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5 Stops To Make When on an Architecture Lover’s Road Trip

Written by:
Mallory Knee
Sean Pavone Photo

As an architect, there’s nothing like exploring some of the country’s architectural marvels first-hand. The United States is a treasure trove of diverse and awe-inspiring architecture, and some locations are perfect for any architecture lover. Consider making these stops on an architecture lover’s road trip and celebrate groundbreaking designs that push the boundaries of the craft.

1. St. Augustine, FL

Founded in 1565, St. Augustine is the oldest continuously inhabited European settlement in the United States. The city’s rich history is present in its well-preserved Spanish colonial architecture, making it a must-see destination for one of the best road trips in Southern Florida. Key landmarks include the Castillo de San Marcos National Monument, constructed in the late 17th century, and the Flagler College, a superb example of Spanish Renaissance Revival architecture.

2. Chicago, IL

Many hail Chicago as the birthplace of the modern skyscraper, and for good reason. Numerous iconic works from the Chicago School of Architecture and the Bauhaus Movement are here. Architects won’t want to miss the iconic Willis Tower, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s Farnsworth House, or Frank Lloyd Wright’s Robie House—all fine examples of engineering prowess.

The city also offers ample opportunities to admire the work of contemporary masters, such as the Aqua Tower by Jeanne Gang. Given the number of places to visit in the city, it’s important to use some tips for planning and taking an inspirational architecture tour and avoid missing anything!

3. Palm Springs, CA

Nestled in the Coachella Valley, Palm Springs boasts one of the largest concentrations of mid-century modern architecture in the United States. The city experienced significant growth during this era, resulting in many stunning residential and commercial designs. Architects will adore the iconic residences, including Richard Neutra’s Kaufmann House and the striking Palm Springs City Hall, designed by Albert Frey and Robson Chambers.

4. Philadelphia, PA

Philadelphia’s architectural landscape is a testament to the various movements that shaped the United States over the centuries. As a result, it offers a comprehensive and diverse experience as a stop on the perfect architecture lover’s road trip.

Some of the city’s must-visit sites include the Romanesque Revival-style Furness Library, the Art Deco gem known as the PSFS Building, and the postmodern Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts. No trip to Philadelphia would be complete without a stroll down Elfreth’s Alley—one of the country’s oldest continuously inhabited residential streets.

5. Seattle, WA

Seattle’s architectural prowess and commitment to sustainability are well-documented, making it a top destination for architects interested in green design and contemporary aesthetics. The city’s highlights include the Space Needle, which offers sweeping skyline views, and the visually striking Experience Music Project Museum, designed by Frank Gehry. Seattle is also home to the environmentally forward-thinking Bullitt Center, the world’s greenest commercial building.

The United States is an architectural wonderland, providing a rich tapestry of styles and periods to explore. These destinations offer a glimpse into the architectural treasures that abound in the nation. Embarking on this road trip provides an adventure through the country, a journey through time, and a celebration of architectural innovation and diversity.

By Liliana Alvarez

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