Famous Examples of Architectural Design Throughout History

 In News & Insights

The different iconic buildings that represent various decades throughout history serve as a source of design inspiration for contemporary architects and other creative professions. You can look back at distinct points in time and see the dawn of each new era in design, art, and architectural craft. Every once in a while, a building is constructed that is absolutely breathtaking; it is the epitome of greatness and defines a generation. It’s what we, as designers and architects, use to feed our own creativity.

We’ve put together a list of some of the most beautiful, widely-recognized and architecturally influential museum, library, and theater designs that have paved the way for modern-day design. These are just a few of our favorites:


Hagia Sophia Museum, Istanbul

Hagia Sophia Museum, Istanbul

This museum is an incredible testimony to the grandeur of Byzantine architecture built in 6th century AD, during Emperor Justinian’s reign. The structure was built on the site of a 4th century church where it long-stood as a pillar of the Greek Orthodox Church. The museum that it now remains is nothing short of breath-taking. The ancient church is most famously known for its impressive 102 foot in diameter dome that openly soars over 182 feet up in the sky. Among other design envies are the countless mosaics, the Marble Door, the Loge of the Empress, the marble jars and Mahmut I’s Library.


The Louvre Museum, Paris

Arguable the most famous museum in the world, for both its beauty and the housing of some of history’s most famous works like The Mona Lisa and The Venus de Milo, the Louvre is known for its stunning medieval and Renaissance styled pavilions. With such royal out-fittings, it’s no surprise that this museum was once a palace. The museum was originally constructed in the 12th century, but was later converted into a royal residence during the 14th century.


Saint Peter’s Basilica & the Vatican Museum, Rome

Saint Peter’s Basilica & the Vatican Museum, Rome

The marvelous brick and marble topography that make up the structures of Vatican City are some of the most famous in the world and one of the most revered buildings in Renaissance architecture. After all, some of the most famous artists and architects throughout the Renaissance period helped construct this city of both beauty and faith. Saint Peter’s Basilica was designed by such greats as Michelangelo, Donato Bramante, Carlo Maderno and Gianlorenzo Bernini, among others. The Vatican structures represent the pinnacle of architectural achievement in Rome, and really, throughout the world.


The British Museum, London

The British Museum is another iconic building that revolutionized architecture and design, as it was built using state-of-the-art technology in the 1820s. The building, designed by architect Sir Robert Smirke, was built in the Greek Revival style so as to emulate classic Greek architecture. Built on concrete floors with enormous Greek-style columns, the frame of the building was made from cast iron and filled with stock brick, a defining trend for its time.


Trinity College Library, Dublin

Trinity College Library, Dublin

Ireland’s oldest university is home to a true wonder. The ‘Old Library,’ built in 1732, is absolutely breath-taking with its spiral staircases and dark wooded, seemingly endless aisles. It wasn’t until 1860 that the second story was added, but it was completed in equally stunning fashion to include a jaw-dropping, high barrel ceiling.


Palais Garnier Opera House, Paris

Palais Garnier is one building of particular opulence and exceptional design. It’s the most famous theater in the world. Completed in 1875, it reflects the Neo-Baroque style. It’s also classified as Beaux-Arts due to its axial symmetry in plan and extraordinary exterior ornamentation. One of its most well-known features is the grand ceremonial staircase designed from white marble with a red and green marble balustrade. Other stunning features include elaborate statuary reflecting Greek mythology, multicolored marble friezes and massive columns.


All unique in style and defining for their time, these architectural designs are only a few among the many incredible and inspiring works throughout history. As architects, we, here at Neri Architects, are proud to be among the modern generation of artists and designers. We take great pride in our work and approach each project with the same lasting thought that went into these world wonders.

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