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Known for Architecture

Your group will enjoy seeing these five sites that are know for great architecture.

The Shard


Rising from the shores of the River Thames, The Shard joined the ranks of London’s most notable sites in 2012. The building’s name comes from the project’s critics at a historic preservation group in London who called the building “a shard of glass through the heart of historic London.” The building has since become an icon of the English capital alongside other notable sites like Big Ben, Buckingham Palace and the Eye of London.

The 95-story Shard is topped with glass and steel pinnacles, a design influenced by London’s cathedral spires and the masts of ships sailing the Thames. The eight glass “shards” surrounding the building were designed with light in mind. The white glass used for the skyscraper’s windows were designed to reflect light and create a clever interplay with the weather and seasons.

Upon its completion, The Shard officially became the tallest building in the United Kingdom and the European Union. The building’s topmost floors are home to London’s highest viewing gallery, The View From the Shard. The viewing platforms are located more than 785 feet above street level and are about 40 stories taller than other viewing platforms in the capital. Looking out from the viewing decks, visitors can see up to 40 miles in any direction. Also in the building are multiple hotels and restaurants.

Florida Southern College

Lakeland, Florida

For fans of Frank Lloyd Wright, Florida Southern College will be a pleasure to visit. The college campus is located in Lakeland, about halfway between Tampa and Orlando. The campus is the largest concentration of Wright architecture in the world and is designated a National Historic Landmark.

Florida Southern is home to 13 Frank Lloyd Wright original buildings, with many unique features of Wright architecture. The campus has the only Wright-designed planetarium and theater in the round. The college’s water dome is the largest water feature ever designed by Wright, with streams of water shooting 45 feet into the air. The campus also has the last stained-glass window designed by Wright and two of his nine chapels.

Wright, who is known for incorporating themes and context into his work, based the campus design, Child of the Sun, on the citrus groves that occupied the space before development. The campus is laid out on a grid that mimics the lines of citrus trees. Circular designs and the esplanades connecting all the buildings also bring a sense of architectural unity to the campus.

In addition, the campus archive building is home to more than 20 years’ worth of Wright’s drawings and letters, which can be seen by special appointment. A small portion of the collection, including photographs, sketches and furniture, is on display in the visitor’s center.

Virginia State Capitol

Richmond, Virginia

The Virginia Capitol was the first statehouse built after the Revolutionary War, so Thomas Jefferson saw a unique opportunity to use it as showcase for our newborn country. Wanting to differentiate from the Colonial-style statehouses that the Colonies favored under British rule, he reinforced our ties to Grecian democracy with a Neoclassical architecture design.

The Virginia Capitol has become the standard for U.S. government buildings. It has many of the features that visitors expect, including the tall white columns and the portico gracing the entrance to the original structure. A conspicuous difference is the dome. The outside view of the building is simply modeled after an ancient Roman temple, but once visitors enter the rotunda, they see the magnificently painted interior of the building’s dome along with an original sculpture of George Washington, the centerpiece of the rotunda.

Mark Greenough, the tour supervisor and historian at the Capitol, describes it as a beautiful piece of jewelry with the Neoclassical building as “the jewel” and Capitol Square as “the setting.” The statehouse sits at the top of the hill presiding over the 12-acre square that incorporates a public green space with the state’s executive mansion, a public library and various government buildings. Visiting groups can also see a rotating exhibit of art and sculptures related to Virginia and U.S. history.

Ashley Ricks

Ashley Ricks is the circulation and marketing manager for The Group Travel Leader Inc.