Fallingwater to Sydney Opera House: Ranking the world’s best concrete buildings

Large and small, some of the most iconic structures of all time were made of the composite material.

January 15, 2016 |
The world’s best concrete buildings

Syndey Opera House. Photo: Mauro De Carvalho/Creative Commons

Fallingwater is Frank Lloyd Wright’s signature creation. The Pennsylvania house, which hangs over a river due to its cantilever design, is a national landmark and an excellent example of modern architecture.

Australia’s Sydney Opera House is comprised of shell-shaped curved roofs, consisting of more than a million V-shaped tiles. Designed by Jørn Utzon, the venue has won numerous awards and has even been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Chicago’s unique corncob-shaped towers are official known as Marina City, a residential building with many on-site recreation facilities, an open-air roof deck, and several stories worth of parking. Architect Bertrand Goldberg designed it to have almost no right angles.

These buildings are different, but they have a common thread: All are made of concrete.

The Guardian has two lists of the ten best concrete buildings, with one list selected by architecture critic Rowan Moore, and the other by readers.

Among Moore’s picks were the Bank of London and South America in Buenos Aires; St John’s Abbey Church in Collegeville, Minn.; and the nearly 1,900-year old Pantheon in Rome. Readers suggested the three buildings listed above, along with other choices like the National Theatre in London and The Lotus Temple in Delhi.


Tiles on the Sydney Opera House. Photo: Jimmy Harris/Creative Commons.

Marina City in Chicago. Photo: clarkmaxwell/Creative Commons.

Fallingwater. Photo: Timothy Neesam/Creative Commons.

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