Buildings, perhaps unlike any other art form or edifice, have a capacity to influence or become part of a place's cultural identity and history. Defining an architectural monument is, however, an ambiguous exercise – most of their ilk only reach this status years after completion. 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 five structures and buildings which, often aside from original intentions, embody that most ephemeral feeling: a sense of progress.
The world had never seen anything like the graceful iron form that rose from Paris’ Champ de Mars in the late 1880s. The “Eiffel Tower,” built as a temporary installation for the Exposition Universelle de 1889, became an immediate sensation for its unprecedented appearance and extraordinary height. It has long outlasted its intended lifespan and become not only one of Paris' most popular landmarks, but one of the most recognizable structures in human history.
The opening of the Century 21 Exposition on April 21, 1962 transformed the image of Seattle and the American Northwest in the eyes of the world. The region, which had been known until that point more for its natural resources than as a cultural capital, established a new reputation as a center of emergent technologies and aerospace design. This new identity was embodied by the centerpiece of the exposition: the Space Needle, a slender assemblage of steel and reinforced concrete which became—and remains—Seattle’s most iconic landmark.
Locked within Rome’s labyrinthine maze of narrow streets stands one of the most renowned buildings in the history of architecture. Built at the height of the Roman Empire’s power and wealth, the Roman Pantheon has been both lauded and studied for both the immensity of its dome and its celestial geometry for over two millennia. During this time it has been the subject of countless imitations and references as the enduring architectural legacy of one of the world’s most influential epochs
Even in Manhattan—a sea of skyscrapers—the Empire State Building towers over its neighbours. Since its completion in 1931 it has been one of the most iconic architectural landmarks in the United States, standing as the tallest structure in the world until the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center were constructed in Downtown Manhattan four decades later.
The concept of a purpose-built capital city in the interior of the country dates back to Brazil’s independence from Portugal following the Napoleonic Wars, and was even enshrined in Brazil’s first Republican Constitution in 1891. It was not until Niemeyer’s friend and patron Juscelino Kubitschek was elected president in 1956 that progress truly began in earnest.