These days it seems increasingly rare that we take a moment out of our busy schedules to pause and appreciate our surroundings: downtown skyscrapers, grand civic buildings, or the mundane background buildings along our streets. To many, those soaring steel towers are old news, but have you ever stopped to picture a Manhattan without skyscrapers, or a courthouse in Washington, DC that didn’t resemble a Greek or Roman temple, or how about an America without shopping malls? (Unimaginable. Right?)
Dan Protress, writer and producer of the new PBS television series 10 Buildings that Changed America, certainly has. The series, hosted by Emmy-award winning producer Geoffrey Baer, proves that architecture is the cultural back-bone of any society. The show was created to celebrate and explore ten of the most influential American buildings—and the architect’s that designed them—that dramatically altered the architectural landscape of this country.
Featuring buildings like Frank Lloyd Wright’s Robie House in Chicago, which transformed the idea of the American home, the Southdale Center in Edina, MN, the nation’s first enclosed shopping-center, and the Wainright Building in St. Louis, which, according to historian Tim Samuelson, “taught the skyscraper to soar,” the series delves into the history of these once radically perceived buildings and highlights the roles they have played in molding present-day American society.
The Society of Architectural Historians, along with a group of architectural experts, has compiled a list of the ten most iconic and influential structures built by different architects ranging from various eras in American history:
1. Virginia State Capitol, Richmond, CA (1788)
2. Trinity Church, Boston, MA (1877)
3. Wainwright Building, St. Louis, MO (1891)
4. Robie House, Chicago, IL (1910)
5. Highland Park Ford Plant, Highland Park, MI (1910)
6. Southdale Center, Edina, MN (1956)
7. Seagram Building, New York, NY (1958)
8. Dulles International Airport, Chantilly, VA (1962)
9. Vanna Venturi House, Philadelphia, PA (1964)
10. Walt Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles, CA (2003)
The show is scheduled to air on Sunday, May 12, 2013 at 10:00 p.m. EST. Tune in and discover the pioneering architectural leaders, breakthrough concepts, groundbreaking buildings, and touching stories that make up the architectural history of the United States. Who knows, you might just be tempted to take a moment out of that busy schedule to admire your surroundings.
All images courtesy Wikimedia Commons.