Ten of the Greatest Architectural Marvels on Earth

Buildings, houses, bridges, structures, and monuments can all be described as “architectural marvels,” but we have only included exceptional examples have on this list. They are all incredible feats of construction that showcase world-class design, engineering, and architecture by some of the most renowned people on the planet. With new buildings being constructed across the globe at a phenomenal rate, the bar is set to rise even further shortly, with those responsible dreaming up new, innovative, and creative ways to build breath-taking structures that serve important purposes as well as attract visitors and tourists alike.

So, what are the best current examples of modern architecture? How were they constructed and what purpose do they serve? And who are some of the greatest designers, engineers, and architects in the world? We’ve picked some of the best from all over the globe – don’t miss this incredible list.

Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, Bilbao, Spain

Designed by Canadian-American architect Frank Gehry and inaugurated on 18 October 1997 by King Juan Carlos I of Spain, the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao is a museum of modern and contemporary art that is located in Bilbao, Spain, and features permanent and visiting exhibits of works by Spanish and international artists.

Photo by Iakov Filimonov / Shutterstock.com

According to an article in Vanity Fair, the museum has been hailed as a “signal moment in the architectural culture” because it represents “one of those rare moments when critics, academics, and the general public were all completely united about something.” It is regarded as one of the most admired works of contemporary architecture.

Burj Khalifa, Dubai, UAE

Known as the Burj Dubai before its inauguration in 2010, the Burj Khalifa is a skyscraper located in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. With a total height of 829.8 meters and a roof height (excluding the antenna) of 828 meters, the Burj Khalifa has been the tallest structure and building in the world since late 2008.

Photo by: Ilona Ignatova / Shutterstock.com

Designed by Adrian Smith of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill to be the centerpiece of large-scale, mixed-use development, the Burj Khalifa was opened in 2010 as part of a new development called “Downtown Dubai.”

Petronas Towers, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Found in the center of Malaysia’s capital city, Kuala Lumpur, the Petronas Towers – also known as the Petronas Twin Towers – are twin skyscrapers. According to the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat’s official definition and ranking, they were the tallest buildings in the world from 1998 to 2004 and remain the tallest twin towers in the world.

Photo by: Dmitry V. Petrenko / Shutterstock.com

The 88-floor towers were designed by Argentine architect César Pelli in a distinctive post-modern style, with a steel and glass facade designed to resemble motifs found in Islamic art – a reflection of Malaysia’s Muslim religion.

Fallingwater (Kaufmann Residence), Pittsburgh, US

Fallingwater – or Kaufmann Residence, as it is also known – is a house located in rural southwestern Pennsylvania in the US, 43 miles southeast of Pittsburgh. Designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright in 1935, it was built partly over a waterfall and named the “best all-time work of American architecture” by members of the American Institute of Architects.

Photo by: Jim Packett / Shutterstock.com

After its completion, Time called Fallingwater – which was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1966 – Wright’s “most beautiful job.” It is listed among Smithsonian’s  “Life List of 28 places to visit before you die” and, in 2007, it was ranked 29th on the list of America’s Favorite Architecture according to the American Institute of Architects.

Walt Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles, US

In 1987, Lillian Disney donated $50 million to build a performance venue as a gift to the people of Los Angeles and a tribute to Walt Disney’s devotion to the arts and the city. Designed by Frank Gehry, the Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown Los Angeles, California, opened on 24 October 2003.

Photo by: Maciej Bledowski / Shutterstock.com

It seats 2,265 people and, among other purposes, serves as the home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra and the Los Angeles Master Chorale. The architecture has received much praise, as has the acoustics, which were designed by Minoru Nagata.

Tarn Near Millau, France

The Millau Viaduct is a cable-stayed bridge over the gorge valley of the Tarnnear Millau in southern France. It was designed by the English architect Lord Norman Foster and French structural engineer Michel Virlogeux and cost approximately €394 million to construct.

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With a structural height of 343 meters, the Millau Viaduct is the tallest bridge in the world as of November 2018 and has been consistently ranked as one of the great engineering achievements of all time. In 2006, it received the Outstanding Structure Award from the International Association for Bridge and Structural Engineering.

, St. Louis, Missouri, US

Made from stainless steel and built in the form of a weighted catenary arch, the 192-meter Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri, is the world’s tallest arch, the tallest man-made monument in the Western hemisphere, and Missouri’s tallest accessible building.

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It was built as a monument to the westward expansion of the US and officially dedicated to “the American people,” and is commonly referred to as “The Gateway to the West.” Now a popular tourist destination, it was designed by Finnish-American architect Eero Saarinen in 1947. Construction began in February 1963 and was completed in October 1965 at an overall cost of $13 million.

Kyocera Dome Osaka, Osaka, Japan

The Kyocera Dome Osaka is a beautiful baseball stadium located in Osaka, Japan, that was opened in 1997 as the home field of the Kintetsu Buffaloes. In 2005, the stadium became one of the homes of the Orix Buffaloes. However, it is used for multiple purposes, including events and concerts.

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With a seating capacity of 36,000, it serves as a unique landmark of Nishi-Ku in Osaka. There is a dome tour around the inside of the stadium during which participants can see the bullpen where pitchers warm up, the bench, and more.

Sydney Opera House, Sydney, Australia

Regarded as one of the 20th century’s most famous and distinctive buildings, the Sydney Opera House is a performing arts center located in Sydney, Australia. Danish architect Jørn Utzon designed it after he was selected as a winner of an international design competition in 1957, and it formally opened on 20 October 1973.

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In June 2007, the Sydney Opera House became a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There are over 1,500 performances in the building annually, attended by more than 1.2 million people. It is one of the most popular visitor attractions in Australia, with more than eight million people visiting annually and around 350,000 taking a guided tour each year.

China Media Group Headquarters, Beijing, China

Located in Beijing’s bustling Central Business District, the China Media Group Headquarters is a 234-meter, 51-story skyscraper that was completed in May 2012. It was not without its challenges. However – the construction was delayed by a fire in February 2009 that also engulfed the nearby Television Cultural Center.

Photo by: Steve Heap / Shutterstock.com

Rem Koolhaas and Ole Scheeren of OMA were the architects in charge of the building, while Cecil Balmond of Arup provided the complex engineering design. In 2013, the incredible building won the Best Tall Building Worldwide from the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat.