Whether imposing or inspiring, spectacular or subtle, the structures that surround us influence the way we interact with the world and lead our lives.
The Great Builders celebrates the motivations, innovations and achievements of forty pioneering designers from the 14th century to the present day. Here we meet Brunelleschi, who built the ‘unbuildable’ dome of Florence Cathedral, and Sinan, the Christian engineer who became chief architect to the Ottoman court. Here, too, we find ourselves looking up at the world’s first skyscrapers by William Le Baron Jenney and Louis Sullivan.
Later, we explore how rapid advances in industrial production found expression in the reinforced-concrete buildings of Le Corbusier and the steel-and-glass structures of Mies van der Rohe. The innovative use of materials has been combined with computer-aided design in the work of today’s architects, represented here by Norman Foster, Frank Gehry and Santiago Calatrava, allowing them – just as their predecessors had done – to test the boundaries of the possible.