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The Most Iconic Building in Every State in America


a large white government building with a dome
Photo: Getty Images

Alabama: Alabama State Capitol, Montgomery

Completed in 1851 after the original structure burned down, the Greek Revival–style Alabama State Capitol temporarily served as the Confederate capitol building in 1861. Architect Barachias Holt designed the structure, and African-American engineer Horace King completed the building’s iconic spiral staircase.

a modern white building with curving walls in the snow
Photo: Getty Images

Alaska: University of Alaska Museum of the North, Fairbanks

Architect Joan Soranno of GDM/HGA designed this modernist museum building in 2005. It houses a collection of more than 1.5 million objects related to the cultural and biological history of the region.

a low stone and red wood building near a pool at sunset
Photo: Getty Images

Arizona: Taliesin West, Scottsdale

Frank Lloyd Wright established Taliesin West in 1937, retreating to the Arizona desert to escape the harsh winters of Wisconsin, where he lived in the summers. The campus is still home to an active architecture school, but the public can take guided tours of the structures and grounds.

a tall glass and metal chapel in the forrest
Photo: Getty Images

Arkansas: Thorncrown Chapel, Eureka Springs

Arkansan Jim Reed completed this chapel, his dream project, in 1980. The glass-and-wood building was named the 1981 American Institute of Architects Design of the Year, and in 2006 the same organization awarded it the Twenty-Five Year Award.

a modern curving reflective building
Photo: Getty Images

California: Walt Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles

California has an incredible architectural legacy, from the midcentury to Spanish Mission–style designs. Frank Gehry’s 2003 Walt Disney Concert Hall ushered in a new era of architecture to L.A., adding the architect’s signature metallic undulations to the downtown skyline.

A white building with a steep slope and spiky roof
Photo: Getty Images

Colorado: Air Force Academy Cadet Chapel, Colorado Springs

The SOM-designed chapel, which opened in 1963, is the most-visited man-made attraction in Colorado. Its 17 white geometric spires reach a height of 150 feet.

Exterior View of American architect, Philip Johnsons's Glass House in New Canaan, CT, a small, translucent building.
Photo: Getty Images

Connecticut: Glass House, New Canaan

Philip Johnson’s seminal Glass House was built in 1949, and the architect used it as a weekend retreat until his death in 2005. The entire National Trust for Historic Preservation Site comprises 49 acres and 14 buildings.

a formal white building with columns and a black roof
Photo: WikiMedia

Delaware: The Grand Opera House, Wilmington

This 1871 opera house was designed by Thomas Dixon as a Masonic Temple and an auditorium, hosting the likes of Ethel Barrymore and John Philip Sousa. It fell into disrepair in the 1960s, but a renovation in 1973 gave the theater a new life.

a large white art deco building with curving facade
Photo: Flickr

Florida: The Fontainebleau Hotel, Miami Beach

South Beach is known for its neon-lit Art Deco buildings, but head a bit farther north and you’ll find the grand dame of them all—Morris Lapidus’s Fontainebleau. The hotel opened in 1954 and was the most luxurious property in Miami.

Neo-Classical and Neo-Renaissance architectural style of the Historic Flatiron Building.
Photo: Getty Images

Georgia: Flatiron Building, Atlanta

Atlanta’s own Flatiron Building, officially called the English-American Building, was actually built five years before New York’s, in 1897. Designed by architect Bradford Gilbert, the 11-story stucture is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

A low white building floating in the ocean
Photo: Getty Images

Hawaii: USS Arizona Memorial, Honolulu

The Alfred Preis–designed building honoring the people who died in the attack on Pearl Harbor straddles its namesake ship in the middle of the water. Some two million people visit this monument each year.

Boise, Idaho State Capital Building, which is brown and formal in style, during summer season.
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Idaho: Idaho State Capitol, Boise

Architects John E. Tourtellotte and Charles Hummel were tasked with designing the capitol building for Idaho 15 years after it became a state, starting construction in 1902 and completing the main building in 1912 and the wings in 1920.

a tall black skyscraper amidst other tall buildings
Photo: Getty Images

Illinois: The Willis Tower, Chicago

The 1973-built Willis Tower, formerly known as the Sears Tower, is the anchor point of Chicago’s skyline. It was the tallest building in the world for 25 years, from 1973 to 1998. In order to maximize space and efficiency, architecture firm SOM employed the use of the bundled tube structure, designed by engineer Fazlur Rahman Khan.

a modern white house with paneled walls
Photo: Getty Images

Indiana: The Atheneum, New Harmony

The small town of New Harmony, Indiana, which was established as a utopia by Robert Owen in 1925, has a welcome center designed by architect Richard Meier. The all-white building has won multiple awards, including the AIA’s Twenty-Five Year Award in 2008.

a domed government building at sunset
Photo: Getty Images

Iowa: Iowa State Capitol, Des Moines

The Iowa State Capitol has not one, but five impressive domes, originally designed by architects John C. Cochrane and Alfred H. Piquenard, though the project changed hands several times before it was finished in 1886.

This lovely state capitol, like many in our nation, was modeled after the Federal Capitol Building in Washington. It has a dome and sandstone colored exterior walls.
Photo: Getty Images

Kansas: Kansas State Capitol, Topeka

Standing at 304 feet tall, the Kansas State Capitol dome is taller than the United States Capitol dome by 16 feet. Architect Edward Townsend Mix designed the structure to be built with local limestone—it took 37 years to complete the project, with construction ending in 1903.

a large racetrack with stands and spectators
Photo: WikiMedia

Kentucky: Churchill Downs, Louisville

The home of the famous Kentucky Derby, the Churchill Downs racetrack is known for the Twin Spires atop the grandstand, which were designed by architect Joseph Dominic Baldez in 1895.

A large white cathedral with black spires
Photo: Getty Images

Louisiana: St. Louis Cathedral, New Orleans

Worshippers have been visiting the site of the St. Louis Cathedral since 1727, when the first church on the site was completed, making it the oldest Roman Catholic cathedral in contiguous service in the U.S. The current structure was built in the 1850s.

a tall red-brick lighthouse-style building
Photo: Getty Images

Maine: Portland Observatory, Portland

Built in 1807, this octagonal lighthouse-shaped tower was used to signal ships coming into the Portland Harbor. It remained active until 1923, when the two-way radio was invented, and today it serves as a museum.

The central hall of a tall room surrounded by balconies
Photo: Getty Images

Maryland: George Peabody Library, Baltimore

One of the most beautiful university libraries in the world, the George Peabody Library at the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore has a five-tiered atrium lined with books. Local architect Edmund G. Lind completed the project in 1878.

a gothic style stone church in a park with flowers
Photo: Getty Images

Massachusetts: Trinity Church, Boston

While its parish was established in 1733, the current Trinity Church was built by Henry Hobson Richardson in the 1870s. It’s one of the finest examples of Richardsonian Romanesque, a style pioneered by the eponymous architect that typically featured heavy arches and rough stone.

A beige colored art deco skyscraper at sunset
Photo: Getty Images

Michigan: Fisher Building, Detroit

Albert Kahn designed this 1928 Art Deco skyscraper in Detroit for the Fisher brothers, who, like many others in Detroit, were made rich by the automobile industry. The dazzling building features more than 40 kinds of marble, gold-leaf frescoes, and polychromatic mosaics.

an ornate domed church at night
Photo: Getty Images

Minnesota: Cathedral of Saint Paul, St. Paul

The elaborate Cathedral of Saint Paul is the fourth church to be built on the site, completed in 1915. It was designed by Emmanuel Louis Masqueray, who also was the head architect for the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis

an antebellum mansion with red bricks and white balconies
Photo: Getty Images

Mississippi: Longwood, Natchez

Local couple Haller and Julia Nutt commissioned architect Samuel Sloan to design an Oriental-style villa. While construction began in 1861, the outbreak of the Civil War halted the project—it was never completed, and the couple lived in the basement of the building.

Cityscape of St Louis at sunrise with the iconic Gateway Arch overlooking the Mississippi River.
Photo: Getty Images

Missouri: Gateway Arch, St. Louis

Modernist great Eero Saarinen won a competition to design this monument to America’s Westward Expansion, beating out his father, Eliel. The 630-foot structure is the tallest accessible structure in the state.

a beige neo-gothic church with spires
Photo: Getty Images

Montana: Cathedral of St. Helena, Helena

Opened in 1914, the Cathedral of St. Helena is modeled after the Votivkirche in Vienna. Architect A.O. Von Herbulis presented two drawings to the church committee, one in the Romanesque style and the other in the Gothic style: The latter was chosen.

a simple, tall white government building
Photo: Getty Images

Nebraska: Nebraska State Capitol, Lincoln

Nicknamed the “Tower on the Plains,” the Nebraska State Capitol features a 400-foot tower—the public can access observation decks on the 14th floor (at 245 feet). Architect Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue designed the structure, which opened in 1920.

a black-glass pyramid with a light at the top
Photo: Getty Images

Nevada: Luxor Las Vegas

The 4,407-room Luxor hotel in Las Vegas has an unmistakable shape—it’s a hulking mirrored pyramid, a defining form in the landscape of the Strip since 1992, when the hotel opened. It is, of course, named after the Egyptian city.

a white mansion-style building with a red roof in the green rolling hills
Photo: Getty Images

New Hampshire: Omni Mount Washington Resort, Bretton Woods

This National Historic Landmark, designed by architect Charles Alling Gifford, is a Gilded Age hotel that opened in 1902. During its construction, 250 Italian craftsmen worked on masonry and woodworking for the project.

a modern, glass rectangular building next to a lake
Photo: Getty Images

New Jersey: Bell Works, Holmdel

Formerly known as the Bell Labs Holmdel Complex, this 472-acre campus served as a scientific research facility. Eero Saarinen designed the main building, a massive mirrored structure.

a traditional clay (brown) pueblo building with colorful doors
Photo: Getty Images

New Mexico: Taos Pueblo

Rather than pick a single structure for New Mexico, we have to name all of the adobe buildings in Taos Pueblo, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The majority of these reddish structures were constructed between 1000 and 1450.

a silver art deco skyscraper in a city
Photo: Getty Images

New York: Empire State Building, New York

Perhaps one of the most famous buildings in the world, the Empire State Building is the flagship of the New York skyline. The Art Deco skyscraper by Shreve, Lamb & Harmon was completed in 1931 and was the tallest building in the world until 1970, when the World Trade Center towers surpassed it.

a massive gothic-style home
Photo: Getty Images

North Carolina: Biltmore, Asheville

At 178,926 square feet, the Biltmore Estate is largest privately owned home in the U.S. Built for the famous Vanderbilt family, the mansion was designed by Richard Morris Hunt, who was inspired by French châteaux and English manors.

a red and white building surrounding a town green
Photo: Getty Images

North Dakota: Fort Union Trading Post National Historic Site, Williston

This post on the Missouri River was one of the most important in the fur trade in the mid-19th century. Though the original buildings have long since been razed, they’ve been reconstructed based on archaeological evidence.

a large yellow building that looks like a wicker basket
Photo: Getty Images

Ohio: Longaberger Basket Building, Newark

Not all architecture is meant to be taken seriously. The cheeky former headquarters of the Longaberger Company, which sells baskets, is, well, a basket! The seven-story office building was recently bought by Coon Restoration, which is expected to preserve the landmark.

a tall beige art deco building
Photo: Getty Images

Oklahoma: Boston Avenue Methodist Church, Tulsa

This 1929-completed church in Tulsa features elaborate Art Deco detailing, including terracotta sculptures by artist Robert Garrison. The building was based on designs by local art teacher Adah Robinson and architect Bruce Goff of Rush, Endacott and Rush.

a colorful cube-shaped building
Photo: Steve J. Morgan / via WikiMedia

Oregon: Portland Building, Portland

Architecture is oftentimes controversial, and in Oregon, the Portland Building might be the most divisive in the state. Michael Graves designed this postmodern office building, which opened in 1982, and it sparked quite a debate about its aesthetics, with architects being split upon its merits.


Pennsylvania: Fallingwater, Mill Run

Perhaps Frank Lloyd Wright’s most famous work, Fallingwater has been nearly universally praised as one of the most beautiful houses in existence—the AIA voted it the “best all-time work of American architecture” in 1991.

Rhode Island: The Breakers, Newport

The Vanderbilt family constructed this mansion in the tony town of Newport, a Gilded Age retreat for the wealthiest American families. Architect Richard Morris Hunt designed the exterior, while Jules Allard and Sons and Ogden Codman, Jr. designed the ornate (and sometimes gaudy) interior.

Spanish moss covered tree and the Drayton Hall Georgian plantation house.
Photo: Getty Images

South Carolina: Drayton Hall, Charleston

Built in the mid-17th century, this Palladian-style plantation home is one of the best preserved in the country. In fact, the home has never been renovated, and all the original materials still remain.

a colorful building covered in corn kernels
Photo: Getty Images

South Dakota: Corn Palace, Mitchell

Drawing 500,000 visitors annually, the Corn Palace is a Moorish-style auditorium and event space that’s decorated with a new corn-cob mural on its façade each year. The present building was erected in 1921, but the first Corn Palace, a temporary structure, was built in 1892.