Whether you work in masonry, construction, roofing or another skilled trade, it’s difficult not to appreciate the beauty of architecture. From the Empire State Building to the Sears Tower to the Flatiron Building, our greatest American builders have produced towering works that exhibit the exquisite combinations of form and function.
5 of History’s Most Accomplished American Builders
William F. Lamb
William Lamb, who lived from 1893 – 1952, is best known for designing the Empire State Building in New York.
The 102-story skyscraper in Midtown Manhattan was the world’s tallest building when it was opened in 1931. Since then, it has remain one of the most notable pieces of the famous New York City skyline. To date, it has been featured in more than 250 television shows and movies, including an unforgettable scene in King Kong.
Lamb is also responsible for designing many other iconic structures in New York City, including the Forbes Magazine Building, the Standard Oil Building, the Bankers Trust Building and the General Motors Building.
Bruce Graham, who died in 2010, was a Columbian-American architect that designed the Sears Tower in Chicago.
The Sears Tower, which is now known as the Willis Tower, is a 110-story skyscraper that was completed in 1973. It was the world’s tallest building until 2014, when it was surpassed by the World Trade Center.
Throughout his life, Graham was a prolific American builder. His most famous structures include:
- The John Hancock Center in Chicago
- Canary Wharf in London, England
- Hotel Arts in Barcelona, Spain
Daniel Burnham, who lived from 1846 – 1912, is an American architect and urban designer who is known for his work on Union Station in Washington, D.C.
However, New York contractors may be most familiar with the Flatiron Building in Manhattan, which he also designed. The 22-story triangular building has been a fixture on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan since 1902. In fact, the neighborhood in which this quintessential symbol of New York City is located now bears its name.
Burnham also helped develop master plans for several major world cities, including Chicago, Manila and Baguio.
I.M. Pei, who is 101 years old today, is a highly decorated American builder. He has won many prestigious honors, including the Pritzker Prize, which is sometimes called the Nobel Prize of architecture.
He has designed many famous structures, such as the John F. Kennedy Library in Massachusetts and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.
I.M. Pei is known as one of the greatest American builders, because of architectural contributions, like these:
- Providence’s Cathedral Square
- The Hancock Tower in Boston
- The Jacob Javits Convention Center in New York
Frank Gehry, who is 89 years old, has been building world renowned structures for decades. Although each is different, they all depict his unique style.
Vanity Fair has called Gehry “the most important architect of our age.”
His most recognizable buildings include:
- Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles
- The Museum of Pop Culture in Seattle
- The Headquarters of IAC in Manhattan
- The Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain
- 8 Spruce Street in Manhattan
Lamb, Graham, Burnham, Pei and Gehry are only five of the greatest American builders of all time. There are many more who have made our cities great. Are there any notable architects we should add to this list?