Architecture is shaped by politics, culture and society. A building is an iconic representation of the people that constructed it.
A beautifully constructed building is so much more than just a facade. Architectural styles are often determined by unique factors and aesthetic preferences of their time. Seeing buildings from years past, you can learn something about those eras, including the values of the people and maybe even events that shaped their world.
Below, we’ve listed some of the world’s most well-known and recognizable architectural feats throughout history.
Parthenon by Ictinus and Callicrates, Classic (432 BC)
The Parthenon was built around the year 430 by Ictinus and Callicrates as a symbol of power and wealth. It was designed to symbolize the culture of the ancient Greeks, and was the largest Doric temple ever constructed. The Parthenon was constructed following a Persian attack on the city, and was built to replace Pericles’ 490 BCE temple project. Today, the Parthenon is one of the most recognizable buildings ever constructed by the ancient Greeks.
Leaning Tower of Pisa by Bonanno Pisano, Romanesque (1372)
Constructed in white and gray striped marble, and presenting an impressive collection of columns and archest, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, surrounded by a bright green lawn, is a beautiful example of Romanesque architecture. Yet the tower is most famous for its incredible flaw: a plumbing deviation of 5.1 meters. Over the years, engineers and architects have tried many things to save the Leaning Tower. In recent years the structure has been stabilized and tourists are again allowed to go up in its belfry.
Santa Maria del Fiore by Filippo Brunelleschi, Gothic (1436)
This perfect example of Italian Gothic architecture was designed by some of the most famous architects of the age. For many people, this iconic building is representative of Florence itself, with its beautiful and colorful facade, and its large dome with a painted interior. The completion of this building spanned centuries, with the facade of the building being finished in the 19th century. Santa Maria del Fiore is perhaps most famous for its dome, which defines a part of the skyline of Florence.
San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane by Francesco Borromini, Baroque (1646)
At once playful and slightly surreal, the San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane by Francesco Borromini almost looks like a combination of the Gothic and Romanesque styles, but slightly bent and distorted, so that circles become ovals, and straight lines become curves. With a truly marvelous interior, the San Carlo alle Quattro includes lines that are both concave and convex, designs that are simple and yet complex. It is a truly astonishing example of the Baroque style.
U.S. Capitol Building by William Thornton, Neoclassical (1813)
The U.S. Capitol building was designed by William Thornton as a part of a competition. Dr. Thornton’s design was a building with two wings (one for the senate and one for the house of representatives), and a dome in the center. The cornerstone of the building was laid by George Washington. The building was partially destroyed during the war of 1812 and had to be reconstructed. Major construction work continued on the building for decades after it was complete, to accommodate various changes taking place in the government and also modern inventions like elevators and electric lighting.
Chrysler Building by William van Alen, Art Deco (1930)
The Chrysler Building was at one time the world’s tallest building, although it was eventually superseded by the Empire State Building. The Chrysler Building was constructed in art deco style at a time when large buildings in New York were being built almost in competition to build the tallest and most magnificent structures.
Fallingwater House by Frank Lloyd Wright, Modern (1935)
Fallingwater House is notable for its integration into the surrounding landscape, and for its dynamic structure. Fallingwater House was built to be a summer home for Liliane and Edgar Kauffman, but is now a museum. It is appreciated for its nod to Japanese architecture, which puts man and nature together.
Architecture transforms our world from one generation to the next. Learn more about architecture and its effect on our world at the online architecture school with Academy of Art University, where you can gain the skills necessary to create beautiful buildings like these above. Academy of Art University’s online architecture degree includes classes such as history of architecture and architecture theory, which can help you understand the meaning of architecture in our world.
Online or virtual on-site summer and fall classes are available for enrollment at Academy of Art University. Request information and let our admissions representatives help you come up with a decision for your future. Once you’ve made the decision to join, apply now to get started on your application.
Hero image courtesy of Curbed NY