Home > Post A Week 2011 > 5 Interesting Man-Made Wonders

5 Interesting Man-Made Wonders

Just to prove that we humans can complicate just about anything, even a simple internet search on the Seven Wonders of the World yields a myriad of lists. Apparently you have to specify which ‘world’ you are interested in. Do you mean the ancient world or the modern world? Are you interested in natural wonders or man-made? Adding the word “new” results in a different list. In 2007, USA Today gave developing a list a whirl and reported that its judges had selected new wonders of the world including the Internet (location: Earth) and the Great Migration of the Serengeti and Masai Mara (location: Tanzania and Kenya), allowing for a people’s choice—the Grand Canyon. Even London’s sewer system makes the cut when it is included as an industrial wonder, alongside the Brooklyn Bridge and Panama Canal.

Given the number of “wonders” that exist in the world, according to these various lists, it’s rather pathetic how few I’ve actually seen. A “wonder” from this list and perhaps two from another is as far as I have gotten. Even if I don’t have the opportunity to see any of the top picks of my favorites, there are some structures that have caught my attention in my travels, resulting in some awe-inspired, how’d-they-do-that moments that make me wish I were a better photographer.

1. Houses of Parliament Building, London, England – There’s something about this foreboding, spikey Gothic architecture that compels me to gaze at it for minutes on end as if to impress its image into my brain. I still haven’t figured out why I have such a fascination with this building. Perhaps it’s the sheer size of it, the color or just that it looks so serious.

Houses of Parliament

2. Scottish Parliament Building, Edinburgh, Scotland – Designed by Spanish architect, Enric Miralles, the Scottish Parliament building was officially opened in 2004. Its quirky design plays with abstract shapes, colors, and window accents that remind me of puzzle pieces. Edinburgh has no dearth of sights, but the Parliament building is definitely worth a slow walk by on the way to Holyrood Park. Every angle offers a different silhouette, which allegedly cost an extreme 414 million pounds. I don’t know a saltire cross from a stepped gable, but the Scottish Parliament building is a head turner on the Royal Mile.

Scottish Parliament (2)


Scottish Parliament Building

3. Hampton Court Palace, England (and maze) – An excursion one beautiful July day brought us to Henry VIII’s place in Surrey. I love castles, and I wish we had had more time to explore the treasures at Hampton Court. Immediately we headed for the maze, the not-to-be-missed feature of our visit as far as I was concerned. Of course, we fumbled our way through it, but it was all in good Tudor fun. Who doesn’t like to step into another time and pick up some history in a way that’s much more fun than the boring date drills we were subjected to in school? History this way is so much more interesting.

Hampton Court Palace

Wall and ceiling at Hampton Court Palace

4. Swiss Re Building, England – So why is a building that’s nicknamed The Gherkin on my list? This is, after all, a list of architecturally interesting wonders. And how does one design a conical, eco-oriented building change the skyline and architectural history? With a sleek, shiny skin and a shape that reduces wind turbulence. 30 St. Mary Axe is credited with being UK’s first environmentally progressive, commercial high-rise building. I just think it’s cool.

Swiss Re Building

Number 5 isn’t in the UK. And I haven’t seen it yet.

5. Beekman Tower, 8 Spruce Street, New York – Frank Gehry’s designs are nothing short of large-scale artist renditions. It is one of the tallest residential buildings in the Western Hemisphere. I’d like to look up at Beekman Tower in person, because it reminds me of a steel waterfall. Of course, some of Mr. Gehry’s other designs could make my list too, including the Dancing House in Prague or the Guggenheim Museum in Spain.

8 Spruce Street

That’s my list. Just five cool buildings waiting to join the list of man-made wonders. I wonder, How did they do that?

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