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Movies for Architects

Hollywood has it all figured out. Where else can you let your imagination run as wild with the creation of unbelievably fascinating constructs and environments? Some of my favorite examples are below, from my personal experience of course. Feel free to share your favorites and add to my list!

12 Monkeys (1995):

Elements from the world of this futuristic thriller were borrowed from the imagination of none other than architectural superstar Lebbeus Woods. The main character is interviewed several times in a contraption in which a chair is suspended in the air from a wall with a mechanical sphere hovering in front of him, almost exactly as Leb imagined in his sketch.


This film gets a special nod for taking place in Philadelphia; scenes were even shot in the defunct Eastern State Penitentiary. Brad Pitt plays one hell of a looney!


Brazil (1985):

Set it a futuristic society that is convoluted and inefficient, the built environment echoes civilization. When Harry Tuttle (Robert DeNiro), a heating engineer opens a wall to fix a problem with the air conditioning, an impossible array of ducts, wires, tubes, and god knows what spring forth from the wall cavity.

Brazil pipes


Gattaca (1997):

Another film set in the future, this time big brother controls everyone’s fate from the day they are born by analyzing DNA to determine whether individuals are ideal specimens. The environment that the filmmakers created as a backdrop is modern and sterile, brilliantly underscoring the film’s premise that the government has usurped the individual’s free will. The architectural backdrops for the story were carefully selected to fit the director’s image of the future; Antoine Predock’s CLA Building and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Marin County Civic Center.



Inception (2010):

Hold on a minute, an Architect can enter a dream world and create ANYTHING they want?! Where do I sign up?! This movie is full of fascinating environmental juxtapositions; a freight train barrels down a city street without tracks, city blocks crumble off of seaside cliffs, the city grid folds up onto itself, and a quaint house sits in a reflecting pool at the base of a modern apartment tower.





The Fifth Element (1997):

I have to admit that I didn’t actually like this movie the first time I saw it. Once I got beyond the annoying behavior of the main subject – the fifth element itself (Leeloo is a ridiculous name btw) – and focused on the environment that the filmmakers had created it all came together for me. The movie takes place in a hyper-crowded urban world where people live in super-efficient (small) housing units, “cars” fly around impossibly tall buildings, and people vacation in outer space.