Top 40 Songs About Architecture

Pittsburgh architect Lee Calisti’s funny blog post Didn’t I See You Crying got me thinking about other songs about the practice of architecture. Of course, “there’s no new thing under the sun”, but that didn’t stop me from pulling a Casey Kasem in between designing logos, coding websites and researching keywords. Besides, who doesn’t like a trip down memory lane?

Friends who who endured enjoyed escaped design studio and are practicing architects weighed in and this playlist will make you feel 21 again. Or. Really. Old.

Entry (as in, “Level”)

  1. Where The Streets Have No Name by U2 (mp3)
    Didn’t feel a whole lot of “sunlight on my face” in First (or Second, or Third, or Fourth, or Fifth) Year Studio!
  2. Minimum Wage by They Might Be Giants
    48 seconds of sheer hilarity.
  3. Standing On The Corner Of The Third World by Tears for Fears
    The opening line “Man I never slept so hard…” surely fits my experience as an intern.
  4. I Want You To Want Me by Cheap Trick
  5. Shadows and Light by Joni Mitchell

Passage (as in, “Rite Of”)

  1. (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction by The Rolling Stones
    A grammatically-challenged title, sure, but that’s the least of your concerns when payables exceed receivables.
  2. Up All Night by Young Knives
    Perfectly captures pre-design jury jitters.
  3. Working Man by Rush
  4. This House is Empty Now by Elvis Costello/Burt Bacharach
  5. Walk the Moon by Anna Sun

Place (as in, “Making”)
And with a H/T to Rem Koolhaas


  1. [Nothing But] Flowers by Talking Heads
  2. The Old Apartment by Barenaked Ladies
  3. Good by Better Than Ezra
  4. Pink Houses by John Mellencamp
  5. Burning Down the House by Talking Heads
    There was not a post-project gathering that did not feature this gem.
  6. House Where Nobody Lives by Tom Waits
  7. Graceland by Paul Simon
  8. Home By the Sea by Genesis
  9. We Always Come Home by Toy Matinee
  10. Sunset Grill by Don Henley


  1. Istanbul (Not Constantinople) by They Might Be Giants
  2. Subdivisions by Rush
  3. The Analog Kid by Rush
  4. Los Angelenos by Billy Joel
  5. Free Man In Paris by Joni Mitchell
  6. Cities by Talking Heads
  7. Xanadu by Rush
    The thinking man’s rock band from The Great White North (“it’s a beauty way to go”) took Samuel Coleridge’s unfinished poem “Kubla Khan”, with its references to the historic summer capital of Mongolia, and finished it with an amazing nine-minute overture.
  8. The Great Suburban Showdown by Billy Joel
  9. Last Plane Out by Toy Matinee
  10. Dirty Water by The Standells


  1. The Big Country by Talking Heads
  2. In God’s Country by U2
  3. In France They Kiss On Main Street by Joni Mitchell
  4. Carnival by Natalie Merchant
  5. New York, New York by Frank Sinatra

Extra Large

  1. The Big Money by Rush
  2. Five Percent for Nothing by Yes
  3. South Side of the Sky by Yes
  4. Heart of the Sunrise by Yes
  5. Walking On The Moon by The Police
    Some, may say
    I’m wishin’ my days away
    No way
    And if it’s the price I pay
    Some say
    Tomorrow’s another day
    You stay
    I may as well play

Thanks to clients and friends for the suggestions:
Lee Calisti, AIA,lee CALISTI architecture+design
Fritz Johnson, AIA, Formwork
Joseph Matava, AIA, Peninsula Architects
Angela Mazzi, AIA,The Patron Saint of Architecture
Christian Phillips, Christian Philips Photography

The long awaited Spotify playlist:

2 Replies to “Top 40 Songs About Architecture”

  1. I was looking for a few more songs about architecture to include in a compilation I’m making for a friend who’s relocating. He’s not only an architect, but an avid bicycle commuter, so I am also including bicycle songs. While it was cool to see a few songs by Rush and Yes on this list, I was surprised to not find “Fascist Architecture” by Bruce Cockburn and “Spiral Architect” by Black Sabbath. You might want to check them out!

  2. Thanks Scott for dropping by.

    Yes, I’m familiar with Cockburn’s song and that was an oversight. Though I wonder how it would fit the S, M, L, XL format. The Sabbath tune…hadn’t heard of that one.

    As for bicycle tunes you no doubt have Queen’s “Bicycle Race” in the mix. And how about Pet Shop Boys’ “Can You Forgive Her?”

    Have fun putting that together!

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