70 Breathtakingly Beautiful Examples of Postmodern Architecture

by John Griffith

Postmodern architecture has always been a polarizing subject. While it is loved and admired by many, it is sadly also often misunderstood. One of the most striking examples of this fact is the criticism which architect Rem Koolhaas received for his CCTV building in Beijing. A few years ago none other than the Chinese president Xi Jinping expressed his dislike of the uniquely creative Postmodern structure, declaring there should be “No more weird architecture” in China.

Indeed, some people find Postmodern buildings, with their unusual shapes and mix of seemingly incompatible elements, to be way too outlandish and baffling. After all, it’s hard not to question a house shaped like a pair of giant binoculars... If you are among those wondering why Postmodern buildings are the way they are, you’ve come to the right place! In today’s article, we will explore the origins of Postmodern architecture, briefly go through its major distinctive features and, of course, give you plenty of gorgeous examples. Even if you are an architect pro, you should still stick around – our gallery features some truly spectacular structures, which you are sure to enjoy!

The CCTV building in Beijing. It was criticized by the country’s president, and some of the city’s denizens refer to it as “big pants”

postmodern architecture, the cctv building in beijing, large structure made of glass and metal, with a hollow shape in the middle

Postmodernism and Modernism

It’s not really possible to get the full picture on Postmodernism without saying a few words about its predecessor. Modernism was comprised by a number of wide-ranging movements, which originated in the late 19th century, and grew to encompass literature, philosophy, art and, of course, architecture. As its name suggests, its main focus was innovation, breaking free from tradition, and opposing ideas and beliefs which were hitherto taken for granted. After WWI, Modernism’s grow accelerated, as people were eager to move on from the horrors of the past, and create a new, better future. In architecture, this became evident through the creation of buildings with abstract and bold, but also austere designs. Gone were the complex classical structures, laden with decorative motifs. Minimalist designs with sharp, clean lines took their place.

After the Second World War, however, everything changed. Disillusioned by humanity’s materialistic and destructive nature, artists, writers and architects began creating unorthodox, provocative and extravagant works, in order to challenge the conventions of Modernism which, at that point, were already firmly established as mainstream. Their initiative quickly grew into a large movement and was subsequently named Postmodernism, literally meaning following, or coming after, Modernism. Rather than simply breaking from the traditions of the past, this new movement reexamined it, ironized it, fragmented it, and recreated it in a strikingly different, almost alien forms. While Modernism pushed forward ideas like innovation and liberation from dated concepts, Postmodernism celebrated intertextuality, pastiche and maximalism. In Architecture this was interpreted in many different ways. It could mean bold modern designs, adorned with classical elements such as pillars, arches, and gabled roofs, or abstract, larger-than-life structures, exhibiting unusual shapes and textures.

A Gorgeous Example of Postmodern Architecture

beams and wave-shaped roofs, on two buildings of different heights, both lit from within, oval asymmetric gazebo-like structure, postmodern architecture

Postmodernism characteristics

For the most part of human history, architecture was dominated by the idea of function and usefulness. Yes, a building was supposed to be beautiful but – above all – it needed to serve a certain purpose. Postmodernism did away with this restriction, focusing on design, rather than functionality. This opened architects to a myriad of possibilities, allowing them to experiment with different shapes and forms. As a result, Postmodern buildings often completely disregard stylistic rules and ideas, replacing them with metaphoric and parodic reinterpretations. They push human imagination and skill to their limits, creating unique, dream-like structures.

A fun and informative video about Postmodern architecture in Britain

The Contemporary Jewish Art Museum in San Francisco

tilted cube-like structure, made of dark reflective glass, postmodern architecture, contemporary jewish museum, san francisco usa


Postmodern building examples

There are countless Postmodern structures all over the world. Some are famous and instantly recognizable – the Sydney Opera House in Australia, the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, the AT&T Building in New York, USA. Others are familiar only to those with a special interest in architecture. Regardless of whether you are just curious about Postmodern buildings, or have a keen interest in the subject, we invite you to enjoy our gallery. It has 70 beautiful examples of Postmodern architecture, which will add a dose of beauty and wonder to your day!

Asymmetrical postmodern Mansion in New York

grey and off-white house, with lots of windows in different shapes and sizes, postmodern architecture, asymmetrical structure with geometrical motifs


The Atlantis Condominium in Miami, Florida

blue rectangular building, with a hollow square in the middle, containing elements in yellow, red and white, and a palm tree, atlantis condominium, postmodern architecture, lots of terraces with white railings

Inntel Hotel, Netherlands

mix of different styles, on a building in blue, green and grey, with orange tiled roof details, and white decorative elements, postmodern architecture, gabled roofs and georgian windows

A beautiful private residence

cube-shaped structures, with large windows, and white panelling, forming a house, postmodern architecture, near a blue swimming pool

The fun and creative Binoculars building in Venice, LA

building shaped like a pair of giant binoculars, in dark grey, postmodern architecture in Los Angeles

The Portland building is one of the most renowned example of Postmodern architecture

postmodernism examples, a large cube-like building in off-white, orange and teal blue, with stripes and a large bronze statue, above the entrance

It combines classical details, such as an impressive bronze statue, with bright colors, and clear-cut symmetrical elements

woman holding a trident, statue made of bronze, at the entrance of a tall, cube-shaped building, with small square windows, glass panels and striped details, postmodernism examples

The Canadian National Gallery, with Louise Borgeois’ famous Maman Sculpture

sculpture of a giant black spider, near a building, made of concrete and glass, supported by off-white columns, postmodernism examples, canadian national gallery

A close up of one of the gallery’s glass towers

dome-like structures made of glass, and supported by metal frames, postmodernism examples, canadian national gallery, glass roof close up

The Blue Cross Centre in New Brunswick seen from up close…

structure with rectangular shape, with multilayered effect, made from red and pale beige bricks, postmodernism examples, large glass details and many windows

…and from a distance

landscape with a large building, made from red brick, with pale beige details, postmodernism examples, radio tower nearby

Temple of Storms – the Isle of Dogs Water Pumping Station in London, UK

flattened gabled roof in black and white, propped on yellow and grey round columns, decorated with multicolored details on top, postmodernism examples, orange and grey pumping station building

One Poultry Place Office Building, London, UK

striped narrow building, in orange and cream, with angular blue windows, postmodernism examples, arch and a round clock

The Circle – two symmetrical apartment buildings in London, UK

postmodernism characteristics, purple and beige symmetrical buildings, with square windows, and terraces with brown railings

The SIS (or MI6) Building, which was famously blown up (using CGI technology) in the James Bond movie Skyfall

concrete and glass large building, with rectangular and round details, postmodernism characteristics, lots of glass segments and windows, trees and the river thames

A beautiful detail from the roof of the Harold Washington Library, Chicago

roof detail of the harold washington library, seen in close up, and featuring a bird and a flame-like ornament, postmodernism characteristics

The Marvelous Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, which bears a striking resemblance to the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao Spain. Both structures were designed by Frank Gehry

silver-colored building, comprised by several abstract shapes, resembling welded metal, postmodernism characteristics, the walt disney concert hall in los angeles

1000 de la Gauchetière – Montreal’s highest skyscraper

tall building with many windows, and a glass entrance, postmodernism characteristics, le 1000 de la gauchetiere skyscraper in canada

A beautiful structure of concrete and glass

low-angle shot of a skyscraper, made of reflective glass, and beige glossy tiles, postmodernism characteristics, pillar-like details near the entrance

Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris…

external staircase in red and white, attached to a large rectangular building, with a scaffolding-like structure, postmodernism characteristics, surrounded by lots of people

…and its branch in Metz, France

white wave-like roof, supported by orange metal beams, over a rectangular white building, postmodernism characteristics, large reflective windows

The impressive Swan Hotel at the Disney World Resort in Florida

modernism and postmodernism, disney resort's swan hotel, in yellow and green, with a pyramid shape, and column-like structures, decorated with floral motifs

One of world-renowned architect Frank Gehry’s extraordinary designs

postmodern design, abstract metal-look building, with a molten-effect roof, and a bottom part that looks twisted or folded, vertical and horizontal windows

The IDS Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota 

skyscraper with an unusual angular shape, made from reflective glass, and situated among smaller buildings, postmodern design

A beautiful view of Minneapolis at dusk

minneapolis at dusk, skyscrapers and other buildings, bathed in pink and purple light, postmodern design, one building lit in yellow

Taipei 101 – the world’s second tallest building, surpassed only by Burj Khalifa in Dubai

multicolored evening landscape, showing the city of taipei, postmodern design, a very tall skyscraper, taipei 101 to the left

The Bass – A Contemporary Art Museum in Miami

violet and green and orange lights, illuminating a large flat building, with large vertical windows, postmodern design, surrounded by trees

The Guangzhou Circle, also known as the Donut Building

donut-shaped building, with lots of glass segments, postmodern design, built near an empty street, lined with trees

The Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh

symmetrical building in cream, with brown and grey, and off-white details, postmodern design, scottish parliament building

And here is an areal view of its amazing design

areal photo of the scottish parliament building, postmodern design, with several detached structures, each in an asymmetrical shape, with a grey roof

A lovely night image of the Dubai Opera House

boat-shaped structure, made of glass and metal beams, with an oval white roof, dubai opera house, lit from within, post modernity

Speaking of Operas… here is the gorgeous building of Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia – a cultural centre and opera house in Valencia, Spain

post modernity, smooth and glossy white building, with an unusual shape and rounded edges, built over an blue artificial pool of water

Here it is again, seen from another angle

cultural center in valencia spain, with an oval shape and metal bar-like structures, post modernity, built on a blue pool of water

The Denver Central Library in Colorado

round an angular shapes, on a large building in off-white, grey and pale orange, with square windows, pointed and flat roof details, modernism and postmodernism

The Stuttgart State Gallery is often given as a superb example of Postmodern Architecture

bright green window frames, and reflective glass panels, on a building covered in beige and cream tiles, modernism and postmodernism, pink and blue pipes

Let’s take a closer look at its colorful decorative elements

gallery in stuttgart germany, with round and wave-like elements, decorated with splashes of bright color, modernism and postmodernism, jagged gabled glass roof

One of the first Postmodern buildings ever created – the Vanna Venturi House in Philadelphia, designed by Robert Venturi in 1959

vanna venturi house, with divided gabled roof, and a large rectangular chimney, post modernity, several small and one large window

An original blueprint of the house, drawn by Venturi

blue print of the vanna venturi house, post modernity architecture icon, drawn in black, on a white piece of paper

Abteiberg Museum, Germany

cream-colored panels, on an angular building, modernism and postmodernism, one side of the structure is entirely covered by reflective windows

Bankers Hall in Calgary, Canada

a pair of beige skyscrapers, with gabled roofs, flattened on top, one is light beige, and one is pale blue, post modernity, surrounded by a parking lot, and other buildings

A low-angle view of the Bankers Hall East’s entrance

silver-and pale beige-colored skyscraper, with lots of glass segments, vertical rectangular and square windows, post modernity, white decorative structures, in front of the entrance

The Rotterdam Market Hall in The Netherlands

light projections in different colors, inside the hollow area of a building, with rounded edges, and many square windows, post modernity, a square with people

The building of the Canadian Museum of Civilization

museum of civilization in canada, pale beige building, with round and wave-like elements, lots of glass panels, and grey domes, modernism and postmodernism, tulip garden nearby

This incredible skyscraper in Houston, Texas, belongs to the Bank of America

palm trees and other foliage, in front of a large skyscraper, composed of three layers, each ending in a terraced roof, modernism and postmodernism, lots of square windows

And here is the environmentally friendly building of the Academy of Sciences in California

postmodern buildings, grassy area with small artificial hills, on the roof of a large, but not very tall building, surrounded by gardens and trees

A close up of its incredible garden roof

open hatch in pale grey, with a glass lid, on the roof of the california academy of sciences, surrounded by plants, postmodern buildings

A look at Alban Gate, London

angular and round elements, incorporated in a large building, with lots of glass segments, postmodern buildings in london

This unique structure was opened in 1992

street lamps and trees, near a large building, in pale brown and grey, with lots of windows, and glass elements, alban gate london

The Ally Detroit Center

rectangular skyscraper with lots of windows, featuring gothic-inspired spires at the top, postmodern buildings, ally detroit center

Note the Gothic-inspired spires on its roof

Gothic-inspired spires, made from pale beige, and light grey bricks, on top of a skyscraper in detroit

The playful and unique building of the French Film Archives in Paris

abstractly shaped building, covered in cream and pale beige tiles, with a grey roof-like detail, and a glass entrance, postmodern buildings, la cinematheque francais in paris

The Faison Building in Milwaukee, Wisconsin by day…

tower-like skyscraper, in different shades of brown, decorated with arches, and elements inspired from classic architecture, postmodern buildings in wisconsin

…and seen at dusk

clouded dark grey sky, above a skyscraper, featuring details inspired by classical architecture, seen from a low angle

Frankfurt’s beautiful Messeturm 

pencil-shaped brown tower-like skyscraper, in the middle of a city square, messeturm in frankfurt

A Castle-like casino resort in Los Angeles

l'auberge written in yellow letters, at the top of a large building, with big glass panels, reflecting the light of the sunset

The Canadian Centre of Architecture

old brick building, surrounded by grass and trees, round postmodern structure next to it, with two rows, of differently shaped windows

The Humana Tower in Kentucky 

side by side images of the humana tower in kentucky, seen from up close, and further away, rectangular and oval elements, and tall columns

The roof of the Sony Tower, New York

gabled roof with a hole detail, on top of a skyscraper, with windows in different shapes, the sony tower in new york

Espaces d’Abraxas – an otherworldly housing estate in Noisy-le-Grand, France

c-shaped grey building, with pale beige and off-white details, and perfectly symmetrical elements, courtyard with green grass

The Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Harvard University

two round column-like structures in white, in front of a rectangular, pale brown building, modernism and postmodernism, white details and horizontal windows

James R. Thompson Center, Chicago, USA

terraced-effect large building in blue, with white and orange details, and many windows

Hong Kong – The Center Plaza Skyscraper 

antenna on top of a tall skyscraper, made from reflective glass and metal, surrounded by other tall buildings, in hong kong

The Piazza d’Italia in New Orleans

roman theatre-resembling structure, with elements painted in white, red and yellow, and a shallow pool, skyscrapers in the background

A deconstructed Best Products store – blurring the lines between architecture and art installation

pale grey brick building, featuring the word best, written in large blue letters, on one of its walls, many balloons in different colors, flying out of a large crack in the building

The Sainsbury Wing of the National Gallery in London. UK

off-white and grey concrete building, with filled-in windows, and roman-like columns, sainsbury wing of the national gallery in london, next to a busy street

The Disney HQ in Burbank, California, effectively utilizes parody and pastiche

statuettes of the seven dwarves, from the animated movie snow white, propping a roof, with elements inspired by antiquity, on a yellow and orange building, disney studio's HQ in Burbank

We hope you’ve enjoyed our selection!

jagged glass and metal structure, fused with an old building, made from beige bricks or stone, and featuring ornate widnows

John Griffith

John Griffith is a young, passionate journalist. Writing has been John’s hobby ever since he was a boy. He has worked in some of the UK’s most successful news portals over the course of his professional career but found his forever home at Archzine.