Empire State Building is America's Favorite

A new poll reveals the architecture cherished by the nation

America’s favorite building in the U.S. is the Empire State Building, while Frank Lloyd Wright was the nation’s most prolific architect of popular structures—this according to a Harris Interactive poll released today in honor of the American Institute of Architect’s 150th anniversary. To compile its list of the most popular buildings in the U.S., Harris Interactive polled more than 1,800 adults based on a preselected list of 247 buildings compiled by an AIA panel. The AIA commissioned the survey to generate public awareness about architecture.

“(The poll) confirms that architecture resonates with people,” AIA President RK Stewart, FAIA, said in a statement that accompanied the poll’s release this morning near the U.S. Capitol building, which itself ranked No. 6 on the list. “These buildings hold a place in their hearts and minds.” The release of the poll was timed to coincide with the AIA’s annual Grassroots Leadership and Legislative Conference. Nearly 800 architects are visiting Washington, D.C., this week to participate in networking events and meet with members of Congress about sustainability and other issues important to the profession.

At the tip of Americans’ minds, so to speak, is Shreve Lamb & Harmon’s Empire State Building, the second tallest building in the country—the tallest skyscraper, Skidmore Owings & Merrill’s Sears Tower, placed 43rd on the list. American’s second favorite structure is the White House, followed by the National Cathedral and the Jefferson Memorial, both in Washington; the Golden Gate Bridge; the U.S. Capitol; and the Lincoln Memorial. Nearly half of the 150 buildings selected are located in Washington, D.C., New York City, or Chicago.

With eight buildings on the list, Frank Lloyd Wright’s work appears most often. Henry Hobson Richardson’s buildings are cited six times and Richard Meier’s were cited five times. Three projects designed by women were included, including two in the top 10: Maya Lin’s Vietnam Veterans Memorial, and the Golden Gate Bridge designed by Gertrude Morrow along with her husband, Irving. Hearst Castle, designed by Julia Morgan is on the list as well. Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello is the oldest building, begun around 1769 and completed in 1809, and the newest is the New York Times’ new headquarters by Renzo Piano. It is still under construction and will be completed later this year.