To commemorate the 150-year anniversary of the American Institute of Architects, the organization polled "1,800 Americans naming their 150 favorite structures across the nation based on nominations from AIA member architects." At first glance the results are an odd bunch, ranging from obvious choices like the first place Empire State Building to perhaps the least obvious choice, the Apple Store in SoHo.

To approach the list from a unique perspective, I decided to break out the buildings built post-1984, an arbitrary dividing line between Modern and contemporary, encapsulating some -- but not all -- of Postmodernism.
022: Bellagio Hotel and Casino (1998)
033: Rose Center for Earth and Space (2000)
053: Apple Store Fifth Avenue (2006)
057: Denver International Airport (1995)
059: Milwaukee Art Museum, Quadracci Pavilion (2001)
068: New York Times Building (2006)
069: Salt Lake City Public Library (2003)
070: Dolphin and Swan Hotels, Walt Disney World (1990)
071: Hearst Tower (1927 - 2006)
079: Reagan Building and Int'l Trade Center (1998)
082: Sofitel Chicago Water Tower (2002)
085: Harold Washington Library Center (1991)
095: J. Paul Getty Center for the Arts (1997)
097: Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse (2000)
098: Humana Building (1986)
099: Walt Disney Concert Hall (2003)
101: Paul Brown Stadium (2000)
102: United Airlines Terminal, O'Hare (1988)
104: AT&T Park (San Francisco Giants Stadium) (2000)
105: Time Warner Center (2003)
108: Seattle Public Library (2004)
109: Museum of Modern Art (1995)
117: Walker Art Center (2005)
118: American Airlines Center (2001)
121: San Francisco International Terminal (2000)
122: Oriole Park at Camden Yards (1992)
124: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (1993)
129: Weisman Art Museum (1990)
133: Royalton Hotel (1988)
135: Safeco Field (1999)
141: Apple SoHo (2002)
Rather than trying to tackle the qualitative aspects of this 31-member list, which is all over the place, I'll let you draw your own conclusions from this quantitative breakdown:

1-25: 1
26-50: 1
51-75: 7
76-100: 7
101-125: 11
126-150: 4
East Coast: 11
West Coast: 9
In-between: 11
Civic/Institutional: 5
Commercial: 7
Cultural: 8
Hotel: 3
Sports: 5
Transport: 3
Architects (origin):
Africa: 0
Asia: 0
Australia: 0
Europe: 8
Latin America: 0
North America: 23
Architects (repeats):
2 - Bohlin Cywinski Jackson
2 - Frank Gehry
2 - Michael Graves
2 - Hellmuth, Obata + Kassabaum
2 - Richard Meier
2 - NBBJ
2 - Pei Cobb Freed & Partners
2 - Skidmore, Owings & Merrill
Architects (Pritzkers, in order of winning*):
Ieoh Ming Pei (079 & 124)
Richard Meier (095 & 097)
Frank Gehry (099 & 129)
Renzo Piano (068)
Norman Foster (071)
Rem Koolhaas (108)
Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron (117)
*22 Pritzker winners are not represented in the AIA list.
Update 02/09: I modified the list above after realizing that some of the dates on the AIA list main page are incorrect; two Meier buildings have been added.

Here's some commentaries on the AIA:150 list:
Chicago Tribune (Blair Kamin)
Wall Street Journal, including a great sortable table view of the list (Alex Frangos)
Time Magazine (Richard Lacayo)


  1. Thanks for taking the time to break this out and provide the figures for analysis. I was wondering about some of these things. I wonder if time has anything to do with this. Rather than understanding the figures to mean that people aren't interested in the post-modern structures (comparatively speaking), maybe people have just had more time to know the older buildings. They're more familiar with them??

  2. A huge part of this survey are the words "based on nominations from AIA member architects." Now, I'm not sure if the AIA members chose the 150 buildings or had a much larger pool from which the 1,800 chose, but I'm guessing the latter.

    How the surveyed ranked recent buildings says a few things, mainly that they're not too sure about them. The fact that the Sofitel is just above the Harold Washington -- two VERY differently styled buildings in the same city -- indicates some confusion or disparity on appreciating contemporary buildings.

    That a casino is the highest ranked building could mean many things, but I couple it along with the high ranking of D.C. buildings like the White House and the Capitol: people like things they visit, go inside, experience. Most Americans do that with our nation's capital; a lot of people these days do it with Vegas as well as ballparks and stadiums. But how many people have been to the Weisman in Minneapolis? Probably very few, though it's got Gehry's name tag, so it made the list.

  3. According to Blair Kamin's critique, the respondents chose from 248 buildings.


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