View of Chicago from Willis Tower. Photo: Andrew Horne
In addition to studio classes, lectures, art shows and actual work placements, every architecture student should take some time to travel. Domestic and foreign cities provide fantastic opportunities to experience architecture in a plethora of historical styles. No photographic image – still or video — can replace the impact, value and inspiration of experiencing great architecture in person. Architizer editors and students from the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada compiled the following bucket list of cities that every architecture student should visit:
Chicago — The Great Chicago Fire of 1871 paved the way for the modern skyscraper in the early 20th Century with the introduction of structural steel, elevators, windows and even air conditioning. Chicago became North America’s preeminent city of architecture with the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893 and the City Beautiful Movement, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Prairie-style homes, and then Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s Illinois Institute of Technology and other municipal structures, Frank Gehry’s Millennium Park, and the city’s famous skyscrapers including the Chicago Tribune Building, Willis Tower and Marina City apartments.
Havana — With Neoclassical and Baroque buildings lining streets filled with classic cars and minimal foreign investment for decades, Cubans maintained their vintage buildings in place rather than simply tearing them down. The result? An eclectic mix of 19th-century mansions and civic buildings, along with Art Deco residences and Corbusian apartment blocks. It’s an urban museum that may soon be lost to progress.
Barcelona – This port city has much to savor, including a wonderful portfolio of medieval buildings in the Barri Gòtic neighborhood as well as modern contemporary structures like the neighborhood of L’Eixample laid out in the late 19th century by planner Ildelfons Cerdà. You’ll also find the largest concentration of Modernista architecture in the world, by Lluís Domènech i Montaner and Josep Puig i Cadafalch. And then of course there is the incomparable Antoni Gaudi and his La Sagrada Família.
Toronto — This city of neighborhoods, each with a distinct character and the largest intact streetcar network in North America, is known for its downtown Art Deco masonry structures and the largest concentration of Victorian-era factories outside of England. This so-called Distillery District was recently restored and upgraded and is now a technology, design and shopping hub. In 1967, the Toronto Dominion Centre (Ludwig Mies van der Rohe) heralded the debut of Toronto on the global architectural stage. The city attracted numerous internationally-acclaimed architects such as Santiago Calatrava (Brookfield Place Galleria) I.M. Pei (Commerce Court), Fumihiko Maki (Aga Kahn Museum) and Daniel Libeskind.
Buffalo – Really? You may be surprised to learn that Buffalo is home to many great examples of American architecture that are surprisingly well-preserved. The city plan itself was inspired by Pierre Charles L’Enfant’s 1791 plan for Washington with radiating boulevards and an extensive park system designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, famed for New York City’s peerless Central Park. Once the 15th largest city in the United States, Buffalo was also another favorite building site for Frank Lloyd Wright (Darwin D. Martin House, Fontana Boathouse, Blue Sky Mausoleum and Graycliff country estate).
Brasília — The “newest” city on this list was founded in 1960 and was laid out in the jungle like an airplane by Lúcio Costa. Many of the government and civic buildings were designed by famed Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer. Examples of the wider Modernist movement include the Cathedral of Brasília, the National Congress Building, and the Museu Nacional (another Niemeyer). The Monumental Axis connects many of these landmarks through the entire city, representing the fuselage of the airplane in the layout by Costa which acts as a large public park and natural backdrop for the urban landscape