If you love architecture, there are just certain buildings that are worth the extra effort to see in person; photos just don't do them justice. These ten must-see structures are scattered across the country and vary in age and purpose. Some have famous names attached, some are more about their historical significance but all are worth the trip.
Above: 1. Eames House (Case Study House No.8), Los Angeles — This colorful house is tucked away in a lovely wooded neighborhood of LA and open for tours. It was built in 1949 by Charles and Ray Eames to serve as their home and studio and is a gorgeous example of how a modern space can be warm and inviting.
2. Walt Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles
Frank Gehry designed this 2003 acoustic marvel to house the LA Philharmonic. Its exterior stainless steel curves are mirrored inside by an equally beautiful wood paneled auditorium to maximize both the music and the unique ethos of LA.
3. The White House, Washington DC
It's one of the most famous buildings in the world, but do you know the name of the architect who designed it? It's James Hoban. This Neoclassical presidential home was built between 1792 and 1800, finished in time for John Adams to move in as the first resident. If we covered all the history-making events that this building has seen, we'd be here all day so you'd better just go check it out for yourself.
4. The Chrysler Building, New York City
There's no observation deck on the 1928 Chrysler building, but anyone can wander into the lobby in NYC to appreciate the art deco ceiling murals or catch glimpses of its famous arching peak while wandering around adjacent streets.
5. The Salt Lake City Public Library, Salt Lake City
This 2003 225,00 square foot building is a unique gem in the downtown Salt Lake City landscape. Its five stories house books, an auditorium and even a rooftop garden, all bordered by a sweeping "lens" which displays the mountain views and, depending on the season, provides shade or traps heat to keep it comfortable while using fewer resources.
6. Fallingwater, Pennsylvania
It's also known as the Kaufmann Residence, for the Pittsburgh owner of the home. A bold Frank Lloyd Wright designed and built this 1935 cantilevered home over the Bear Run falls, a feat of engineering and concrete. The home and surrounding landscape is open for tours.
7. Dulles International Airport, Virginia
Architect Eero Saarinen said his vision for this building was to find "the soul of the airport," and the sweeping 1958 main terminal does bring to mind a glamorous flight. In fact, until the 1980's, each landing plane was met with mobile lounges. While that vintage perk of plane travel may be over, the building is just as graceful as ever, so take some time to appreciate this gorgeous airport next time you're flying into town.
8. The Space Needle, Seattle
This Seattle symbol was a collaboration between the two leading designers for the 1962 World's Fair — Edward Carlson and John Graham. The result was this halo tower with gently curved supports. The disc currently houses SkyCity, a rotating restaurant that, I can tell you from experience, moves at the perfect pace for you to see all the vistas of Seattle during a long lunch.
9. The Flatiron Building, New York City
This 1902 skyscraper is perhaps the most famous visual representation of just how inventive New Yorkers need to be when it comes to square footage, but it was actually designed by Chicago architect Daniel Burnham in the Beaux-Arts style. The name comes from its uncanny resemblance to, what else, an iron.
10. Aqua Tower, Chicago
The Aqua is 82 stories of residences and hotel space in downtown Chicago and was designed by skyscraper first-timer Jeanne Gang. The sculptural, undulating balconies are not only decorative, but they also maximize shade to reduce resource costs, and the puddle-like glass surfaces mirror the nearby river.
That was ten, but there are hundreds of other amazing structures to see in the USA. Tell us your picks in the comments.
(Image credits: Wikipedia Commons; Shutterstock; Shutterstock; Shutterstock; Wikipedia Commons; Library of Congress; Shutterstock; Library of Congress; Shutterstock; Flickr user George Showman via CC)