Growing up in rural Montana I was not surrounded by great architecture or even any buildings of real consequence. Barns and hay sheds were the vernacular most common in my youth. After high school, however, I embarked upon an adventure induced by my parents' insistence that I take a gap year between high school and college. This led to an awakening of design sensibilities and what is possible.
The first building that really captured my attention was the Central Railway Station in Helsinki. Serving as a fantastic metaphor for the people it serves, this structure is at once durable on the exterior, prepared to repel the harsh winters clad in granite and copper, while the interior displays a different side with elegant clean lines and soft materials where the public interacts with the facility. Designed by Eliel Saarinen in 1909, it reflects the desire for clean, rationale lines while still integrating some elements of decoration such as the statues flanking the primary entry.
Over the years my knowledge and tastes have evolved but this building remains one of the first that made an impression upon my young mind.