America’s 20 Favorite Buildings

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18. Hotel Del Coronado – San Diego, CA

What could be more striking, or make less sense, than a perfect example of 19th century British architecture on the California Pacific coast? A California beach house in downtown London perhaps? Though it may seem to an architectural fish out of water, it has been a magnet for celebrities, royalty and U.S. Presidents since it opened in 1888 at the peak influence of the Queen Anne building style. But such was its renown that its guest list includes from the Prince of Wales to Charlie Chaplin to Barack Obama. Queen Anne design is ornate and precious and violates every law of the American School which holds that buildings should be organic as if art of the site on which it’s built. But then architect James Reid apparently never studied law. The jumble of turrets and excess celebrates the Golden Age of decadence. Jay Gatsby would have been a frequent visitor had he actually existed. Gilded Age exuberance.

17. Metropolitan Museum of Art – New York City, NY

The Met, as it’s affectionately known, has been evolving as an idea and entity since 1866. It has added and subtracted whole sections over the decades and has become an imposing if not terribly harmonious mix of International, Modern and Contemporary architecture, yet it somehow fits in the hustle and bustle of Manhattan. Its vast interior holds collections among the best in the world, with a net worth of approximately the Gross National Product of Iceland. Of course everyone would think of fit fondly. It’s a list of the Faves not the Bests.

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