Insights from Famous Builders Throughout History
Although architects and engineers don’t always achieve the fame and fortune that famous artists do, they do leave an indelible, fairly permanent mark on society. Spend a few moments with us as we examine the accomplishments and insights of some of the most famous builders throughout history.
Did you know that Michaelangelo was also a builder? In addition to his famous dome on St. Peter’s Basilica, which inspired the capitol building in Washington D.C., he built a two-story library on top of a convent using a style that veered from the traditions of his time (the 1500’s). He also included faux window spaces in his structures that served no known purpose. Expert building tip? Decorative touches make all the difference.
Fast-forward 100 years to Sir Christopher Wren, an architect who doubled as an astronomer, physicist, and engineer. Wren was hired to design the dome on St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, but got “lucky” when the cathedral burned (the fire burned so hot that its stones were said to have exploded like grenades!) and he was engaged to rebuild the entire thing. Wren put his many talents to use redesigning one of London’s most prominent and historically valuable landmarks. Expert building tip? Sometimes smaller projects lead to bigger things.
Spanish architect Antoni Gaudi was devoutly religious and infinitely inspired by nature, believing it to be God’s creation. He incorporated natural elements like curved lines, bright colors, and natural textures into his radical new design style, best illustrated in Barcelona’s Cathedral of the Sagrada Familia. Although his style wasn’t necessarily appreciated during his time, it came heavily into favor in the 1960s. Expert building tip? Let your passion guide you.
Ludwid Mies van der Rohe is hardly a household name, but he was an important figure in residential building. Designing homes in his native Germany, as well as in Spain and the United States, his structures, including the Seagram building in New York and the Lake Shore Drive apartments in Chicago, reflect his simple, minimalist, industrial style. Expert building tip? Less is more.
The current London Bridge (there have been several throughout history) was designed by British architect Lord Horford in the 1960’s after it was realized that the previous iteration was actually sinking, and cost more than $50M to construct. A true London icon, the bridge was opened by Queen Elizabeth herself in 1973 and has been featured in countless movies since. Expert building tip? You don’t have to be the first to build it, you just have to be the best.
Oscar Niemeyer was a Brazilian architect and one of the founders of modern architecture. He revolutionized the use of concrete in construction, the use of which is visible in his design for the United Nations building in New York, Brazil’s Niterói Contemporary Art Museum, and the Mondadori Publishing House in Italy, all of which also prominently feature his trademark curves and abstract construction. Niemeyer passed away days short of his 105th birthday and continued to design long after his 100th birthday. Expert building tip? You’re never too old to build really cool structures.
Architecture and structural engineering are the artists of our everyday existence. Their work is visible outside our front doors and effects the landscapes of our days. Their curiosity leads to creativity that inspires us and makes our lives more interesting. What will YOU build today?
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