10 Under the Radar Cities for Architecture Lovers
Experience modern and historic design around the world.
Photo By: VisitScotland, image by Kenny Lam
Photo By: Strong National Museum of Play
Photo By: Adrien Williams
Photo By: Visit Mason City
Photo By: Courtesy of Setouchi Retreat Aonagi
Photo By: Robert Polidori
Photo By: Rhonda Bolner
Photo By: Experience Oxfordshire, www.experienceoxfordshire.org
Photo By: Tourism Australia
What makes a city stand out as a worthwhile destination for design and architecture fans? These 10 lesser-known but essential destinations around the world are worth checking out for fans of both historic and modern architecture. At the top of the list is Dundee, Scotland with its iconic V & A Museum of Design (pictured) created by architect Kengo Kuma to resemble a Scottish cliff face. Other must-see sites are the 13th century Dudhope Castle, the kinetic Dundee Contemporary Arts Center and The MacManus, a Gothic Revival-style museum.
Rochester, New York
With eight different historic preservation districts in the city of Rochester, there are many sightseeing landmarks for architecture lovers such as the Victorian styled National Susan B. Anthony Museum and House, the Art Deco Times Square Building with its 40-feet high "Wings of Progress" sculpture and the George Eastman Museum, a photography and film archive in the Colonial Revival style. But there are more recent achievements as well like the colorful, whimsical design of the Strong Museum (pictured), which promotes creativity and learning for children, and the recently renovated Hyatt Regency, the tallest hotel in the Finger Lakes region.
Although Saskatoon appears to be a remote city in Saskatchewan, the city is famous for its ornate geometrical features and vibrant art scene. One of its biggest attractions is the Remai Modern (pictured), a museum with a metal and glass block design created as a response to the surrounding prairie landscape. Other attractions include the F.P. Martin House with its unique, irregular (built in 1926 by architect Frank Percy Martin), the First Nations University of Canada, where the main campus design by Douglas Cardinal resembles an eagle in flight and the modern skyscraper design of the McCallum-Hill Centre, Tower One, Regina.
Mason City, Iowa
Fans of world famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright often flock to Chicago or Buffalo to see many of his famous creations. But Mason City has a few important Wright landmarks and buildings by his architect contemporaries open to the public. Notable stops include the 1908 Stockman House, featuring Wright’s famous Prairie School design, the historic Park Inn, which originally opened in 1910 as the City National Bank and Park Inn, and the Rock Crest and Rock Glen neighborhoods where you can take a self-guided tour of homes designed by Wright, Walter Burley Griffin and others. The Charles H. MacNider Art Museum with its famous bent cedar shingle roof and the 1903 Kirk Apartment building with its copper-clad oriel windows and eclectic design are also recommended.
Under the radar but quickly becoming a top travel destination for design lovers is Matsuyama which combines innovative new work like the modern, minimalistic Setouchi Aonagi hotel (pictured), designed by noted Japanese architect Tadao Ando, with historic landmarks like the Isaniwa Shrine, a beautifully preserved Shinto structure that dates back more than a thousand years. Additional highlights include the maze-like design of the Dogo Onsen bath house circa 1894, the 132-meters high Matsuyama Castle on a steep hillside in the town center, and the dazzling Dogo Giyaman Glass Museum in the Yamanote Garden Place.
Fort Worth, Texas
The cultural district in Fort Worth has been luring visitors to the city for years due to three world-class museums - the Kimbell Art Museum with its distinctive pavilion (pictured) designed by Renzo Piano, the Modern featuring Tadao Ando’s design, and the Amon Carter Museum of American Art with its postmodern style by Philip Johnson. Make sure you also check out Johnson’s 1974 multi-level, polygonal merger of concrete, water, vegetation and walkways known as the Fort Worth Water Gardens and the 1907 Flatiron Building with its signature Renaissance Revival design.
An architectural mecca in a small Indiana town? Believe it or not, Columbus has been ranked 6th in the nation for architectural innovation and design. Among the 90 buildings created by world renowned architects are two creations by Eero Saarinen in the Modernist style - Miller House and Garden, a famous midcentury modern home, and the impressive North Christian Church (pictured) with its sky-piercing 192-foot spire. Among the other must-see sites are the ornate 1864 Victorian mansion and Italian gardens known as the Inn at Irwin Gardens, The Prall House, an early 1890s Queen Anne Victorian home landmark, the intriguing Fire Station 4 designed by Robert Venturi in 1966 and the unusual look of the Columbus Signature Academy at Fodrea Campus with its semi-circular white exterior highlighted with primary colors and super graphic numbers.
You can get a great crash course in historic architecture in Oxford with such famous attractions as the featured Radcliffe Camera (designed in the neo-classical style by James Gibbs between 1737-49), Blenheim Palace in the English Baroque style, the Roman-styled Sheldonian Theater with its eight-sided cupola offering the best views in the city and the Saxon Tower of St. Michael with its early Anglo-Saxon architecture. If you’re looking for more modern design, consider the Functionalist look of St. Catherine’s College from 1962, the Postmodern style of the Said Business School and the fantastically colored glass fins exterior of the biochemistry building at the University of Oxford.
Art Deco is a design style that is often associated with Miami but the city offers a much more diverse mix of architecture than that with such attractions as the Freedom Tower in the Mediterranean Revival style, the luxurious 1954 Fontainebleau Hotel, the Italian Renaissance-style beauty of Vizcaya Museum and Gardens and the eccentric looking Museum Garage in Miami’s design district. The Wynwood neighborhood of Miami is also a hot spot with such eye-popping sights as the Wynwood Walls, a collection of giant, ever-changing murals by street artists, the Wynwood Garage with its 3-dimensional urban canvas facade and The Duos hotel (pictured) whose design is inspired by the video game Tetris with its building blocks concept.
A mixture of the modern and historic, Sydney offers something to please every type of architecture fan. Certainly the city is famous for the bold, new look of such tourist attractions as the Sydney Opera House (pictured), the multi-venue performing arts centre designed by Jorn Utzon in 1973, One Central Park, Jean Nouvel’s two tower mixed-use space which incorporates a remarkable vertical landscape, and the Museum of Contemporary Art, which opened in 1991. Those seeking more classical architecture can visit the Queen Victoria Building built in the Romaneque Revival style, the Bauhaus-inspired Rose Seidler House and Vaucluse House, a 19th-century manor estate created in the Gothic Revival style.