Best Cities for Design and Modern Architecture

Chicago - Photo by Arch//Land -

People at opentravel made a on the world’s best planned cities. We surely agree on some of them, but we also think there are a lot of cities that may very well deserve a spot on the list. What do you think?

The complete ranking with photos taken from our Flickr pool after the break.

7. Toronto, Canada:

Photo by greyvdm -

Photo by picturenarrative -

6. Copenhagen, Denmark:

Photo by asli_aydin -
Photo by Uncle Buddha -

5. Barcelona, Spain:

Photo by pedro kok -

Photo by pedro kok -

4. New York, USA:

Photo by d.o.c. -
Photo by nenamaz -

3. Sydney, Australia:

Photo by Wojtek Gurak -
Photo by Wojtek Gurak -

2. Berlin, Germany:

Photo by postpanglossian -
Photo by -

1. Chicago, USA:

Photo by d.o.c. -
Photo by Arch//Land -

Cite: Jordana, Sebastian. "Best Cities for Design and Modern Architecture" 31 May 2010. ArchDaily. Accessed 19 Sep 2014. <>


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      warsaw? is lacking modern design compared to most of the great cities. but im sure it will get there one day. when it comes down to poland…id say krakow is where its at.although it also lacks modernism.which isnt necessarily bad. maybe im missing something? what do you see specifically in warsaw? im curious

  1. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    nice to see chicago and toronto recognized, but surely amsterdam and/or rotterdam and tokyo deserve a place on the list?

    • Thumb up Thumb down 0

      That’s a controversial pick! From what i’ve seen in pictures and video, its a beautiful place with a great deal of detail in the planning, as one might expect.

      However, put into practice, the city reportedly leaves much to be desired by its residents. Not to mention the slums on the periphery.

  2. Thumb up Thumb down +1

    Chicago is my favourite city in the world, and I’m happy to see it take the top spot!

    … but seriously, I live in Toronto and it is far from well planned, although changes have been made for a better city. Surely some other European city deserves that spot atleast?

  3. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Who the hell made such a dum list? maybe that gu made a list of the cities he has seen in his life…

  4. Thumb up Thumb down +2

    having beautiful modern buildings does not mean the city is well planned. I would have imagined images of the city from above, or streets with monuments.

      • Thumb up Thumb down 0

        explain please. Burhnam was a genius. Chicago’s lakefront, skyline, architecture, public transit, public parks, and public events warrant the honor. ‘Better’ or ‘worse’ can be debated of course, but “a joke” I don’t see.
        this list is confusing because the headline reads ‘best cities for design and arch…’ which chicago shouldn’t win because nothing that great has been built in the last few decades- besides mil park- But the first line reads ‘best planned city’ and chicago kills here.

      • Thumb up Thumb down 0

        Berlin or Barcelona should be on the top of the list. Chicago!?!? Great building were built in the past….and that’s it.

  5. Thumb up Thumb down +1

    Barcelona is by far the best most beautifully planned city in the world, the street grid has its own unique character and they’re still keeping up with projects planned 100 years ago

  6. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    im not sure why i feel the urge to add my 2 cents as it’s obvious a poll like this is going to disagree with 90% of the people but anyway… sydney?
    the place is a planning nightmare. no suprise that the two images of sydney show the opera house as its the only interesting part of the city.

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      I live in Sydney and I have to agree. It should not be on the list. We haven’t done anything interesting since the Opera House and the city is far too conservative to be considered in the top 10 for design and modern architecture.

  7. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    I think the list rather accurate; Chicago deserves the top spot. However, I would have liked to have seen Melbourne instead of Sydney as it is Australia’s design capital.

  8. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    oh c’mon… Sydney?
    The ONLY piece of architecture is the Opera house. It defines all and overshadows all. It is by far one of the many best and worst mistakes the city has ever made.

    I agree with GRock. Melbourne is a constellation of good architectures on a flat and boring milieu.

    Sydney is blessed with views, weather and geography (probably also making its architecture insignificant). Melbourne had to work itself up to the city it is today.

  9. Thumb up Thumb down +1

    I hear Amsterdam and Tokyo, what about Paris?

    As far as city planning and architectural vision it would be hard to ignore it and place Toronto on the list – and i’m from Toronto!

    The Arab Institute, Tour Eiffel.. Palaces, monuments, bridges.. Toronto is a bland piece of toast next to these Paris ‘croissants’!

    And for a travel site to omit Amsterdam, architecture aside, thats just plain crazy!

    • Thumb up Thumb down 0

      daveed, you are mistaken subject. or maybe you think the eiffel tour and palaces are modern architecture, in that case you born in the wrong century.
      Paris is an old city where there few new architecture possible to built. amsterdam looks same.

      don’t understand why sydney is selected with an old and unique building.

      picture of berlin sucks, but it have a right place

      • Thumb up Thumb down 0

        Agree, and I’ve been living here for 25 years.
        Paris is ultra-conservative… nothing has been done after Piano+Roger’s Centre Pompidou.

  10. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Doubtless, this cities are beautiful; But i really dont agree, that they are the best planned cities worldwide. Maybe they are OK for holiday. But as said before, there are several really awesome cities missing…
    By the way, a really great city is Vienna – absolutely my opinion. There is another ‘Quality of living ranking’from mercer taking NYC as origin. (Vienna is on top *yeah* !)

    • Thumb up Thumb down 0

      NYC is amazing city (Where I live!!) but that doesn’t mean it’s well planned…..cause it’s not. Better planned than Sidney for sure, but Berlin and Barcelona beat all the rest!

  11. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    just came back from a seminar trip to seoul… very impressive city, makes switzerland look like a bacward country in comparison….

  12. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    I’m surprised that cities from the old world made the list. They started out more than 1000 of years ago, I guess they planned them pinpoint perfectly.

  13. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Now the title says best cities for Modern Design and Architecture, but the article asks for the best planned cities. While I do live in Toronto and I can agree there are some modern gems, I wouldn’t go as far as to rank it as high as 7th, there are surly some better cities. Yes we have designs by Normal Foster, I.M. Pei, Mies, and others, albeit their firms and lesser involvement of the actual architect. But if we go by planned design, Toronto is absolutely horrible and should not be listed as a best example. Horrible freeways (we have the most volume of any highway in North America, HWY401), an archaic public transit, massively disconnected neighbourhoods and the weakest political will of any city for progressive change. I might come off harsh, but my time spent here and travels around the world have shown just how lacking Toronto really is

  14. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    The question is about “the world’s best planned cities”. Old or new it should not matter…So… Where is PARIS? Paris has set the standards for all city planning of the modern world (along with the Romans & ancient Greeks). Also it has amazing infusions of modernity that contrast with the old.
    It is the upmost example of a successfuly planned city.

  15. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    I find this an insultingly superficial and a highly white-washed ranking. What are your criteria? It doesn’t seem like any rigour or thorough research has been applied. How many cities were initially considered?

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