What's What and Who's Who in the Architecture World

Everything You Need to Know About Architecture, At Your Fingertips

Woman in wheelchair at the John Hancock Tower and Trinity Church in Boston, Massachusetts
People, Places, & Things - A Woman in Wheelchair in Boston, Near Trinity Church and the Hancock Tower. Photo by Huntstock/Getty Images (cropped)

The basics are simple—architecture is about people, places, and things. A person in a wheelchair (people), in Boston, Massachusetts (places), with the backdrop of the famous 19th century Trinity Church reflected in the glass exterior of a 20th century skyscraper, the John Hancock Tower (things).  Architects talk about "the built environment," and that covers a lot of territory.  This page is your introduction to that built environment.

Discover great buildings and structures and how they're engineered, learn about famous builders and designers from all over the world, and see how our buildings have changed throughout history and often because of history. Make this page your architectural digest—a starting point to learn about the built world around you.

People Who Build and Use Architecture:

Those who make architecture and those who use it—who designs the spaces in which people live and work? Who sets the requirements for universal design and new urbanism?  

What is an architect? Would we have a built environment without people? What about a beaver's dam? A bird's nest? Is what we build today original, human constructions or simply imitative of what we see around us—the hidden codes of ancient geometries?

Architects From A to Z
Who are the famous, infamous, and not so well-known architects throughout history? Choose from over 100 biographies of the world's most famous architects and designers.

Many of the profiles have associated articles about their works—their portfolios. From Alvar Aalto to Peter Zumthor, find your favorite designer or learn about someone you've never heard of before. Believe it or not, more people have practiced architecture than are famous for it!

What is the ADA?
Everyone uses architecture.

Since 1990, architects have led the way enforcing the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), making old and new buildings accessible for everyone's use—not just people in wheelchairs. Today, without definitive legislation, architects design for the blind, plan safe spaces for the elderly, and even try to stop climate change with their designs. Architects can be the agents of change.

Places Where We Build:

Architects use the term the built environment because there are just so many places. You don't have to go to Italy to see great designs, but the architecture in Italy has influenced the Western world since man began building. Travel is a great way to learn about architecture. The casual traveler can experience all kinds of architecture in every country in the world and each state and city in the United States. Here are just a few of the architecture destinations that await you. The power of place can be everlasting.

Things - Our Built Environment:

From Laugier's Primitive Hut to Boston's Trinity Church or the John Hancock Tower, today we think of buildings being the "things" of architecture.

Architecture is a visual art, and picture dictionaries for architecture and design provide illustrated definitions for complex ideas like Deconstructivism and Classical Orders. And how do they build? What is adaptive reuse? Where can I find architectural salvage?

Important Architectural Styles
Learning architectural styles is a way of learning history—historic architecture periods follow right along with the periods of human civilization. Take a guided tour through architectural history. The Architecture Timeline leads you to articles, photographs, and Websites that feature great buildings and structures, from prehistoric to modern times. The house style guide to the American home is a journey through the history of the United States. Architecture is memory.

Guide to Skyscrapers
Which buildings truly scrape the sky?

Which are the tallest buildings in the World? This chart shows statistics of the world's tallest buildings, with more than 100 skyscrapers compared, including several skyscrapers still under construction.

Great Buildings & Structures
Use this directory to find a favorite structure or learn about new buildings. Facts and photos for the world's most famous buildings, including great bridges, arches, towers, castles, domes, monuments, and famous houses. Find features and photos for favorite housing styles in North America, from Georgian Colonial up through modern times. You'll find yourself taking a course in residential architecture.

Learn More:

You may not want to become a professional home designer or building designer and you may not be an aspiring architect. That's okay. But One Plan for Teaching and Learning About Architecture includes enough grist for the imagination to last a lifetime. Go for it.