Great Edifices

The Wall Street Journal (subscription may be required) today reports on a survey commissioned by the American Institute of Architects to get the opinions of “ordinary” Americans. Harris Interactive, a polling agency surveyed 2,000 people who were shown photographs and asked to rate 247 buildings nominated by 2,500 architects in various categories. While the Empire State Building came in as numero uno followed by the White House, the Bellagio, a hotel-cum casino in Las Vegas made the list albeit at number 22.

The Bellagio’s inclusion was greeted with consternation and derision by some architects, the article fails to mention more notable and arguably eclectic hotel structures such as New York’s St. Regis at number 16. The main architect, Samuel Beck Parkman Trowbridge, of the Beaux-arts style structure was part of a slew of famous architects from the turn of the last century who brought that Parisian style to many a notable New York Building. Other hotels in that style include the Peninsula on 55th Street and the Aberdeen (now known as the La Quinta Hotel) on 32nd street, both “landmarked” by the City’s Landmarks Commission.

Other New York buildings such as the Chrysler building made the list and the hotels category includes many fine establishments around the country including the Hotel Del Coronado in San Diego (#18), Ahwanee Hotel in Yosemite Valley (#26), Old Faithful Inn at Yellowstone National Park ( #36), the Delano Hotel in Miami (#39), the Waldorf-Astoria (#46), Mauna Kea Beach Hotel (#54), Dolphin and Swan – Walt Disney World (#70), the Willard in Washington DC (#76), the Broadmoor in Colorado (#78) and the Plaza Hotel in New York (#81). The Plaza’s facade hails from a different pedigree, German renaissance, akin to the Dakota building on 72nd Street where John Lennon was killed.

The Bellagio’s inclusion at number 22 is welcome to hoteliers even if as the headline for the Journal article sums up the sentiment that beauty is “In the Eye of the Beholder”. Perhaps, that would inspire architects of today to design edifices based on today’s tastes – tasteless to some but obviously not to many.