To most Americans, buildings are just there—they’re urban wallpaper or they serve a day-to-day function. Most barely notice the emotional or cultural effect that architecture has on them and their cities.
To address that, TV host Geoffrey Baer and producer-writer Dan Protess created the PBS special 10 Buildings That Changed America.
The hour-long program, which premieres May 12, examines the backstories and engineering behind 10 influential American buildings, from as many different parts of the country, that changed the way we live, work, and play, and inspired future architecture and construction. It also explores the imagination of the architects that created the structures.
The pair—assisted by 16 architects and historians—chose the buildings for their groundbreaking use of style, function, and architectural language; inspiration of future architects; illustration of an American point of view; and fascinating backstories. They then whittled 100 suggestions down to 10.
"You may not have heard of all of these ten buildings, but their influence is all around you," says Baer in a statement. "There’s a good chance that these revolutionary works of architecture inspired your local city hall or library, the mall where you shop, the office building or factory where you work, and maybe even your own house."