Ever wonder about which buildings in America are the most important – in terms of history and design precedents? Well, in the new PBS special “10 Buildings That Changed America” you’ll learn which pieces of architecture have been the most influential in America’s history.

most important buildings in america

The 10 most important buildings in America: which have you visited?

Ted Mosby ( Josh Radnor on How I Met Your Mother) would be all over this.

The special is hosted by Geoffrey Baer, and will premiere on PBS on Sunday, May 12, 2013.

About the program:

Written and produced by Dan Protess and hosted by Geoffrey Baer, the program was shot on location from Massachusetts to Los Angeles, and features rare archival images, distinctive animation, and interviews with some of the nation’s most insightful historians and architects, including Frank Gehry and Robert Venturi.

10 Buildings That Changed America is a journey that takes viewers inside these groundbreaking works of art and engineering to reveal the shocking, funny, and even sad stories of how these buildings came to be.

Ultimately, the program is a journey inside the imaginations of a group of architects who dared to create these influential structures.

The Most Important Buildings in America

Virginia State Capitol, Richmond, VA (1788)

Designed by Thomas Jefferson and Charles-Louis Clérisseau, the Virginia State Capitol marked the beginning of the American tradition of modeling government buildings on Roman and Greek temples. Wikipedia says the building is 224 years old, and in the 60’s it became a national landmark.

Trinity Church, Boston, MA (1877)

H.H. Richardson’s Trinity Church was the first example of the architect’s Richardsonian Romanesque style, which was later used in churches and civic buildings across America. It was created to be an envelope for singer Rector Phillips Brooks. (You know him as the writer of “O Little Town of Bethlehem.”) Brooks once referred to the church as, “America’s glory forever.” Wikipedia says that Trinity is the only church in the United States and the only building in Boston that has been named as one of the “Ten Most Significant Buildings in the United States” by the American Institute of Architects otherwise known as the AIA. Fun fact: fans of the movie, The Boondocks Saints would recognize the interior of the church.

Wainwright Building, St. Louis, MO (1891)

It is also called the Wainwright State Office Building. Louis Sullivan’s Wainwright Building was not the first skyscraper, but it gave the modern, steel-frame skyscraper its form. Historian Tim Samuelson said that it “taught the skyscraper to soar.” Frank Llyod Wright called it “the very first human expression of a tall steel office-building as Architecture.”

Robie House, Chicago, IL (1910)

The Robie House is a National Historic Landmark and considered a masterpiece of Frank Lloyd Wright’s horizontal prairie style, which transformed the American home.

Highland Park Ford Plant, Highland Park, MI (1910)

Where the Model T was born! The Highland Park Ford Plant was the birthplace of the moving assembly line. Albert Kahn is the Jewish architect who created the design, even though Henry Ford was anti-Semitic.

Southdale Center, Edina, MN (1956)

Southdale Center was America’s first fully-enclosed, indoor shopping mall. Designed by Victor Gruen. There were 40,000 visitors on the first day the mall opened in the late 50’s.

Seagram Building, New York, NY (1958)

A classic NYC skyskraper.  There are 38 stories in this modern building. Mies van der Rohe’s Seagram Building was the model for modernist skyscrapers built across the country in the mid-20th Century: a black, glass box, set back on an open plaza.

Dulles International Airport, Chantilly, VA (1962)

Eero Saarinen’s Dulles International Airport was the first airport in the world designed exclusively for jets. It is one of the United States most busy airports.

Vanna Venturi House, Philadelphia, PA (1964)

The Vanna Venturi House is considered by many to be the first postmodern building. It was designed by Robert Venturi, for his Mother, Vanna. She wanted her entire daily routine to be able to be conducted all on one ground floor, so the main floor has the most rooms.

Walt Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles, CA (2003)

Frank Gehry’s striking and avant garde Walt Disney Concert Hall, home to the Los Angeles Philharmonic, is one of the most acoustically sophisticated music venues in the world. It has been spoofed in popular culture everywhere from The Simpsons to Alvin and the Chipmunks.


Photos: From Wikipedia Commons