Top 10 modern architectural masterpieces for your bucket list

Built within the past 80- 100 years, these buildings are some of the greatest pieces of architecture that the world has to offer. How many will you add to your bucket list?

1. The Empire State Building- Manhattan, New York

The Empire State Building is one of the main buildings you need to see before you die and definitely something that needs to be seen if you are ever in New York. The building is located in the middle of New York and by going to the top out to the observation deck, you’re given a 360 degree bird’s eye view over the city. The building is open from 8am- 2am and by going up early in the morning gives the chance to watch the sunrise over the city, or if you’re not a morning person, you can watch it set over the city too and then enjoy the lights.

Construction of the Empire State Building began on May 1st 1931, and took only one year and 45 days to complete. The stands at 381 metres high (1,250 ft) and is 14.3 metres (47 feet) above sea level. William Lamb from the architectural firm Shreve, Lamb & Harmon designed the building and the contracting firm was Starrett Brothers and Eken.

2. The Louvre Pyramid -Paris, France


Opened in 1989, the Louvre Pyramid is the entrance into a grand hall of the famous Louvre museum in Paris, France. The pyramid was opened years after the museum was first opened, but became a focal point for the museum.

The pyramid was built by I. M. Pei and is made entirely of glass and steel rods. Even if you aren’t a museum type of person, the pyramid alone is something that needs to be seen. At night it is lit up, allowing the glass to sparkle and it is certainly a spectacle to behold.


3. Lloyds Building -London, England

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Home to the insurance institution Lloyd’s of London, this building is known as the ‘inside out’ building. Known for its unusual shape and spine-like resemblance, the building is a stand out piece of architecture in London, England. While this building is used for business purposes, the outside design is an architect lovers heaven, with its intricate design easily being one of the most interesting to be seen.

Construction on the building began in 1978 and took 6 years to complete. In completion of the building, 33,510 cubic meters of concrete, 30,000 square metres of stainless steel cladding and 12,000 square metres of glass were used.


4. Guggenheim Museum- Bilbao, Spain

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The Guggenheim Museum is one of the most famous museums in the world, it is also one of the most intricately designed buildings in the world. The museum was made so that the walls are roof are all load bearing, allowing for the structure to be maintained and not at risk of falling.

The Guggenheim was designed by architect Frank Gehry and was built in 1997. This iconic building stands out against the surrounding buildings, with the design making it look like a sculpture made from titanium, glass and standstone. According to, this building was the most important building of its time.


5. The bank of China Tower- Hong Kong, China

Credit- Wikipedia

The Bank of China Tower is a beautiful building by day, but by night when it’s lit up is when it really shines. The building is 367.4 metres high and has 70 storeys, with an observation deck on the 43rd floor, allowing a view out over the city of Hong Kong. The design has been compared to that of a piece of bamboo, which extends its trunk higher with growth, which is said to be where architect I.M. Pei. got his inspiration from.

The building is located in the business and financial core of Hong Kong. Building took four years and was finished in August of 1989 and opened in May 1990. The Bank of China Tower is one of the tallest buildings in Hong Kong.


6. Oriental Pearl Tower – Shanghai, China

Credit- Wikipedia

The Oriental Pearl Tower is a television and Radio tower located in Shanghai, China. The building is designed to look like it is made from small pearl like sections. It has three larger sized balls, including the sphere on top of the building, known as the space module.

There are also five smaller spheres and three decorative spheres on the base. The building received its name due to the balls looking like pearls in the sun. Not only is the tower used for broadcasting, but it is also a widely popular tourist attraction.

The tower is 468 metres tall (1536 feet). Included in the tower are bars, a shopping mall, restaurants, transmission, recreation and other amenities.


7. The Shard – London, England

Credit: The Shard

Construction on the Shard Building in London, England began in 2003, with the building finally opening in 2013. Home to offices, restaurants and hotels, it has been described as being a ‘vertical city.’ Shard developer and joint owner said that they wanted to create a building that was a striking vertical city, which is certainly what was delivered.

The Shard building was designed by architect Renzo Piano, and stands at 310 metres high. Mr Piano took inspiration from 18th century ships masts depicted by Canaletto, a Venetian painter; as well as from London Churches. The building design has eight sloping glass to look like the shards which define the shape of the building. Standing at 310 metres high, it has 95 floors within it.

Floors four- 28 feature office spaces and is connected to a public transport hub, hotel floors and private residencies make up the middle floors and the top floors allow for the UK’s highest viewing gallery.


8. The Sydney Opera House – Sydney, Australia


A little closer to home, but equally as stunning is the Sydney Opera House. Construction started in 1958 and the Opera House was opened in 1973. The Sydney Opera House overlooks the Sydney Harbour and has views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

It is used as an entertainment and performing arts venue, as well as being the location for numerous restaurants and a popular Sydney tourist destination.

The design for the building came after a competition was held in 1956 by the NSW government looking for a winning design for the building. The winning design was by Jørn Utzon, who was appointed to be the head architect. The design and construction took eight years, along with another three years for the development of the tiles for the shells that give the Opera House its unique design.

In 2007 the Sydney opera House was placed in the World Heritage Listing and was named one of the greatest architectural masterpieces of the 20th century.


9. The Petronas Twin Towers – Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia


The Petronas Twin Towers are a set of towers in Kuala Lumpur. While the two towers are separate, they feature a bridge allowing people to walk across between the two buildings. The bridge links the two buildings at the 41st and 42nd floors, is located 170 metres in the air, and gives views over Kuala Lumpur. The buildings are also visible in the skyline from almost everywhere in Kuala Lumpur

The design of the building is to symbolise the culture of Kuala Lumpur and the growth and advancement in the world. The exterior of the building is made from glass and stainless steel. The tower is 452 metres above street level and has 88 storeys. The construction of the building started in January 1992 and the then Prime Minister of Malaysia officially opened it in 1999.


10. Burj Khalifa – Dubai

Credit: Getty

The Burj Khalifa building is the tallest man made structure in the world. It stands at 829.8 metres tall and has 160 storeys. The building has set many world records due to its enormous structure, including highest man made structure, elevator with the longest travel distance, highest outdoor observation deck and highest occupied floor to name a few. In the building is a hotel, private residencies, office spaces, a restaurant and the public observation deck. Also included are private amenities for the residents of the hotel and apartments.

The inspiration for the design of the building came from the Hymenocallis flower, in the way the different levels come out at slightly different angles and widths from the core of the building.

Construction on the Burj Khalifa building started in 2004 and was finally ready for opening in 2010, three years after the 141st floor had been constructed and it had become the tallest building in the world.

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