New Visuals Highlights What Famous Skylines Would Lose Without Global Architectural Influences

Major cities are constantly adapting and evolving as a process of migration, both architecturally and culturally. The skylines of various cities have changed beyond recognition in the past century, though in many cases, little is known about the people behind their striking designs. As a celebration of the significant, positive impact globalisation and migration has on the way the world looks and feels, a recent research has been conducted by financial service provider Remitly into 15 skylines, and visualised this impact in GIFs of London, Paris, New York, Sydney and Shanghai. Each GIF reveals a transition from how cities currently look, to how they would look without the influence of architects from outside of the city’s country, by removing key buildings designed by said architects. 


Italian architects had a major part to play in the development of the London skyline, with Italian-born Richard George Rogers designing The Leadenhall Building and Renzo Piano credited for famed skyscraper The Shard and The News Building. Argentine-American César Pelli is also responsible for more than one building in this skyline, as One Canada Square and the Citigroup Centre are both his works of art. Swiss Architect Richard Seifert and Uruguayan Rafael Vinoly are responsible for the designs of Tower 42 and 20 Fenchurch street respectively, and Indian Sunand Prasad was tasked with reskinning hospital Guy’s Tower. The work of British architects also features heavily in London, with St. Paul’s Cathedral, Big Ben, The London Eye, Tower Bridge and Buckingham Palace all designed by Brits. 

New York City

New York’s world renowned and politically moving Statue of Liberty was designed by Frenchman Frederic Auguste Bartholdi, acting as an emblem for immigrants and originally hosting the Immigration Museum. This global influence continues through the skyline, with Slovakian architect Emery Roth becoming highly influential on this New York skyline, with 55 Water Street, 200 Water Street, 111 Wall Street and the MetLife Building coming to life from his designs. The Empire State Building, the world’s tallest building at the time, was built by Canadian and American firm Shreve, Lamb and Harmon; whilst the iconic Brooklyn Bridge was created by John Augustus Roeblind from Germany. Finally, architects including Brit Rogers Strick Harbour and Japanese architect Fumihiko Maki have helped to rebuild the skyline of Lower Manhattan’s Financial District, following the tragic events of 9/11, having designed the likes of 3 and 4 World Trade Center.


The Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge render this one of the most recognizable skylines in the world, and interestingly it was Danish architect Jorn Utzon who designed the former, whilst British firm Dorman Long created the latter. In fact, due to Australia’s colonial history, the work of British architects features regularly in this skyline: Peddle Thorp Walker designed both the Gateway Plaza (1 Macquarie Place) and the AMP Centre; British firm Joseland and Gilling are responsible for Suncorp Place, and Norman Foster created Deutsche Bank Place. Italian Renzo Piano’s work makes another appearance, this time for Aurora Place, whilst French Jean Nouvel created One Central Park. Canadian-American Frank Gehry was responsible for the Dr Chau Chak Wing Building, however Australian architects also influenced the skyline through buildings such as Governor Phillip Tower, Shangri-la Hotel, Sydney Tower and the Powerhouse Museum. 


Paris is famed as the city of love, and no doubt architecture plays a major part in creating the enchanting atmosphere the city affords. Although many of the buildings in Paris were the work of French architects, such as the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe and the Notre Dame Cathedral, foreign architects also had a major role to play in the development of dreamy Parisian skylines. Notably, La Grande Arche de la Defense, arguably the most recognisable building in the La Defense skyline, was designed by Johan Otto von Sprecklesen from Denmark. Americans have the most influence on this skyline, with American firm Skidmore, Owings and Merrill credited for the Tour Areva and Defense Plaza. In addition, The Carpe Diem was created by firm Robert Stern and The Tour CB21 (formerly Tour Gan) by celebrated architect Max Abramotivz, both of American origin. Master Chinese architect Ieoh Ming Pei is the only Asian architect to influence this skyline, with his design coming to life in the Tour EDF. Other notable Parisian buildings built by foreign architects include the Opera Bastille and Centre Pompidou. 


The Pudong skyline is one of the most iconic, modern skylines in the world. Whilst the Oriental Pearl Tower and the Jin Mao Tower were designed by Chinese nationals, the distinctive Shanghai Tower was created by American Marshall Strabala and the Shanghai World Financial Centre (also known as The Bottle Opener) was the work of American firm Kohn Pedersen Fox. Kohn Pedersen Fox were also credited with Shanghai Wheelock Square and fellow American firm Callison designed Grand Gateway Shanghai I & II. Although American architecture makes up a significant portion of Shanghai’s skyline, the work of Japanese architects is also reflected in the Bank of China Tower, Aurora Plaza and One Lujiazui – all by Japanese firm Nikken Sekkei. Canadians were involved in the K11 via Bregmann & Hamann, and Argentine-American Cesar Pelli & Associates designed the Shanghai IFC.  

There is no doubt that globalisation and migration aids in the creation of richer, more diverse cultures, which is reflected in the astounding contribution foreign architects have made to these famous skylines. 

Jago McKenzie, UK Business Manager at Remitly commented: “The skylines we researched stand tall as a celebration of cultural diversification, and the GIFs we’ve created are a reminder of that. Whilst most of the cities have renowned national architects who have helped shape the local architecture, the amazing impact that architects from different cultures have had on these cityscapes is clear for all to see. We hope our research into this demonstrates that anyone can make their mark anywhere, whether it’s at home or abroad.”

To view the GIFs and learn more about the international outlook of other famous cities, visit:

Riya Sander

Riya is an inspired writer, passionate about traveling, lifestyle and encouraging startups. As a freelancer she understands the importance of productivity at work. She never stopped finding new ways to create her work productivity. Follow her on Twitter @sanderriya