loving Architecture! Weimar, Germany (after 20 years in Detroit and 50 in Philadelphia, when I wasn’t roaming the globe to appease my hunger for good architecture!)

  15. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Right on point! Chronologically speaking, it’s what has influenced my work from day from day one. Sure they could of added many more architects to the list but 10 is a finite number!

  16. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Perhaps one should start with the architecture of pre-white, European influenced America. native American examples of architecture abound and should not be left off this top ten list. They have lasted thousands of years rather than the proposed list representing 200 years. The influence of these examples are relected in whole regions of America, particularly in the Southwest. Hopi housing, Adobe construction, Cliff-Dwelling designed communities, all tell us about our first architecture.

    Let’s get real and do the right thing!

    • Thumb up Thumb down 0

      Native architecture is pure. It is original. It contains few outside influences. Unlike say the ancient Chinese architecture or any other – there was no cross-pollination from others. The uniqueness of these ten buildings and their architects is their unique use of new (sometimes untested materials) in new and unique ways. And they combined different styles and aesthetics. Wright brought together influences from native culture in Taliesin West, he brought Japanese influence into his homes because of his experiences in Japan. So many architects brought these influences into their lives.

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