Considering that we’ve been on a slightly destructive roll, we would like to take a moment to marvel at the intrigue of construction. And not just of any buildings, but of great, monumental structures. Ones that act as markers in history and guide travelers on their contemporary Grand Tours. No, we’re not talking about the newest Zaha, Gehry, Rem, or Bjarke… Or are we?
Post-Venturi/Scott Brown, we are still obsessed with monuments in our urban landscapes. The idea of sculpture as highlight in the city is by no means a new one (check out all the function-less structures featured below), but the starchitecture overdrive does make you wonder if the memorability of contemporary structures is being diluted. Which of the blingy architects’ names will stand out in a few centuries? Will people remember China’s now largest or tallest buildings? Will newer adaptations of Planet of the Apes have One World Trade Center poking out of the sand?
Regardless, there will always be something bigger, prettier, crazier, smarter to come. The photos below, which we spotted over at io9, capture the rise of the Eiffel Tower or the bending of the Gateway Arch—and they’re wonderful and strange. They also ask us to imagine how cities like Paris, St. Louis, and New York City were perceived and branded before the constructions of their most iconic monuments.