10 Buildings That Changed America: Honorable Mentions

Last night, PBS aired a special titled “10 Buildings that Changed America.” The featured buildings included: Virginia State Capitol, Richmond; Trinity Church, Boston; Wainwright Building, St. Louis; Robie House, Chicago; Highland Park Ford Plant, Highland Park, Michigan; Southdale Center, Edina, Minnesota; Seagram Building, New York; Dulles International Airport, Chantilly, Virginia; Vanna Venturi House, Philadelphia; and the Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles.

Immediately, I was surprised by a few of the selections. 7 of the 10 are from the 20th century, with 5 of the 10 from the second half of the 20th century. I thought I’d give a few “honorable mentions” to those buildings I feel worthy of this list – I feel they played an integral role in changing the architectural landscape of the United States.

Smithsonian Institution Building (the Castle), James Renwick, Jr., Completed 1855 (Photo: Raina Regan)
Smithsonian Institution Building (the Castle), James Renwick, Jr., Completed 1855 (Photo: Raina Regan)

The Smithsonian Institution Building (the Castle)
Renwick’s Smithsonian Building, an elaborate Greek Revival/Romanesque structure, provided an inspiration to many public buildings in the mid to late 19th century. The sandstone building, very dramatic and monumental, was an innovative and influential building of its time.

First Christian Church, Columbus, Indiana, Eliel Saarinen, 1942
First Christian Church, Columbus, Indiana, Eliel Saarinen, 1942 (Photo: Raina Regan)

First Christian Church, Columbus, Indiana
Eliel Saarinen’s First Christian Church from 1942 is one of the first church buildings designed in the Modern style in the United States. Dating from 1942, the First Christian Church also served as the “first” architect designed, high style, Modern design found in Columbus. The New York Times recently profiled the magnificent architectural story in Columbus and should help prove the influence of this particular building.

For those that watched the PBS special or those with an interest in architecture, what other buildings do you believe changed America?

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