America’s Top Ten Buildings?
May 11, 2012
America’s “greatest” building–Virginia State Capitol by Thomas Jefferson
PBS/WTTW Chicago have released their top ten list for the buildings that have changed the face of America. The list is part of the build up for a new media production planned for next year that will devote time and exegesis to the history, construction, and influence attributed to each of the canonical structures. PBS has done their homework, but it also isn’t the first time the network has made such a compilation. The list doesn’t offer any surprises–it’s relatively conservative and unimaginative, which is fine as every one of the buildings noted here deserving of the recognition.
The list is confined to domestic projects, institutions, places of commerce, and corporate headquarters; there are no museums or educational structures to be found, and just one edifice of industry.
#2: Trinity Church by H.H. Richardson
Yet there are some structures that are conspicuously missing. Where’s Pruitt-Igoe? Or the Dodger Stadium or the totality of Disneyland, both of which first posited and subsequently popularized the parking lot as a legitimate architectural typology. Surely the identikit structures of the McDonald’s franchise, in both their earlier Googie and later “single family home” iterations, should have been given consideration. Also left out, the U.N. Building, which preceded the Seagram Building and set the tone for the monolithic, glazed Manhattan towers to come. (Note: as has been theorized before, had Le Corbusier won and the tower been garbed with brise-soleil, the city skyline may have turned out quite differently.) No love for Louis Kahn, while the Vanna Venuri house gets thrown into the lot as the token pomo project.
And where are the data centers?
#8: Dulles International Airport by Eero Saarinen; Photo via jfk50