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News May 2013

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10 Buildings That Changed America—and most of them are Modern

May 14, 2013

On Sunday May 12 PBS aired its new national television special 10 Buildings That Changed America. The show features ten buildings, selected in consultation with historians and architects from across the country, that influenced the way Americans live and work—and travel and shop. We know the Modern movement was a game changer so it’s not surprising that seven of the ten buildings are in our camp. Louis Sullivan’s Wainwright Building (1891) and Albert Kahn’s Highland Park Ford Plant (1910) can be considered important precursors to the rise of a distinctly American Modern architecture, as can Frank Lloyd Wright’s Robie House (1910). Making the list from the postwar period are: Victor Gruen’s Southdale Center Mall (1956), Mies van der Rohe’s Seagram Building (1958), Eero Saarinen’s Dulles International Airport (1962) and Robert Venturi’s Vanna Venturi House (1964). 

The show was produced by WTTW in Chicago in partnership with the Society of Architectural Historians. Hosted by Geoffrey Baer, who is well known for his features on Chicago architecture and history, the show pulls together new videography, rare archival images, animation and interviews with key figures. An excellent website with building slideshows and more accompanies the show. Visit the site to watch the full 55-minute program. Or if you’re curious to know the other three buildings that changed America.

Host Geoffrey Baer with Denise Scott Brown and Robert Venturi outside the Vanna Venturi House in Chestnut Hill, PA. Photo: courtesy WTTW 11/Chicago