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  • Writer's pictureKathryn Van Dinh

Building USA

The MEL/ARCH team wishes everyone a happy and safe Fourth of July! With your day off, we hope you get the chance to relax and work on your summer tans. In honor of the holiday, we wanted to share some facts about some of the most iconic architecture made in the USA. If you haven’t visited them yet, you should start planning your road trip soon!

The White House - James Hoban, 1800, Washington D.C

This iconic American building has been seen across all forms of media, from the news to movies. Our first president George Washington selected the location and the original architect for the White House, but he is the only president to never live in it. The building has a Neoclassical design and is thought to be influenced by the Leinster House in Dublin. The original building took eight years to build but has gone through a number of renovations and additions over the years. The famed Oval Office, for example, was added in 1909 during an expansion of the West Wing. You can get a tour, but you do have to plan ahead to get a spot.

Empire State Building - Shreve, Lamb, and Harmon, 1931, New York

Even before appearing in King Kong, the Empire State Building has been a prominent building in American culture. After construction finished, its height of 1,454 ft famously stole the title of tallest building in the World from the Chrysler Building. It held this title until1970, when the World Trade Center was built. This beautiful 102 story building embodies the Art Deco style, especially if you look closely at the facades or see the iconic lobby. If you can overcome a fear of heights, this is definitely a destination to check out when you are in the Big Apple.

Gateway Arch - Eero Saarinen, 1965, St. Louis, Missouri

At first glance, you wouldn’t think this was a building, but the Gateway Arch is actually the tallest accessible building in the state! The arch is a monument to the westward expansion of the United States. The monument was presented in a design competition in 1945, where Saarinen’s team won with their elegant idea. This arch is technically and mathematically fascinating. (Take our word for it. The math looks pretty complicated.) You can take an elevator up to the top and look down to see the city and the river. Because of it triangular section, you do have to lean quite a ways to look out the windows. What an architectural and adrenaline rush!

Walt Disney Concert Hall - Frank Gehry, 2003, Los Angeles, California

This is a polarizing building. Some love and some hate its design, but it is unique and iconic all the same. The building is considered an example of deconstructive architecture, a style that turned away from rationality and symmetry. The sweeping facades were a challenge and required technology designed for aerospace and automative design to help model and visualize the forms. The actual concert hall breaks from tradition and doesn’t have any balconies or private boxes. Seats are located on every side of the stage, so every seat is a good seat if you want to catch a Los Angeles Philharmonic concert!

Space Needle - John Graham & Co, 1961, Seattle, Washington

This icon was built for the 1962 World’s Fair. The building observation deck, 520ft above the ground, provides views of Elliot Bay, a number of mountains, and, of course, the Seattle Skylight. Surprisingly, the delicate looking structure was designed to withstand 200 mph winds and 9.0 magnitude earthquakes. In order to be complete for the World’s Fair, the building had crews working around the clock and was completed in 400 days. Graham had a concept of a flying saucer tower that led to the revolving aspect to the building, so if you think it looks like a flying saucer, it's supposed to!

From coast to coast, Happy Fourth of July Everyone!

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