April 13, 2007
  For Whom the Polls Toll
Favorite buildings through the decades

Summary: R. Randall Vosbeck, FAIA, 1981 AIA president and 2007 Kemper Award recipient, has done some comparisons of “favorite buildings” polls done in 1885 and 1976 and the AIA150 Favorite American Buildings poll completed this year. For good measure, we have added a 1991 survey conducted by the AIA Memo. We thought you might find the results interesting, and we thank Vosbeck for sharing his findings with us.

(The numbers in parentheses indicate where building was ranked in 2007 poll of the 150 Favorite Buildings)

1885: Best Buildings
Results of poll of architects by American Architect & Building News

  1. Trinity Church, Boston, H. H. Richardson (25)
  2. The U.S. Capitol, Washington, D.C., Thornton, Latrobe, Bulfinch, Mills, Walter (6)
  3. Vanderbilt House, New York City, Richard Morris Hunt
  4. Trinity Church, New York City, Richard Upjohn
  5. The Jefferson Market Courthouse, New York City, Withers & Vaux
  6. Connecticut State Capitol, Hartford, Conn., Richard Upjohn
  7. City Hall, Albany, New York, H.H. Richardson
  8. Sever Hall, Harvard University, H.H. Richardson
  9. New York State Capitol, Albany, N.Y., H.H. Richardson
  10. Town Hall, North Easton, Mass., H.H. Richardson.

1976: Proudest Achievements of American Architecture in the Nation’s First 200 Years
Results of Poll of Architects, Historians, and Critics by AIA Journal (only the first 10 are listed)

  1. University of Virginia Campus, Charlottesville, Va., Thomas Jefferson
  2. Rockefeller Center, New York City, Reinhard & Hofmeister; Corbett Harrison McMurray (56)
  3. Dulles Airport, Chantilly, Va., Eero Saarinen
  4. Falling Water, Bear Run, Pa., Frank Lloyd Wright (29)
  5. Carson Pirie Scott, Chicago, Louis Sullivan, Daniel Burnham (145)
  6. Seagram Building, New York City, Mies van der Rohe & Philip Johnson; Kahn and Jacobs
  7. Philadelphia Savings Fund Society, Philadelphia, George Howe & William Lescaze
  8. (tie) Boston New City Hall, Kalman McKinnell & Knowles; Campbell Aldrich & Nulty
  9. Trinity Church, Boston, H.H. Richardson (25)
  10. (tie) Lever House, New York City, SOM
    Brooklyn Bridge, New York City, John and Washington Roebling (20)
    Robie House, Chicago, Frank Lloyd Wright (138)
    Johnson Wax Building, Racine, Wis. Frank Lloyd Wright
    Ford Foundation Building, New York City, Kevin Roche and John Dinkeloo.

1991: Top All-Time Work of American architects
From the October 1991 AIA MEMO. The results are from 800 self-selected respondents to a request in the June 1991 MEMO.

  1. Fallingwater, Bear Run, Pa. (1936), Frank Lloyd Wright (29)
  2. University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Va. (1826) Thomas Jefferson
  3. Chrysler Building, New York City (1929), William van Alen (9)
  4. Monticello, Albemarle County, Va. (1775, remodeled 1808), Thomas Jefferson (27)
  5. Dulles International Airport, Chantilly, Va. (1963), Eero Saarinen
  6. Gateway Arch, Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, St. Louis (1965), Eero Saarinen (14)
  7. Robie House, Chicago (1909), Frank Lloyd Wright (138)
  8. Seagram Building, New York City (1957), Ludwig Mies van der Rohe in association with Philip Johnson
  9. Trinity Church, Boston (1877), Henry Hobson Richardson (25)
  10. East Building of the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. (1978), I.M. Pei

2007: Favorite American Buildings
Results of Poll of Citizens by Harris Polling of 150 “Favorite American” Buildings for AIA’s 150th Celebration (only the first 10 are listed).

  1. Empire State Building. New York City, Shreve, Lamb and Harmon
  2. The White House, Washington, D.C., James Hoban
  3. Washington National Cathedral, Washington, D.C., George Bodley and Henry Vaughan
  4. Thomas Jefferson Memorial, Washington, D.C., John Russell Pope
  5. Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, Irving and Gertrude Morrow
  6. U.S. Capitol, Washington, D.C., Thornton, Latrobe, Bulfinch, Walter, Meigs
  7. Lincoln Memorial, Washington, D.C., Henry Bacon
  8. Biltmore Estate (Vanderbilt Residence), Asheville, N.C., Richard Morris Hunt
  9. Chrysler Building, New York City, William Van Alen
  10. Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Washington, D.C., Maya Lin and Cooper Lecky Partnership.
news headlines

To view the results of the America’s Favorite Architecture poll, visit the AFA Web site.