Architecture inherently appears to be at odds with our mobile world – while one is static, the other is in constant motion. That said, architecture has had, and continues to have, a significant role in facilitating the rapid growth and evolution of transportation: cars require bridges, ships require docks, and airplanes require airports.
In creating structures to support our transit infrastructure, architects and engineers have sought more than functionality alone. The architecture of motion creates monuments – to governmental power, human achievement, or the very spirit of movement itself. AD Classics are ArchDaily's continually updated collection of longer-form building studies of the world's most significant architectural projects. Here we've assembled seven projects which stand as enduring symbols of a civilization perpetually on the move.
Separated by the turbulent waters of the East River, New York City and Brooklyn spent years as independent metropoles before the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge united them. In order to reach the deep seabed and avoid obstructing the waterway, engineer John Roebling designed what would become, until 1903, the world’s longest suspension bridge. His unprecedented decision to use steel cables would lead to its standardization as the structural metal of choice, fuelling a new course in the fields of architecture and civil engineering.
Built to showcase Trans World Airlines, the TWA Flight Center would ultimately come to represent far more than an architectural advertisement. The soaring, upturned curves of the terminal’s concrete structure were claimed by Eero Saarinen to capture the spirit of flight itself. Although the Flight Center was eventually outmoded by advances in aviation technology, it will soon be transformed into an airport hotel, allowing it to continue serving the traveling public into the future.
Situated in the second most populous city in Japan, the Yokohama International Passenger Terminal is a masterwork of circulation planning. With a complex, multilayered design achievable only with the aid of computer modeling, the Terminal creates a highly dynamic series of spaces tied together by a deceptively simple circulatory loop. Its transit program is sheltered neatly under an open plaza that connects seamlessly with nearby parks, creating a continuous urban parkscape along the waterfront.
Already noted for his work on the TWA Flight Center, Eero Saarinen was again commissioned to design a terminal for Washington, D.C.’s Dulles International Airport. Sharing the former’s graceful curves and representation of flight, the Dulles Main Terminal is also noted for the luxurious “mobile lounges” that could shuttle up to ninety passengers from the terminal to their plane. It remains one of the busiest and most iconic airports in the United States to this day.
Similar to the Brooklyn Bridge, the Bac de Roda Bridge was conceived as the tie that would bind two disparate communities together. Santiago Calatrava, who posited that the aesthetics and engineering of the bridge required equal consideration, designed a structure that would place experiential quality above practicality. A pair of parabolic arches support the roadway, with an additional pair of canted arches meeting at their apexes to create pedestrian walkways bounded by the cable stays, resulting in a markedly different experience for those passing on foot and those in cars.
Once a monument to American transportation and economic success in the Edwardian Era, New York City’s Pennsylvania Station became the center of controversy and protest upon its destruction in the 1960s. Occupying four full city blocks, the station was envisioned as the new main point of entry into New York; accordingly, rail traffic was stratified into three levels to reduce congestion, with cavernous waiting areas based on the Baths of Caracalla above. Pennsylvania Station’s demolition would directly prompt the creation of the Landmarks Preservation Commission, a turning point in the preservationist movement.
Comprising 182 unique stations, the Moscow Metro is more than a transit system: it is an underground museum of Russian cultural history. Built in five phases, the Metro stations range in style from lavishly ornamented Baroque to sleek, minimalist Modernist. The wide variety of designs represents not only the pre-Communist history of Russia, but the changing attitudes of the Soviet Union from its creation to its twilight years.