50: Sydney Opera House

For Demonstrating Architecture's Power to Refine a City

The Sydney Opera House opened to the public in 1973—10 years behind schedule and 1,357 percent over budget. In the end, it had taken 14 years and a final cost of AU$102 million to translate those fantastical early sketches into a built reality. Yet few would argue the beleaguered project wasn't worth it. Now hailed as "an architectural marvel" and one of "the most in influential places in history," the Sydney Opera House is the youngest site to achieve UNESCO World Heritage status. It draws more than 8 million visitors every year, and a 2013 Deloitte report estimated the influx of tourists and local cultural excursions adds US$775 million to the Australian economy every year.
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