Burj Khalifa

Project Facts:

Architect: Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM)
Location: Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Building Type: Supertall skyscraper
Years of Construction: 2004 to 2010
Type of Construction: Reinforced concrete and steel
Area: 5.67 million sq.ft.
Height: 2,716.5 ft.
Stories: 160+ stories

Described as both a 'Vertical City' and 'A Living Wonder', Burj Khalifa, at the heart of downtown Dubai, is also the world's tallest building.

Developed by Dubai-based Emaar Properties PJSC, Burj Khalifa rises gracefully from the desert and honors the city with its extraordinary union of art, engineering and meticulous craftsmanship.

At 2,716.5 ft. (828 m), the equivalent of a 200-story building, Burj Khalifa has 160 habitable levels, the most of any building in the world. The tower was inaugurated on January 4, 2010, to coincide with the fourth anniversary of the Accession Day of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

Arguably the world's most interesting construction project, Burj Khalifa is responsible for a number of world firsts. The tower became the world's tallest man-made structure just 1,325 days after excavation work started in January 2004.

Burj Khalifa utilized a record-breaking 430,000 cubic yds. (330,000 m3) of concrete; 42,990 tons (39,000 metric tons) of steel reinforcement: 1.1 million sq. ft. (103,000 m2) of glass; and 167,000 sq. ft. (15,500 m2) of embossed stainless steel. The tower took 22 million man-hours to build.

With a total built-up area of 5.67 million sq. ft. (526,000 m2), Burj Khalifa features 1.85 million sq. ft. (170,000 m2) of residential space, over 300.000 sq. ft. (28,000 m2) of office space, with the remaining area occupied by a luxury hotel. In 2003, as a result of an international design competition, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM) was selected from a group of five international competitors to carry out the architecture and engineering of the Burj Khalifa.

With famous architecture in the Haj Terminal at Jeddah Airport and National Commercial Bank, SOM is no stranger to Middle Eastern design. SOM incorporated patterns and elements from traditional lslamic architecture, but the most inspiring muse was a regional desert flower, the Hymenocallis, whose harmonious structure is one of the organizing principles of the tower's design. Three 'petals' are arranged in a triangular shape and unified at the center. and instead of repeated identical patterns. the architectural plan appoints successively receding and rotated stories.

The Y-shaped plan is ideal for residential and hotel usage, with the wings allowing maximum outward views and inward natural light. Viewed from above or from the base, the tips of the Y-shaped plan evoke the onion domes of lslamic architecture. During the design process, engineers rotated the building 120 degrees from its original layout to reduce stress from prevailing winds.

Architecturally, the building transforms itself from a solid base expression to a vertically expressed middle section of polished stainless steel. projected meta! fins, and glass. Only vertical elements were used here. as the fine dust in Dubai's air would build up on any horizontal projecting elements.

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

Project Facts:

Architect: Frank Lloyd Wright
Location: New York City
Building Type: Art Museum
Years of Construction: 1943-1959, 1992
Type of Construction: Reinforced Poured Concrete
Area: 51,000 sq. ft. of gallery space

The commission for the museum building first came to Wright in 1943 from Hilla Rebay. The Baroness von Rebay was the curator of the 'non-objective' painting collection she had encouraged Solomon R. Guggenheim to purchase. Solomon R. Guggenheim desired an architectural environment in which to present these new works that would be as revolutionary as the paintings in his collection themselves.

Guggenheim was always supportive of Wright, but his death in 1949, just six years alter the project was begun, dealt a severe blow to the plans. lt took thirteen years of patient struggle on the part of Wright to finally see his building start in construction, end even through the construction stages - from 1956 to his death in 1959, six months before the museum opened - the struggle waged on. During the sixteen years that this commission dragged on, it was to prove to be the most difficult end the most time-consuming of all Wright's work.

The building that stands in New York today is very different from those early studies of 1944. The general concept of the building - one continuous ramp - remains, but with the acquisition of more parcels of property on the site end with the change of the program of the museum itself, different architectural solutions were required along the way. Seven complete sets of working drawings were prepared end finally, on August 16, 1955, ground was broken end construction began."

When the corner et 88th Street was acquired in 1951, the spiral ramp was shifted back to the south. After this last shift was made, Wright, in response to the changing administrative requirements of the museum, suggested the construction of a tall building behind the museum for a historical gallery, staff offices, workrooms, and storage. Rising behind the museum would be an eleven-story structure. lt was this 1951 design by Wright that served as precedent for the 1992 addition of a "backdrop" building behind the museum.

Farnsworth House

Project Facts:

Architect: Mies van der Rohe
Location: Plano, Kendall County, Illinois, USA
Building Type: House. One-room weekend retreat
Years of Construction: 1945-1951
Materials: Steel & Glass
Floor Area: 1,585-square feet (140 m2)

One of Mies van der Rohe's most famous aphorisms was “less is more”. For many, the architecture of Farnsworth House represents the ultimate refinement of his minimalist beliefs.

It was designed and constructed between 1945 and 1951 as a one room weekend retreat, located in a once-rural setting, 55 miles (89 km) southwest of Chicago on a 60-acre (240,000 m2) estate adjoining the Fox River, in the city of Plano, Illinois. The steel and glass house was commissioned by Dr. Edith Farnsworth, a prominent Chicago medical specialist, as a place where she could engage in her hobbies: playing the violin, translating poetry, and enjoying nature. Farnsworth was highly intelligent, articulate, and intent on building a very special work of modern architecture. Her instructions for Mies were to design the house as if it were for himself.

Mies created a 1,585-square-foot (140 m2) house that is now widely recognized as an iconic masterpiece of the International Style of architecture. The home was designated a National Historic Landmark in 2006 after being added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2004. It is currently owned and run as a house museum by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Like many Modernists, Mies worshiped the technology-driven modern era he lived in, but also believed that reconnecting the individual with nature was one of the greatest challenges faced by an urbanized society.

With this in mind, Mies conceived Farnsworth House as an indoor outdoor architectural shelter simultaneously independent of and intertwined with the nature around it. The simple elongated cubic form of the house runs parallel to the flow of the river and is anchored to the site in the cooling shadow of a large and majestic black maple tree. To underline the strong connection with nature, the house was deliberately built on the flood plain near the river’s edge instead of on the flood-free upland portions of the site.

The essential characteristics of the house are immediately apparent. The extensive use of clear floor-to-ceiling glass opens the interior to its natural surroundings to an extreme degree. Two distinctly expressed horizontal slabs, which form the roof and the floor, sandwich an open space for living. The slab edges are defined by exposed steel structural members painted pure white. The house is elevated five feet three inches (1.60 m) above the flood plain by eight steel columns, which are attached to the sides of the floor and ceiling slabs. The end of the slabs extend beyond the column supports, creating cantilevers. The house seems to float weightlessly above the ground it occupies. A third floating slab, an attached terrace, acts as a transition between the living area and the ground. The house is accessed by two sets of wide steps connecting the ground to the terrace and then to the porch. As was often the case with Mies’ designs, the entrance is located on the sunny side, facing the river instead of the access road.

The interior appears to be one large room filled with freestanding elements. The space is sub-divided but not partitioned, and flows around two wood blocks that Mies called “cores,” one a wardrobe cabinet and the other a kitchen, toilet, and fi replace block. The larger fireplace-kitchen core appears almost as a separate house nestling within the larger glass house. The materials used are quietly luxurious – travertine floors, primavera paneling and silk curtains – and the detailing minimal and meticulous.

On its completion, Farnsworth House received accolades in the architectural press, which resulted in many uninvited visitors trespassing on the property to glimpse the latest Mies work of art. Unfortunately, Mies and Edith Farnsworth had a falling out over the costs, which had almost doubled the final costs, and the bitter dispute was only resolved after a long and very public court case.

Though she continued to use her weekend retreat for almost 20 years, Edith Farnsworth often felt intimidated by the openness of the building. Other complaints included the costs of heating the house and constantly rusting pillars.

For some critics, Farnsworth House™ represents the disconnect between Modernist architecture and the reality of its users’ lives. Nevertheless, the timeless quality of this house is still regarded with reverent fascination by new generations of architects and designers around the world.

Imperial Hotel

Project Facts:

Architect: Frank Lloyd Wright
Location: Tokyo, Japan
Building Type: Hotel; 250 Rooms, 5 Ballrooms 10 Banquetrooms.
Years of Construction: 1916-1923
Materials: Reinforced Concrete & Brick
Floor Area: 34,765m2 (114,058,399 sq.ft.)

The original Imperial Hotel was a three-story, wooden Victorian-style structure built across the avenue from the Emperor’s palace. It opened in 1890 and was the only European-style hotel in the country at that time. By 1915 the hotel was no longer able to accommodate the growing numbers of visitors and it was decided to replace the out-dated building with a new modern hotel.

Looking for a western architect who could bridge the cultural divide between East and West, the hotel’s owners commissioned Frank Lloyd Wright to design and build the new Imperial Hotel. In many ways Wright was the perfect choice for the task. He had long been fascinated with Japanese culture, especially after his first visit to the country in 1905, and had become an avid collector of Japanese prints.

Wright was glad to spend a great deal of time in Tokyo working on the project that consumed his attention, off and on, from 1916 to 1922. His goal from the outset was to design a building that would appeal to many and genuinely respect the Japanese culture.

The 250 room hotel was designed roughly in the shape of its own logo, with the guest room wings forming the letter “H”, while the public rooms were in a smaller but taller central wing shaped like the letter “I” that cut through the middle of the “H”. The visual effect of the planned design would be both stunning and dramatic.

Wright worked on the Imperial Hotel with 18 to 20 Japanese draftsmen, the only other foreigner apart from himself being Paul Mueller, an experienced builder from Chicago.

One of the major concerns during the initial design and construction process was how to safeguard the building from the many earthquakes that occurred in the area. Wright had noted that Japanese architects, trained by centuries of natural disasters, always "built lightly on the ground."

With between 18m and 21m (60-70 ft.) of alluvial mud beneath the 2.4m (8 ft.) of surface soil, it would be impossible to obtain the rigidity needed for traditional foundations. Instead his idea was to float the building upon the mud using shallow, broad footings. This would allow it—in Wright’s terms—"to balance like a tray on a waiter’s fingertips"

Other design features to combat the threat caused by earthquakes included cantilevered floors and balconies to provide extra support, seismic separation joints every 20m (65.6 ft.) along the building, tapered walls that were thicker on the lower floors, plus the consistent use of smooth curves which were more resistant to fracture.

The main building materials used were reinforced poured concrete and brick, while the choice of soft volcanic Oya stone enabled the extensive carving of elaborate ornamental carving and decoration. Wright was particularly impressed by the craftsmanship of the Japanese stonemasons. So much so he modified many of his original decorative concepts to make the most of their talents.

Furnishings were exquisite. Furniture was designed for specific seating areas and the restaurants. Oya stone carvings in the shape of peacocks and other intricate patterns adorned the walls; ceilings were hand painted or embellished in gold leaf on both interior and exterior wall surfaces. Over a hundred specially designed abstract, geometric, patterned rugs and carpets were created by Wright so they could be easily woven in China. The new Imperial Hotel opened on September 1st 1923. The same day a massive earthquake would rock Tokyo and the surrounding area. Wright was in Los Angeles at the time and it would be ten long days of conflicting reports before it was confirmed that hotel still stood. Indeed, thanks to Wright’s unique design features, it would be one of the few buildings to survive the quake.

By 1968, the Wright designed Imperial Hotel had survived several earthquakes, a growing Japanese population, and increased pollution which had deteriorated some of the intricate Oya stone carvings and other decorative details of this masterpiece. Thousands of hotel guests had stayed, visited, or attended grand events held at the hotel.

Current management made a most difficult and controversial decision to demolish this iconic Japanese landmark to make way for a newer and larger multi-story structure. However, the main entrance and lobby wing were carefully dismantled and rebuilt at the Meiji Mura Museum and can be seen in Nogoya, Japan.

Brandenburg Gate

Project Facts:

Architect: Carl Gotthard Langhans
Location: Berlin, Germany
Building Type: Celebratory Gate
Years of Construction: 1788-1791
Materials: Sandstone

The Brandenburg Gate The Brandenburg Gate (in German: Brandenburger Tor) is one of Berlin’s most important monuments–an architectural landmark and historical symbol all in one. It has been at the heart of German and European history for over two hundred years.

Commissioned by King Frederick William II of Prussia as a sign of peace, it was built as the grandest of a series of 18 city gates through which Berlin was once entered. The entire construction and ornamentation of the Gate reflected its extraordinary importance as the monumental entry to Unter den Linden, the renowned boulevard of linden trees, which formerly led directly to the city palace of the Prussian monarchs.

The Gate was constructed between 1788 and 1791 according to the designs of its architect, Carl Gotthard Langhans. His inspiration for the building came from the Propylaea in Athens, the monumental entry hall of the Acropolis. Just as the Propylaea led to a shrine of the ancient world, the Brandenburg Gate was to represent the access to the most important city of the Prussian kingdom. With its direct reference to antiquity, the gate founded the Classic age of architecture in Berlin, an epoch that soon led the city to be called “Athens of the Spree” (in German: Spreeathen), after the river that runs through it.

The Gate itself is built in sandstone and consists of twelve Doric columns, six to each side, forming five passageways. Citizens originally were allowed to use only the outermost two, the central passageway being reserved for Prussian royalty and visiting foreign dignitaries.

Atop the gate is the Quadriga, a chariot drawn by four horses driven by Victoria, the Roman goddess of victory. It was created by Johann Gotfried Schadow, the most important sculptor in Berlin during this period. The relief on the pedestal portrays Victoria together with a number of attendants who personi- fied virtues such as friendship and statesmanship. Along with symbols of arts and sciences, these were seen as vital components ensuring the city would bloom in times of peace. Down in the passageways, reliefs depicting the exploits of Hercules alluded to the time of the War and the subsequent period of reconstruction, during which time King Frederick William II had made Prussia into a true European power.

Though the Brandenburg Gate has remained essentially unchanged since its completion, it has had a central role in many of Europe’s most monumental historical events. In 1806, Napoleon marched triumphantly into Berlin and carried the Quadriga away with him to Paris as a spoil of war. After Napoleon’s defeat in 1814 and the Prussian occupation of Paris, the Quadriga was restored to Berlin and Victoria’s wreath of oak leaves was supplemented with a new symbol of Prussian power, the Iron Cross. In 1933 the National Socialists marched through the gate in a martial torch parade, introducing the darkest chapter of German history, ultimately leaving the city in ruins and Germany divided.

When Berlin was partitioned after World War II, the center of the city fell into the Soviet sector, which met the British sector at the Brandenburg Gate. After a series of demonstrations against the building of the Berlin Wall, the Soviets closed the Brandenburg Gate on August 14th, 1961. It remained closed until December 22nd, 1989, when the wall fell and East and West Berlin were unified once again.

Throughout this turbulent period of history, the Brandenburg Gate had fallen into general disrepair. In 2000, the Berlin Monument Conservation Foundation (in German: Stiftung Denkmalschutz Berlin) began a full restoration of the Brandenburg Gate. It opened to the public again two years and six million US dollars later on October 3rd, 2002, the twelfth anniversary of German Reunification.

The Flatiron Building

Project Facts:

Architects: D. H. Burnham & Co: Daniel H. Burnham
Location: New York City, NY
Building Style: Renaissance Revival with Beaux-Arts styling
Years of Construction: 1899-1902
Materials: Steel frame structure, façade of limestone and terra-cotta
Height: 1902: 285 ft. (86.9 m). Today: 307 ft. (93 m).
Weight: 3,680 tons (3,338.5 metric tons)


As the city of New York expanded northward during the second half of the 19th century, small plots of land in between or on the edge of new buildings remained undeveloped. One of the most well known of these was the narrow triangular site at 23rd Street, between Fifth Avenue and Broadway. The “Flat Iron,” as it quickly became known, changed owners many times, but wouldn’t be developed until the Chicago-based Fuller Company bought the site in 1901.

The Fuller Company, a major Chicago-based contracting firm specializing in the construction of skyscrapers, planned to build a new showcase headquarter on the site. The founder of the company, George A. Fuller, had died the year before, and the new building would be named the Fuller Building in his honor.

The Fuller Company engaged Chicago architect Daniel H. Burnham to design the building and, utilizing the Fuller Company’s expertise with steel frame construction, he proposed a 20-story structure that would reach a height of 285 ft. (86.9 m). A penthouse would be added in 1905, increasing the building’s height to 307 ft. (93 m). The building’s Broadway front would be 190 ft. (60 m) wide, the Fifth Avenue front 173 ft. (52.7 m) wide, and the 22nd Street side just short of 87 ft. (26.5 m) wide. At the “point” of the triangle the building would only be 6.5 ft. (2 m) wide and would form a 25-degree acute angle.

Burnham saw the building as a vertical Renaissance palazzo with Beaux-Arts, or neoclassical, styling. Visually the building would be divided into three distinct sections. It would consist of a richly decorated, three-story limestone façade at the bottom and a broad, repetitive midsection in a light tan monochrome terra cotta. The structure would then be topped off with a crowning cornice that would run the entire length of the building.

With its steel skeleton structure, the construction of the building was carried out rapidly and without major incident. While other New York skyscrapers at the time were often thin towers rising from pedestal-like blocks, the Flatiron was a single massive structure. This radical design, combined with its great height and unusual shape, created a great deal of debate as the building neared completion in 1902.

Many New Yorkers believed the structure would be unstable and would fall over at the first gust of wind. The building had even been nicknamed “Burnham’s Folly” and bets were placed on how far the debris would reach when it blew over. Strong winds came and went, and the Flatiron Building withstood them—as it continues to do today, over a century later. It is proof that the structure was not only a strong architectural idea, but a groundbreaking engineering marvel as well.

The Building Today

Although never the tallest building in New York, or even the first building in the country with a triangular ground plan, the Flatiron Building remains an iconic symbol of the city of New York. Its enduring popularity with tourists, artists, and photographers also makes it one of the most photographed buildings in the world.

The famous building has appeared in countless movies, TV series, and comics. It was home to Peter Parker’s Daily Bugle in the Spiderman movies, and was even accidently destroyed by the U.S. Army in the 1998 film Godzilla.

The building was designated a New York City Landmark in 1966, added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1979, and became a National Historic Landmark in 1989. Valued today at $190 million, the Flatiron Building continues to function as a popular retail and office space, and is home to a large number of U.S. and international companies. In 2009, Sorgente Group of America acquired the majority stake of the Flatiron Building. Sorgente Group of America is the American Holding of Sorgente Group, an Italian real estate investment company.

Villa Savoye

Project Facts:

Architect: Le Corbusier & Pierre Jeanneret
Location: 82, Rue de Villiers, 78300 Poissy, France
Building Type: Country residence
Years of Construction: 1928-1931
Materials: Post/beam structure in Reinforced Concrete & Brick
Floor Area: 408 m2 (1338 ft.)

Lying on the outskirts of Paris, France, and completed in 1931, Villa Savoye was designed as a private country house by the Swiss-born architect, Le Corbusier. It quickly became one of the most influential buildings in the International style of architecture and cemented Le Corbusier’s reputation as one of the most important architects of the 20th century.

When the construction of Villa Savoye began in 1928, Le Corbusier was already an internationally known architect. His book Vers une Architecture (Towards a New Architecture) had been translated into several languages, while his work on the Centrosoyuz Building in Moscow, Russia, had brought him into contact with the Russian avant-garde. As one of the first members of the Congrès International d’Architecture Moderne (CIAM), he was also becoming known as an important and vocal champion of modern architecture. Villa Savoye would be the last in a series of white “Purist villas” designed and constructed by Le Corbusier and his cousin Pierre Jeanneret in and around the city of Paris during the 1920s. Encouraged by the Savoye family’s open brief, Le Corbusier ensured that the design of the house would become the physical representation of his ‘Total Purity’ ideals.

The villa was to be constructed according to the emblematic ‘Five Points’ Le Corbusier had developed as guiding principles for his modernist architectural style:

  1. Pilotis, such as columns or pillars, which elevate the building and allow an extended continuity of the garden beneath.
  2. Functional roof, serving as a garden and terrace, reclaiming for nature the land occupied by the building.
  3. Open floor plan relieved of load-bearing walls, allowing walls to be placed freely and only where aesthetically needed.
  4. Long horizontal windows, providing illumination and ventilation.
  5. Freely designed façades, serving as only as a skin of the wall and windows and unconstrained by load-bearing considerations.

While the implementation of Le Corbusier’s ‘Five Points’ would complicate the building process and, later, create a number of practical issues for the Savoye family, the result remains a stunning fusion between modern architecture and the surrounding nature in which it is placed. Villa Savoye became one of the most influential buildings of the 1930s, spawning imitations all over the world, and it continues to be a true architectural icon 80 years later.

Villa Savoye was commissioned as a private country residence by Pierre and Emilie Savoye in 1928. They came from a wealthy Parisian family that ran a large and successful insurance company and owned land in the town of Poissy, 30 km (18.6 miles) to the west of Paris. The land upon which they intended to build was a sloping meadow, surrounded by forest and with a magnificent view of the River Seine. Apart from the number of rooms required and the wish for all the latest technical fittings befitting a modern home, Le Corbusier noted that his clients were: ‘quite without preconceptions, either old or new’ and only had a vague idea of what their future country house should look like.

Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret quickly went to work and by mid-October 1928 were able to present a detailed sketch of their idea. The first scheme underwent several modifications, resulting in four subsequent sets of drawings. Two of these—the second and third—differed from the first, while the final two drawings returned to the initial ideas of the first sketches, but decreased the overall size to reduce costs.

The primary design principles were relatively clear: the building would occupy a strategic position in the centre of the site and the views would be further maximized by means of pillars which would raise the house by one level. Unlike his earlier town villas Le Corbusier was able to carefully design all four sides of the Villa Savoye in response to the view and the orientation of the sun. On the ground floor he placed the main entrance hall, the ramp and the stairs, the garage, and rooms for the chauffeur and maids. On the first floor were the master bedroom, a bedroom for the Savoyes’ child, a guest bedroom, kitchen, living-room and external terraces. The living-room was orientated towards the northwest, while the terrace faced south. The son’s bedroom faced southeast, and the kitchen and service terrace were on the northeastern side. On the second floor level there were a series of sculpted spaces that formed a solarium.

The ramp

The visitor enters the house through the glass and white-walled entrance hall. Four columns appear to direct the visitor towards the double-flight ramp that can be seen from almost anywhere in the house.

The stair

A circular stair with a solid baluster winds its way up through the core of the building. It also provides access to the villa’s two cellars.

The kitchen

‘The kitchen is not precisely the sanctuary of the house, but it is certainly one of the most important places. The kitchen and living room—these are the rooms which are lived in.’

The living room

Conceived as an unbroken space, this 86m2 (925.7 sq. ft.) area is the main room in the house. Huge glazed panels open out onto the garden terrace.

The bathroom

The bathroom in the master apartment contains one of the Villa’s special features: a rectangular bath clad in 5 cm x 5 cm (1.96 inches) turquoise blue ceramic tiles. A concrete reclining ‘chaise-long’ at the edge of the bath is based on earlier furniture designs that Le Corbusier had worked upon.

The hanging garden

"The real garden of the dwelling will not be on ground level, but raised 3.5 m above. This will be the hanging garden and it is from this area that we will survey the entire landscape."


Although an architectural purist, Le Corbusier was nevertheless a strong supporter of polychromy—the art of combining colors. ‘Man needs color. Color is the immediate, spontaneous expression of life.’ The exterior of Villa Savoye is predominantly white, but two side-walls of the garage and the servant quarters are painted dark green to create empathy with the surrounding lawn.

Although of seemingly simple design, Villa Savoye proved to be extremely complex from a construction perspective. While Le Corbusier was experimenting with new concepts both on a functional and formal level, those contracted to build the house were still entrenched in traditional skills and techniques. This led to a series of disagreements, delays and cost overruns that would hamper the entire project.

Additional costs were also caused by the fact that although Le Corbusier always advocated the use of standard industry components, almost every element for Villa Savoye had to be customized and created in situ. From an estimated price of 787,000 francs in 1929, the total building costs had risen to approximately 900,000 francs by 1931.

The Savoye family took possession of the house in 1931 but abandoned it during World War II, leaving it to be commandeered by both the German and American armies. At the end of the war, with the Savoyes no longer in a position to maintain it, the town of Poissy took control of the villa. In 1958 they eventually expressed a wish to expropriate the villa completely with a view to demolishing it. Only a vigorous international campaign by the architect fraternity and the intervention of Le Corbusier halted this plan.

In 1965 the villa was added to the French register of historical monuments, the first example of modernist architecture to be included. Various restoration projects were carried out to safeguard the building, the largest one, a state-funded process, taking place between 1985 and 1997, which reinstated many of the original fittings.

It is impossible to ignore the influence Villa Savoye has had on modern international architecture, and the house, which is open to the public, continues to be a magnet for those wishing to experience at first hand the work of Le Corbusier.

United Nations Headquarters

Project Facts:

Architects: International team, lead by Wallace K. Harrison, and including Le Corbusier and Oscar Niemeyer
Location: Manhattan, New York City, NY
Building Style: Modernist, international
Years of Construction: 1947-1949
Materials: Aluminum, glass & Vermont marble
Footprint: 17 acres (69,000m2)

Standing on the eastern shore of Manhattan, on the banks of New York City’s East River, the United Nations Headquarters has become an acclaimed modernist architectural landmark. In an ambitious attempt to match the United Nations’ own spirit of international cooperation, it was created through the collaborative effort of a multinational team of leading architects that included, amongst others, Oscar Niemeyer and Le Corbusier.


The United Nations organization was officially formed in October 1945 as the Second World War came to an end. In December of that year, the Congress of the United States unanimously resolved to invite the United Nations to establish its permanent home in the USA. Thereafter, a special United Nations site committee studied possible locations in such places as Philadelphia, Boston and San Francisco.

While consideration was given to areas north of New York City, crowded Manhattan had not been seriously investigated. A last-minute offer of $8.5 million by John D. Rockefeller, Jr., for the purchase of the present site was accepted by a majority of the General Assembly in December 1946.

The site chosen by the United Nations was a 17 acre (69,000m2) run-down area of slaughterhouses, light industry and a railroad barge landing. Once the site was agreed upon, the next task was to design the Headquarters itself. Delegates decided that the United Nations home should be the joint project of leading architects from many countries. Wallace K. Harrison of the United States was appointed chief architect and given the title of Director of Planning. A ten-member Board of Design Consultants was selected to assist him, composed of architects nominated by member States.

The members of the Board were Nikolai G. Bassov (Soviet Union); Gaston Brunfaut (Belgium); Ernest Cormier (Canada); Charles-Edouard Jeanneret, better known as Le Corbusier (France); Liang Seu-Cheng (China); Sven Markelius (Sweden); Oscar Niemeyer (Brazil); Sir Howard Robertson (United Kingdom); G. A. Soilleux (Australia); and Julio Vilamajo (Uruguay). The Director and the Board began their work early in 1947 from an office in the Rockefeller Center. Some 50 basic designs were created,

Design & Construction

From the 50 designs evaluated by the Board, scheme 32, submitted by the Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer, was initially selected as the most interesting plan. Niemeyer’s original idea for the site included three structures standing free, with a fourth lying low behind them along the river’s edge. He chose to split the councils from the Assembly Hall, creating a grand public plaza in between the two areas.

The only board member who wasn’t completely won over by Niemeyer’s elegantly articulated composition was Swiss-born Le Corbusier. His design, scheme nr 23, had proposed a single block in the center of the site containing both the Assembly Hall and the different councils.

Le Corbusier approached Niemeyer and suggested repositioning the Assembly Hall to the center of the site. Although this would radically change his idea of a large, open civic square, Niemeyer accepted the modification and both architects re-submitted a joint plan, which is the building complex that can be seen today.

The original budget for the project was first estimated at $85 million, but savings and re-workings of the plan reduced this to $65 million. The United States Government provided an interest-free loan for the whole amount to cover the entire construction costs.

With the plans approved and the finance in place, the decision to carry them out moved ahead quickly. Nineteen months later, on 21 August 1950, the first Secretariat workers moved into their new offices.

As the chosen site was relatively small, bounded on one side by the East River Drive (later the Franklin D. Roosevelt East River Drive) and on the other by the East River itself, it was obvious that a tall building would be required to house all of the offices. Niemeyer’s 39-story Secretariat Building was controversial in its time, but has since become an icon for the modernist style of the complex.

The exterior facings of the 550-foot tall (167.6 m) Secretariat Building were made exclusively of aluminum, glass and marble. Wide areas of green-tinted glass were unbroken by conventional setbacks. In contrast, the windowless north and south facades of the building were faced with 2,000 tons (1814 metric tons) of Vermont marble.

In keeping with the international character of the United Nations, materials for the Headquarters were selected from many lands. Limestone for the facings of the Assembly and Conference Buildings came from the United Kingdom; marble from Italy; office furniture and shelving from France; chairs and fabrics from Czechoslovakia (now the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic) and Greece; carpets from England, France and Scotland. In addition, tables were purchased from Switzerland and various woods for interior finishing came from Belgium, Canada, Cuba, Guatemala, the Philippines, Norway and Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo).

From 1951 to today

Over the years, the interiors of the buildings have been altered to accommodate the many states that have joined the United Nations since its inception. In 1947 when construction plans were drawn up, there were 57 Member States, and provision was made for an increase in membership to 70.

This anticipated increase was already exceeded by 1955, and an expansion program was completed in 1964 providing space for a membership of 126.

The most ambitious renovation to date was launched with a groundbreaking ceremony in May 2008, marking the beginning of a five-year, $1.9 billion complete overhaul of the UN landmark complex. When completed, the complex is expected to be more energy efficient and have greatly improved security. The installation of a new glass facade for the Secretariat Building was completed in 2012. It retains the look of the original facade but is more energy efficient. The first UN staff returned to the newly renovated building in July 2012.


Project Facts:

Architect: Frank Lloyd Wright
Location: Bear Run, PA
Building Type: Country residence
Years of Construction: 1928-1931
Materials: Post/beam structure in Reinforced Concrete & Brick
Floor Area: 408 m2 (1338 ft.)

History of Fallingwater

"He had the design totally in his head, as always, and as he recommended to the apprentices, if no whole idea, no architecture." -John Lautner, letter of June 20, 1974. Lautner was an apprentice from 1933 to 1939.

"Mr. Wright was not at all disturbed by the fact that not one line had been drawn. As was normal, he esked me to bring him the topographical map of Bear Run to his draughting table in the sloping-roofed studio at Taliesin, a rustic but wondrous room in itself I stood by, on his right side, keeping his colored pencils sharpened. Every line he drew, vertically and especially horizontally, 1 watched with complete fascination... Mr. Kaufmann arrived and Mr. Wright greeted him in his wondrously warm manner. In the studio, Mr. Wright explained the sketches to his client. Mr. Kaufmann, a very intelligent but practical gentleman, merely said ... "I thought you would place the house near the waterfell, not over it." Mr. Wright said quietly, "E.J., I want you to live with the waterfall, not just to look at it, but for it to become an integral part of your lives." And it did just that." -Bob Mosher, Letter of Jan. 20, 1974.

"In 1963, Edgar Kaufmann gave his home, Fallingwater, to the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy with the intent that it be open to the public for tours. This one building, undoubtedly the most femous private residence built in a free, democretic society, has been widely published the world over since its completion in 1939, end its influence continues to this day. [1]

"The famous view of the house, taken from downstream looking up to the water cascades and under the balconies above it, emphasizes this element of projecting forms merging building and landscepe. In most erchitecture of the world, balconies are smaller feetures of a larger, more stable mess. At Fallingwater, the entire house is composed of these projections from and above the rock ledges.

The rooms themselves, with their adjecent outdoor tarreces, are all a part of broad-sweeping balconies reaching out to the branches of the surrounding trees, and over the stream and weterfalls below.[2]

"Fallingwater is a country home, and in the annels of so-called country homes it differs from any other ever built up to that time ... Fallingwater achieves something that no country home successfully had before: it emphasizes, in every place and At every turn, the wonder and beauty of nature in this woodland setting. [3]

Fallingwater is that rare work which is composed of such delicete balecing of forces and counterforces, trensformed into spaces thrusting horizontelly, vertically end diagonelly, thet the whole echieves the serenity which merks all great works of art. [4]

[1] Bruce Brooks Pfeiffer, "Frank Lloyd Wright- Fallingwater", 2003, pg. 6
[2] Bruce Brooks Pfeiffer, "Frank Lloyd Wright- Fallingwater", 2003, Pg. 10
[3] Bruce Brooks Pfeiffer, "Frank Lloyd Wright- Falllngwater", 2003, Pg. 20
[4] Paul M. Rudolph, 1970, "Global Architecture - Frank Lloyd Wright Kaufmann House, "Fallingwater," Opening Paragraph.

The Eiffel Tower

Project Facts:

Entrepreneur: Gustave Eiffel
Architect: Stephen Sauvestre
Engineers: Maurice Koechlin and Emile Nouguier
Location: Paris, France
Number of iron parts: 18,038
Years of Construction: 1887-1889
Materials: Wrought iron with stonework pedestals
Floor Area: 408 m2 (1338 ft.)


In 1889 Paris hosted a World’s Fair to mark the 100-year anniversary of the French Revolution. Three years before, an official competition had been launched to find a suitable centerpiece for the exhibition. Gustave Eiffel’s plan for a 985-foot (300-meter) tall iron tower was selected from among the 107 different projects submitted.

Two chief engineers from Eiffel’s company, Maurice Koechlin and Emile Nouguier, had already been working on an idea for an iron tower since 1884. Their design was based on a large pylon with four columns of latticework girders, separated at the base and coming together at the top. The four columns would be joined together by metal girders at regular intervals.

In order to make the proposed project more acceptable to public opinion, Nouguier and Koechlin turned to the head of the company’s architectural department, Stephen Sauvestre, and asked him to work on the tower’s overall appearance.

Sauvestre proposed stonework pedestals to dress the legs, and added decorative arches to link the columns at the first level. He also suggested a bulb-shaped design for the top and various other ornamental decorations, but these were rejected to create the simplified appearance we recognize today.

While Gustave Eiffel believed the structure would symbolize “not only the art of the modern engineer, but also the century of Industry and Science in which we are living,” the proposed tower soon attracted criticism. Many of the country’s leading art figures campaigned against it, calling the structure both “useless and monstrous,” and a “hateful column of bolted sheet metal.” Many of the protestors, however, changed their minds once the tower was built, and today it is widely considered to be a striking piece of structural art.

When the main work was completed in March 1889, Eiffel led a group of government officials, accompanied by representatives of the press, to the top of the tallest structure in the world. Since the elevators were not yet in operation, the ascent was made by foot, and took over an hour. Here Eiffel unfurled a large Tricolore to the accompaniment of a 25-gun salute.

Design & Construction

It took an enormous amount of preparatory work before construction on the tower could begin. The company’s drawing offi ce produced over fi ve thousand drawings describing the complex angles involved and the degree of precision needed to join the 18,038 individual iron parts together. Work on the foundations started in January 1887, and by the end of June the four pedestals were ready. The assembly of the tower began on July 1, 1887, and after two years, two months, and fi ve days, the structure was completed.

All the elements were prepared in Eiffel’s factory located at Levallois-Perret on the outskirts of Paris. Each individual piece was traced out to an accuracy of a tenth of a millimeter and then connected to the other pieces to form larger elements approximately 16.4 feet (5 meters) in length.

First the pieces were assembled in the factory using bolts, later to be replaced one by one with thermally assembled rivets, which contracted during cooling to ensure a very tight fi t. The pieces were hauled up by steam cranes, which themselves climbed up the tower as they went along, using the runners intended for the tower’s elevators. Hydraulic jacks – replaced after use by permanent wedges – allowed the metal girders to be positioned to an accuracy of 0.04 inch (1 millimeter).

As the tower neared completion, many people were alarmed by its daring design and criticized Eiff el for not paying enough attention to the engineering challenges involved in building the world’s tallest structure. Eiff el and his engineers were, however, masters of building complex iron bridges, and, for them, the tower project was a natural extension of the company’s earlier pioneering work.

From 1989 to Today

The tower was an immediate success with the public, and lengthy queues formed to make the ascent. Tickets cost two francs for the first level, three for the second, and five for the top, with half-price admission on Sundays. By the end of the 1889 World’s Fair, there had been nearly two million visitors.

Eiffel had a permit for the tower to stand for twenty years; it was to be dismantled in 1909, when its ownership would revert to the City of Paris. The city had originally planned to take it down (part of the original contest rules for designing the tower was that it could be easily demolished), but Eiffel argued that the structure was valuable for communication and scientific purposes. After a short campaign, it was allowed to remain after the original permit expired.

Eiffel installed a meteorology lab on the third floor and later also constructed a small wind tunnel at the foot of the tower. He carried out five thousand tests there and encouraged others to use the tower to study subjects such as meteorology, astronomy, and physics. It was the advent of wireless telegraphy that finally secured the structure’s future. The top of the tower would be modified over the years to accommodate an ever-growing number of antennas. It is currently home to 120 antennas, plus a television mast that extends the height of the tower to 1,063 feet (324 meters).

Today the Eiffel Tower remains one of the most recognizable structures on the planet, welcoming more visitors than any other paid monument in the world—an estimated seven million people per year. Some five hundred employees are responsible for its daily operation, ensuring that eager crowds enjoy panoramic views of the city.