The first commercial building with modern AC, the first solar building ever build, the tallest constructions, remarkable sports stadiums, some architectural masterpieces and many more. This is a list with 35 modern buildings that were groundbreaking for the construction industry and made ways for new opportunities. We go on a journey, starting from 1851, and we stop at the most important buildings throughout the years. Are you with us? Lets start!
Also check out the video!
#1 Crystal Palace, London / 1851
World’s first grand glass structure.
The founder of all grand glass structured buildings! Joseph Paxton was set for the task to design a building for The Great Exhibition held in London’s Hyde Park. This Exhibition was meant to impress the world with Britain’s industrial achievements. Eventually, it was more the building that caught the people’s attention…
#2 Savoy Theatre, London / 1881
The first public building to be lit entirely by electricity.
The Savoy Theatre was very remarkable at its time. It was not only regarded as one of the most beautifully fitted theatre’s of Europe, it was mainly famous because of being world’s first public building to be lit entirely by electricity. The first show in the Savoy Theatre was a show called ”Patience”. Read here an article of the critics of The Times the day after the show.
#3 La Sagrada Familia, Barcelona / 1882
Masterpiece of Antoni Gaudi.
Antoni Gaudi took the quote ”there’s no rush to greatness” very serious. Once someone asked him about the extreme long construction period of the La Sagrada Familia. His reply was: ”My client is not in a hurry”. The question is if the building will ever be finished…
#4 Home Insurance Building, Chicago / 1885
World’s first skyscraper.
Besides being the world’s first skyscraper, this building set the standard for various other building innovations, including rapid, safe elevators, wind bracing and modern plumbing. The Home Insurance Building is the founder of the way we design cities nowadays.
#5 Paris, Eiffel Tower / 1889
World’s tallest structure until 1930.
For 41 years, the Eiffel Tower held the title of being the tallest structure in the world. It was designed as the entrance of the 1889’s World Fair. Initially, there was a lot of critics from many leading artist and intellectuals for its design. Nevertheless the construction of the Eiffel Tower, led by Gustavo Eiffel, went on and now it’s probably the most recognizable global cultural icon of France.
#6 Sea Lion Park, New York / 1895
First commercial amusements park.
Sea Lion Park was founded by the famous showman, Captain Paul Boyton. He came up with the idea to charge admission fees to enter his amusements park with multiple rides and activities. Because of this idea, amusements parks were now seen as new business opportunities. Big amusements parks like Disneyland and Six Flags would never have existed without the idea of Captain Paul Boyton.
#7 Ingalls Building, Cincinnati / 1902
The first reinforced concrete high rise building.
Despite the fear from detractors that the building would not withstand wind and a big battle to get the necessary permits, Melville E. Ingalls and W.P. Anderson fought on to get this massive structure build and with that being the world’s first reinforced concrete skyscraper. Once it was build, people were so sure the building would collapse, that a local reporter once stayed up all night next to the building waiting for it to fall down…
#8 Sackett-Wilhelms Lithographing and Publishing Company, New York / 1903
First building with modern AC.
Airconditioning was a big change in construction industry. The first building to use AC was the Sackett-Wilhelms Lithographing and Publishing Company. With this AC system, they managed to keep a humidity of 55 percent inside the building – the equivalent of using 108,000 pounds of ice daily to cool the plant. The modern air conditioner was born.
#9 Ford Plant, Highland Park / 1909
First moving assembly line.
The moving assembly line changed the way plants were constructed. This sort of assembly line made it possible to implement mass production techniques within a company. It was a game-changer. Typical for this new form of assembly line was Henry Ford’s famous quote on his cars assembled in the Ford Plant: ‘”You can have it in any color you want, as long as it’s black.”
#10 Hotel La Salle Garage, Chicago / 1918
First multi-storey parking garage.
The idea of making a multi-storey car park was revolutionary in the construction area. As the amount of cars in cities began to rise, the lacking of space to park the car became bigger and bigger. The invention of the multi-storey parking garage solved this problem.
#11 Chrysler Building, New York / 1930
World’s tallest until 1931.
Walter P. Chrysler set in 1930 the new standard with creating the tallest skyscraper in the world, The Chrysler Building. In 2005, New York’s skyscraper museum did a survey and asked 100 architects, builders, critics, engineers and historians to choose their ten favorite New York towers. The Chrysler building was the convincing winner with 90% of people ranking it as number one. However the fact that the design of the building was breathtaking, the success of being world’s tallest was very short-lived…
#12 Empire State Building, New York / 1931
World’s tallest until 1974.
The ‘tallest building competition’ in New York got a new competitor once the Empire State Building stepped into the game. Upon its completion on April 11, the Empire State surpassed the Chrysler by taking over the title of being world’s tallest building. The competition had a huge impact on the construction industry in New York, and with that, on the construction industry in the rest of the world.
#13 Pentagon, Arlington / 1943
One of the world’s most secured offices.
The building process of The Pentagon began on September 11, 1941. Exactly 60 years before the 9/11 terrorists attacks. The building were build in record time, with more than 15 000 workers on site working around the clock. The demand of office space at that time was so big, that people already started working in the office without it being completely finished.
Check out also: Coolest Offices Around The World
#14 Bridgers and Paxton Solar Buildings, Albuquerque / 1956
First solar building ever build.
The Bridgers and Paxton Solar Buildings were the world’s first commercial alternative energy buildings. The buildings were heated primarily by solar energy. This new way of heating a building was a big step in making constructions more environmental-friendly. Since then, other business owners saw it as an opportunity to let their business go green or save money.
#15 Civil Arena, Pittsburgh / 1961
First ever sports venue build with a retractable roof.
The first ever retractable roof for a sports stadium was build on the Civil Arena, primarily the home base of the Pittsburgh Penguins. The roof covered 170 000 sq. feet and was constructed with 3000 tons of Pittsburgh steel. Despite a lot of people who were against it because of the historic value, the stadium got demolished in 2011. Nevertheless, the Civil Arena in Pittsburgh will forever be the founder of retractable roof stadiums all over the world.
#16 Astrodome, Houston / 1965
First sports venue with a dome.
The Astrodome was home to the Houston Astros for over three decades until they moved to a more modern stadium right next to the Astrodome. Being still one of the icons of the big city Houston, the Astrodome was a real eye-catcher by its completion in 1965. It was even dubbed as the ”Eight Wonder of the World”. The first ever sports venue with a dome was born and soon there were a lot more to come.
#17 World Trade Center, New York / 1973
World’s tallest twin towers until 1998.
Of course there’s a lot to tell about the World Trade Center, or the Twin Towers as most people liked to call them. The completion of the building was a triumph for human imagination and a symbol for the devotion to progress and future of the American construction industry. The building set a new record of the tallest twin towers in the world. On a clear day, people could see wide views over the the five New York City boroughs, New Jersey and Connecticut.
#18 Opera House, Sydney / 1973
Jorn Utzon and Arup’s masterpiece.
The Sydney Opera House is one of the most iconic buildings in Australia, being the beautiful architectural wonder as it is. The design of architect Jorn Utzon was initially rejected by three judges in a 1956 competition to design the Opera House of Sydney, but a fourth judge named Eero Saarinen called the idea outstanding and picked out his design. Mr Utzon beat 232 other competition participants and won 5000 pounds for his design.
#19 Willis (Sears) Tower, Chicago / 1974
World’s tallest until 1998.
The Willis Tower, or Sears Tower as many people still refer to, held the title of world’s tallest for nearly 25 years. Back in the days, the biggest retailer in the world was Sears Roebuck and Company. They decided that they needed a central office space for its 350 000 employees. And so the Sears tower was build as their new home base. Fun fact: 104 elevators are moving 1200 feet every minute, every day.
#20 Lotus Temple, New Dehli / 1986
Following CNN most visited in the world.
The Bahai Lotus Temple was designed by Iranian architect Fariborz Sahba in the shape of a lotus as it’s common to several religions. He has won some significant international awards for this piece of work including the awards from the GlobArt Academy, Institution of Structural Engineers and more. A research of CNN in 2005 came up with the fact that the Lotus Temple in New Delhi is the most visited building in the world with more than 10 000 visitors a day. The question is if it’s a dated fact, but still this architectural piece of magic deserves a place on our list.
#21 Rungrado 1st of May Stadium, North-Korea / 1989
World’s largest stadium.
North-Korea wouldn’t probably be the first place where you expect it, but they are the hosts of the biggest stadium in the world. The stadium has a capacity of 114,000 seats which set a new record of the biggest stadium ever build by capacity. The stadium is currently used for football matches, a few athletics events, but most often for Arirang Festival performances.
#22 Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao / 1997
Philip Johnson called it ”The greatest building of our time”.
What to say about the Guggenheim Museum. This building is on the most admired works of today’s architecture. The building was appreciated by critics, academics and the general public, something that happens really occasionally. The building was not just a game changer for architecture, it also shook up a complete city. Guggenheim’s effect on Bilbao’s tourism was so big, that media started talking about the so called ”Bilbao Effect”. The Guggenheim was, and is a great example of how certain constructions can have a big influence on cities.
#23 Petronas Towers, Kuala Lumpur / 1998
Tallest twin towers in the world.
The Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur is still the tallest twin towers in the world and have also been world’s tallest building for six years with its height of 1483 ft. The towers was build by two different construction consortiums, one for each tower. The Petronas Towers were finished in 1998. Once a man named Alain ”Spiderman” Robbert climbed one of these dizzying high towers, just by using his bare hands and with no safety equipment. This daredevil stunt took him just under two hours…
#24 Burj Al Arab, Dubai / 1999
Has been called ”The world’s only 7-star hotel”
When you want to go to the Burj Al Arab, don’t forget to bring your wallet. Staying in one of the worlds most expensive hotels will cost you a minimum of $1,000 per night and can increase to over $15,000 per night, depending on the suite you’re choosing. When Atkins designed the Burj Al Arab, they decided that it had to become symbolic for Dubai, like the Eiffel Tower for France and the Opera House for Australia. The construction of the Burj Al Arab surely set a whole new standard in constructing world class hotels.
#25 Lewis Center for Environmental Studies, Ohio / 2000
First living machine system.
“We wanted a building that was not just energy efficient and powered by sunlight, but also one that was a great place in which to work. We got it.” This quote from director Dr. David Orr was exactly what they’d achieved with the Lewis Center for Environmental Studies. The building was a new milestone in the construction of environmental friendly buildings. The proof of this was their nomination from architect magazine being the ”most important green building constructed in the last 30 years”.
#26 Taipei 101, Taiwan / 2004
World’s tallest until 2010.
Checking the skyline of Taipei, it’s pretty impossible to miss the Taipei 101. The building got the title for being worlds tallest for a good six years. The number 101 represents the amount of floors and it symbolizes high ideas by going one better than 100. The building received an award of being ”world’s tallest green building” back in 2011. Amazing are also the fireworks shows during the Chinese New Year.👇
#27 Turning Torso, Malmö / 2005
World’s first twisting skyscraper and tallest building in Scandinavia.
Scandinavia has a rich history of eye-catching buildings, but one that really stands out is the Turning Torso in Malmö. The design of the Turning Torso is based on a sculpture by Calatrava, called Twisting Torso, a white marble piece in the form of a twisting human being. After the completion, the Turning Torso became the first twisting tower in the world.
#28 National Stadium, Beijing / 2007
World’s largest steel structure.
42,000 tons of steel were used for the construction of the Nation Stadium by which it became the largest steel structure in the world. The stadium is also often referred to as the ”Bird’s Nest” because of its shape. However, the stadium is probably more famous for being the main stadium during the olympic games in 2008.
#29 CCTV, Beijing / 2008
3D cranked loop form is a structural engineering marvel.
When we talk about remarkable and game changing, the CCTV building in Beijing can not be skipped from the list. This building can be seen from most places in Beijing and its structural form gives a striking three-dimensional experience. The architects stated that they gained their inspiration from the television production process, which involves a loop of interconnecting activities. Cool explanation, but the building is even cooler.
#30 Burj Khalifa, Dubai / 2010
Current world’s tallest.
From dessert to metropole, the skyline of Dubai changed rapidly in a short period of time. Since 2010, there’s one building that massively oversizes all the other buildings: The Burj Khalifa. With its 2,716.5 feet, Dubai showed the world again that ‘too big’ doesn’t really exists in their dictionary.
#31 New Century Global Center, Chengdu / 2013
World’s largest building.
The New Century Global Center in Chengdu is big. Really big. So big that the building is even capable of fitting three Pentagons inside. If that doesn’t illustrates enough how big it is, than the size will, measuring a 19 million square feet. Inside the building there’s more than enough pleasure to fill your day with. So what to do when in Chengdu? Go to the New Century Global Center!
#32 The Shard, London / 2013
Biggest building in Western Europe.
If you are a construction worker and you think you’ve seen everything, hear this story. Towards the end of the construction of The Shard in London, construction workers found a fox on the 72nd floor of the building. The fox, nicknamed Romeo, probably survived on food left by the people on site. Luckily, later on Romeo was found alive and released back into the wild. How it got to the 72nd floor? Nobody really knows.
#33 Winsun apartments, Shanghai / 2014
First commercial building build by using 3D-printing.
Winsun had the vision to revolutionize the construction industry by using 3D printing technology. The first project they did was a batch of 10 houses in Shanghai, known as the Winsun apartments. These apartments were almost entirely build by using 3D printing technology. This revolution in the construction industry was so remarkable, that it reached a lot of newspaper headlines. 3D printing may not be fully integrated in construction yet, but Winsun did show us the way for its possibilities and possible future.
#34 Shanghai Tower, Shanghai / 2015
Building with the fastest elevator in the world.
It just didn’t surpassed the Burj Khalifa by a few hundred feet to become world’s tallest, but what the Shanghai Tower does have is world’s fastest elevator. With a speed of 45.8 mph you can zoom from bottom all the way up to the 118th floor in less than a minute.
#35 Zhangjiajie Glass Bridge, China / 2016
World’s tallest and longest bridge.
Warning! Not for people with fear of heights! This dizzying high bridge is hanging 980 feet above China’s Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon with a length of 1400 feet. But because that’s not terrifying enough, the floor structure is completely made of glass. The bridge can accommodate a maximum of 800 visitors at a time. The glass bridge has been tested on its safety by the BBC. Check out this video on how that worked out:
So there we are! Hope you enjoyed the list. We appreciate your feedback and if we forgot any building on this list, let us know! Also, stay updated about the latest construction news, trends and information by subscribing to our newsletter.