Architecture 101 - A Survey of the Built Environment

Everything You Need to Know About Architecture, At Your Fingertips

Woman in wheelchair in Boston, near Trinity Church and the Hancock Tower
Woman in wheelchair at the John Hancock Tower and Trinity Church in Boston, Massachusetts. Photo by Huntstock/Getty Images (cropped)

The basics are simple—architecture is about people, places, and things.

    This page is your introduction to the world of architecture. Discover great buildings and structures, learn about famous builders and designers, and see how our buildings have changed through history.

    Things:

    Historic Periods and Styles
    Take a guided tour through architectural history. The Architecture Timeline leads you to articles, photographs, and Web sites that feature great buildings and structures, from prehistoric to modern times.

    Tallest Buildings in the World
    Which buildings truly scrape the sky? 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 are organized by building type. Browse for great bridges, arches, towers, skyscrapers, castles, domes, monuments, and much more.


    Find features and photos for favorite housing styles in North America, from Georgian Colonial up through modern times. This directory is itself a course in residential architecture.

    People:

    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.

    Most of the profiles have links to their works.

    What is the ADA?
    Since 1990, architects have led the way enforcing the Americans with Disabilities Act, making old and new buildings accessible for everyone's use. Today, without definitive legislation, architects design for the blind and try to stop climate change with their designs. Architects can be the agents of change.

    Places: The Built Environment

    Architecture Destinations
    Travel is a great way to learn about architecture. Browse this directory for great buildings by country, and explore national and cultural influences in building design. Included are links for structures in Europe, Asia, the United Kingdom, Africa, India, Canada, the United States, and other regions. Links to the international works of architects such as Zaha Hadid and Odile Decq are also included.

    Construction Facts: How Buildings Work
    What makes buildings, towers, bridges, and other structures stand up... or fall down? For anyone who is curious about the basic principles of construction, these articles provide fun and easy engineering facts.

    Architecture Glossaries: Explaining Terms, Understanding Vocabulary
    Why does an architect have AIA after her name? Is your best friend into Blobitecture?

    Could adaptive reuse be the architecture of the future and the past? Find acronyms, the names of building parts, and other important words in our two-part illustrated dictionary.

    Research Architecture Online
    Most people (even Brad Pitt) who begin to learn about architecture quickly become hooked. Stay online to keep learning about the new and old all around you. Use this page to find online resources for your research paper or project related to architecture and building design. For a more structured learning experience, check out our Plan for Teaching and Learning About Architecture.