AD Classics presents you with some of the greatest buildings of the past that have influenced and shaped architecture today. Throughout ArchDaily's 11 years, more than 200 classics were published, and for this edition, we have rounded up the top 20 most visited AD Classics to date.
Architects are often bound by the will of their client, reluctantly sacrificing and compromising design choices in order to suit their needs. But what happens when architects become their own clients? When architects design for themselves, they have the potential to test their ideas freely, explore without creative restriction, and create spaces which wholly define who they are, how they design, and what they stand for. From iconic architect houses like the Gehry Residence in Santa Monica to private houses that double as a public-entry museum, here are 9 fascinating examples of how architects design when they only have themselves to answer to.
In March 1972, an article in The Architectural Review proclaimed that this structure was “probably the best building in Paris since Le Corbusier’s Cité de Refuge for the Salvation Army.” The article was, of course, referring to Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer’s first project in Europe: the French Communist Party Headquarters in Paris, France, built between 1967 and 1980. Having worked with Le Corbusier on the 1952 United Nations Building in New York and recently finished the National Congress as well as additional iconic government buildings in Brasilia, Niemeyer was no stranger to the intimate relationship between architecture and political power.
Located on a hill in Mauer, on the outskirts of Vienna, the Wotruba Church was the culmination of sculptor Fritz Wotruba’s life (the project’s architect, Fritz G. Mayr, is often forgotten). Constructed in the mid-1970s, Mayr completed the project one year after Wotruba’s death, enlarging the artist’s clay model to create a functional walk-in concrete sculpture. As can be seen in these images by Denis Esakov, the result is a chaotic brutalist ensemble that toys with the boundaries between art and architecture.
We look for materials which are as intelligent, versatile and complex as natural phenomena, in other words materials which don't just appeal to the eyes of the astounded art critic, but are also really efficient and appeal to all our senses.
– Jacques Herzog
Like several other works of architecture by Herzog & de Meuron the Forum Building, known since the 2012 relocation of Barcelona's Museu de les Ciències Naturals as the Museu Blau, is remarkable for its sensitive use of materials. A triangular mass of gray-blue concrete punctured and split in places to reveal the contrasting use of reflective planes, the building is a hard one to ignore, especially for an architectural photographer.
Ahead of the 125th anniversary of the birth of Russian architect Konstantin Melnikov, Photographer Denis Esakov provides a recent look at 12 of Melnikov’s projects—all of which have been standing for over 70 years. Enjoy this selection of photographs that show how some projects have aged, deteriorated or been adapted, and note Melnikov’s persistent fascination with the meeting of curvature and rectangularity.
Despite being one of the seminal works of modern Scandinavian architecture, Alvar Aalto’s Viipuri Library languished in relative obscurity for three-quarters of a century until its media breakthrough in late 2014. Its receipt of the World Monuments Fund/Knoll Modernism Prize for a recent renovation was covered by news outlets around the world, bringing the 1935 building previously unseen levels of attention and scrutiny.
This renaissance is nothing less than extraordinary. Abandoned for over a decade and allowed to fall into complete disrepair, the building was once so forgotten that many believed it had actually been demolished.  For decades, architects studied Aalto’s project only in drawings and prewar black-and-white photographs, not knowing whether the original was still standing, and if it was, how it was being used. Its transformation from modern icon to deserted relic to architectural classic is a tale of political intrigue, warfare, and the perseverance of a dedicated few who saved the building from ruin.