Architecture begins with an idea – and the maestros of architecture not only set out on radical journeys into the unknown; they also made it back with gems of sheer beauty and incredible ingenuity.
I dared to make a list of 40 indisputably famous 21st Century architects who have shaped the iconic and memorable buildings of our generation. Initially, I wanted to make a countdown from 40 to 1, but I conceded to the fact that architecture and architects cannot be ranked – that design has an obvious subjectivity associated with it. So I will instead arrange my list alphabetically, from A to Z and trust that I have captured the outliers of the architecture today. And whilst the very concept of ‘stararchitecture’ is a hot subject in design and architecture circles; let’s put our differences aside and celebrate these men and women – even if it’s just for their ability to stand out.
Álvaro Joaquim de Melo Siza Vieira (born 25 June 1933) is a Portuguese architect and architectural educator, internationally known as Álvaro Siza. He graduated in architecture in 1955, at the former School of Fine Arts of the University of Porto. He completed his first built work (four houses in Matosinhos) even before ending his studies in 1954, the same year that he started his private practice in Porto. In 1992, he was awarded the Pritzker Prize for the renovation project that he coordinated in the Chiado area of Lisbon, a historic commercial sector that was all but completely destroyed by fire in August 1988. Siza believes that architects don’t invent anything, that they just transform reality – a philosophy that saw the jury citation for his 1992 Pritzker Prize state that, “Like the early Modernists, his shapes, moulded by light, have a deceptive simplicity about them; they are honest.”
Antoine Predock (born 1936 in Lebanon, Missouri) is an American architect based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He is the Principal of Antoine Predock Architect PC – a studio that he established in 1967. Predock attended the University of New Mexico and later received his Bachelor of Architecture from Columbia University.
Predock first gained national attention with the La Luz community in Albuquerque, New Mexico; and later the Nelson Fine Arts Centre at Arizona State University became his first nationally won design competition. As one of the famous architects, Predock’s work includes the Turtle Creek House, built in 1993 for bird enthusiasts along a prehistoric trail in Texas; the Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College and a new ballpark for the San Diego Padres. In 2006, he won the AIA Gold Medal. And in 2007, Predock was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum.
Ben van Berkel
Ben van Berkel (born in 1957) is a Dutch architect and founding partner of the internationally acclaimed architectural practice – UNStudio. He studied architecture at the Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam; and later at the Architectural Association in London, where he received his AA Diploma with Honours in 1987.
In 1988 he and his wife, Caroline Bos, set up an architectural practice in Amsterdam named Van Berkel & Bos Architectuurbureau, which realized, amongst others projects, the Karbouw office building, the Erasmus Bridge in Rotterdam. In 1998 van Berkel and Bos relaunched their practice as UNStudio, where UN stands for “United Net” in a bid to acknowledge the collaboration of the architectural design process.
Ben van Berkel has lectured and taught at many architectural schools around the world. Before he became Professor Conceptual Design at the Städelschule in Frankfurt in 2001, he was Visiting Professor at Columbia University, Princeton University and Harvard University. And in 2011 Ben van Berkel was appointed the Kenzo Tange Chair at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. Central to his teaching is the inclusive approach of architectural works integrating virtual and material organisation and engineering constructions. His most notable recent buildings putting him amongst famous architects include Theatre Agora, Mercedes-Benz Musuem and the W.I.N.D. House.
Bernard Tschumi (born 25 January 1944) is an architect and educator who is commonly associated with deconstructivism. Son of the well-known architect Jean Tschumi, born of French and Swiss parentage, he works and lives in New York City and Paris. He studied in Paris and at Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, where he received his degree in architecture in 1969.
Tschumi has taught at Portsmouth Polytechnic in Portsmouth, UK, the Architectural Association in London, the Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies in New York, Princeton University, the Cooper Union in New York and Columbia University where he was Dean of the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation from 1988 to 2003. His first notable project was the Parc de La Villette, a competition project he won in 1983. Other projects include the New Acropolis Museum, Rouen Concert Hall, and Bridge in La Roche-sur-Yon.
Born on 2 October 1974 Bjarke Ingels is a Danish architect who heads the architectural practice Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG). Known for his innovative and ambitious design approach, many of his buildings defy traditional architectural stereotypes. He often incorporates sustainable development ideas and sociological concepts into his designs, but often tries to achieve a balance between the playful and practical approaches to architecture.
At the bedrock of Bjarke’s philosophy is his belief that in order to deal with today’s challenges, architecture can profitably move into a field that has been largely unexplored. A pragmatic utopian architecture that steers clear of the petrifying pragmatism of boring boxes and the naïve utopian ideas of digital formalism. Like a form of programmatic alchemy he seeks to create architecture by mixing conventional ingredients such as living, leisure, working, parking and shopping; making him one of the most famous architects today.
César Pelli (October 12, 1926) was born in Argentina where he earned a Diploma in Architecture from the University of Tucuman. He first worked in the offices of Eero Saarinen serving as Project Designer for several buildings including the TWA Terminal at JFK Airport in New York. In 1977, Pelli became Dean of the Yale University School of Architecture and also founded Cesar Pelli & Associates (now known as Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects).
His designs have avoided formalistic preconceptions. He believes that buildings should be responsible citizens and that the aesthetic qualities of a building should grow from the specific characteristics of each project such as its location, its construction technology, and its purpose. In search of the most appropriate response to each project, his designs have covered a wide range of solutions and materials.
In 1995, the American Institute of Architects awarded Pelli the Gold Medal, in recognition of a lifetime of distinguished achievement in architecture. And in 2004, he was awarded the Aga Khan Award for Architecture for the design of the Petronas Towers, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Christian de Portzamparc
Christian de Portzamparc (born 5 May 1944) is a French architect and urbanist who graduated from the École Nationale des Beaux Arts in Paris in 1970; and has since been noted for his bold designs and artistic touch. His projects reflect a sensibility to their environment and to urbanism that is a founding principle of his work. This consequently won the Pritzker Prize in 1994.
Both an architect and urban planner, he is implicated in the research of form and meaning. His work focuses on research over speculation and concerns the quality of life; aesthetics are conditioned by ethics; and he maintains that we have too often dissociated one from the other. He thus focuses on all scales of construction, from simple buildings to urban re-think; with the town as a founding principal of his work, developing a parallel and a crossover along three major lines: neighbourhood or city pieces, individual buildings and sky-scrapers.
Christian de Portzamparc’s iconic buildings, urban poles of attraction, create environments wherein the interior and exterior spaces inter-penetrate, working as catalysts in cityscape dynamics. Some of his renowned buildings include Hergé Museum, Philharmonie Luxembourg and Cidade da Música.
An international figure in architecture and urban design, Daniel Libeskind (born on 12 May 1946) is renowned for his ability to evoke cultural memory in buildings. Informed by a deep commitment to music, philosophy, literature, and poetry, Mr. Libeskind aims to create architecture that is resonant, unique and sustainable.
In 1989, Mr. Libeskind won the international competition to build the Jewish Museum in Berlin. A series of influential museum commissions making him a famous architects entry followed, including the Felix Nussbaum Haus, Osnabrück; Imperial War Museum North, Manchester; Denver Art Museum; Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco; Danish Jewish Museum; Royal Ontario Museum; and the Military History Museum, Dresden.
In 2003, Studio Libeskind won another historic competition—to create a master plan for the rebuilding of the World Trade Centre in Lower Manhattan. In addition to a towering spire of 1,776 feet, the Libeskind design study proposed a complex program encompassing a memorial, underground museum, the integration of the slurry wall, special transit hub and four office towers. This plan is being realized today.
David Magie Childs (born on April 1, 1941 in Princeton, New Jersey) is an American Architect and chairman emeritus of the architectural firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. He is best known for his controversial redesign of the new One World Trade Centre in New York City.
Childs graduated from Deerfield Academy in Deerfield, Massachusetts, in 1959 and later from Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut in 1963. He first majored in zoology before he then turned to architecture at the Yale School of Architecture and earned his master’s degree in 1967. He joined the Washington, D.C. office of SOM in 1971, after working with Nathaniel Owings and Daniel Patrick Moynihan on plans for the redevelopment of Pennsylvania Avenue.
His major projects that gave him the recognition among the famous architects include: the Four Seasons Hotel, the U.S. News and World Report headquarters, the headquarters for National Geographic, Worldwide Plaza, 450 Lexington Avenue, Bertelsmann Tower and One World Trade Centre.
Frank Owen Gehry (born on 28 February 1929) is a Jewish architect born in Canada, currently a United States resident based in Los Angeles. He established his practice in Los Angeles, California in 1962 – and later Gehry Partners, LLP in 2001. His firm relies on the use of Digital Project – a sophisticated 3D computer modelling program originally created for use by the aerospace industry, to thoroughly document designs and to rationalize the bidding, fabrication, and construction processes.
A number of his buildings – Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain; Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown Los Angeles; Louis Vuitton Foundation in Paris, France – including his own private residence, have become world-renowned tourist attractions. His works are cited as being among the most important works of contemporary architecture in the 2010 World Architecture Survey, which led Vanity Fair to label him as “the most important architect of our age.”
Jacques Herzog & Pierre de Meuron
Jacques Herzog studied architecture at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETHZ) from 1970 to 1975. He was a visiting tutor at Cornell University, USA in 1983. He was also a visiting professor at Harvard University, USA (1989 and since 1994) and a professor at ETH Zürich since 1999, and co-founder of ETH Studio Basel – Contemporary City Institute since 2002.
Pierre de Meuron studied architecture at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETHZ) from 1970 to 1975. With Jacques Herzog, he was a visiting professor at Harvard University, USA (1989 and since 1994), and professor at ETH Studio Basel, ETHZ (since 1999).
Jacques Herzog established Herzog & de Meuron with Pierre de Meuron in Basel in 1978. Together they have won the Pritzker Prize (2001), the Stirling Prize (2003) and the RIBA Royal Gold Medal (2007). Their practice has designed a wide range of projects from the small scale of a private home to the large scale of urban design. While many of their projects are highly recognized public facilities, such as their stadiums and museums which have put them in book of famous architects, they have also completed several distinguished private projects including apartment buildings, offices, and factories.
Jean Nouvel (born on 12 Au-gust 1945) is a French architect who studied at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris and was a founding member of Mars 1976 and Syndicat de l’Architecture. He has obtained a number of prestigious distinctions over the course of his career, including the Aga Khan Award for Architecture; the Wolf Prize in Arts in 2005 and the Pritzker Prize in 2008.
In 1981, Nouvel won the design competition for the Institut du Monde Arabe (Arab World Institute) building in Paris, whose construction was completed in 1987 and brought Nouvel the international scene. Mechanical lenses reminiscent of Arabic latticework in its south wall open and shut automatically, controlling interior lighting as the lenses’ photoelectric cells respond to exterior light levels.
Ateliers Jean Nouvel, his present practice, was formed in 1994 with Michel Pélissié and is one of the largest in France, with 140 people in the main office in Paris. The practice also has site offices are Rome, Geneva, Madrid and Barcelona.
Jeanne Gang (born in 1964) is Founder and Principal of Studio Gang Architects, an award-winning architecture and urban design practice based in Chicago and New York. Internationally recognized for her innovative use of materials and environmentally sensitive approach, Jeanne explores the role of design in revitalizing cities. Through projects ranging in scale from community anchors and cultural institutions to tall mixed-use buildings and urban planning, she engages pressing contemporary issues and their impact on the human experience. Jeanne has produced what some critics consider as today’s most compelling architecture to make her one of the most famous architects today, including the Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership, the WMS Boathouse at Clark Park, the Nature Boardwalk at Lincoln Park Zoo, and Aqua Tower.
Jeanne’s work has been exhibited at the International Venice Biennale, the Museum of Modern Art and the Art Institute of Chicago. A distinguished graduate of the Harvard Graduate School of Design, she has taught at Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Rice and Illinois Institute of Technology; where her studios have focused on cities, ecologies, and materials.
Born in August 11, 1969, Joshua Prince-Ramus is Principal of REX, an internationally acclaimed architecture and design firm based in New York City, whose name signifies a re-appraisal (RE) of architecture (X). Operating across many scales, REX consistently advances new building paradigms and promotes the agency of architecture. Seminal projects include the Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre in Dallas, Texas; the Vakko Fashion Center in Istanbul, Turkey; and the Seattle Central Library – all opened to critical acclaim.
Ken Yeang (born in 1948) is a Malaysian architect, ecologist and author known for his signature eco-architecture and eco-master plans. Yeang is an early pioneer of ecology-based green design and masterplanning, carrying out design and research in this field since 1971. He is named by the Guardian as “one of the 50 people who could save the planet”. Yeang’s operating headquarters Hamzah and Yeang is in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, with other offices in London and Beijing, China.
Born in Penang, Malaysia, Yeang grew up in a tropical Modernist house designed by Iversen van Sitteren and attended Penang Free School. He obtained his qualifications in architecture from the Architectural Association School in London (AA). In 1969, he did an internship at the Singapore architect practice S.T. S. Leong, before returning to the AA to complete his diploma under Peter Cook (1972). His did his postgraduate at Cambridge University Department of Architecture.
Yeang has completed over 12 bioclimatic eco high-rise buildings, several thousand dwellings (terraced houses), over two million sq. ft. of interior design space, numerous eco-master plans and eco-city designs, and has overall completed over a hundred building projects of all types worldwide bringin him into focus in the famous architects list. Yeang lectures extensively in over 30 countries at conferences and schools of architecture on his ideas and work on ecological design and masterplanning.
His key built works include the Roof-Roof House (Malaysia), Menara Mesiniaga (an IBM franchise) (Malaysia), National Library Singapore (Singapore), Solaris (Singapore with CPG Consult), Spire Edge Tower (India with Abraxas Architects), DiGi Data Centre (Malaysia), Ganendra Art House (Malaysia), Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital Extension (under Llewelyn Davies Yeang, UK), the Genome Research Building (Hong Kong with Andrew Lee King Fun & Associates).
Kuma was born in Yokohama, Japan in 1954. After graduating in Architecture from the University of Tokyo in 1979, he worked for a time at Nihon Sekkei and TODA Corporation. He then moved to New York for further studies at Columbia University as a visiting researcher from 1985 to 1986. In 1987, he founded the “Spatial Design Studio”, and in 1990, he established his own office “Kengo Kuma & Associates“. He has taught at Columbia University, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and Keio University, where in 2008, Kuma was awarded his Ph.D. in Architecture. Kuma is currently Professor at the Graduate School of Architecture at the University of Tokyo, running diverse research projects concerning architecture, urbanity and design within his own Laboratory, Kuma Lab.
Kuma’s stated goal is to recover the tradition of Japanese buildings and to reinterpret these traditions for the 21st century. In 1997, he won the Architectural Institute of Japan Award and in 2009 was made an Officier de L’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in France. His seminal text Anti-Object: The Dissolution and Disintegration of Architecture from 2008, calls for an architecture of relations, respecting its surroundings instead of dominating them. Kuma’s projects maintain a keen interest in the manipulation of light with nature through materiality.
Some of his key projects include the Suntory Museum of Art in Tokyo, Bamboo Wall House in China, LVMH (Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy) Group’s Japan headquarters, Besançon Art Center in France, and one of the largest spas in the Caribbean for Mandarin Oriental Dellis Cay.
Beijing-born architect Ma Yansong is recognized as an important voice in the new generation of architects. As the founder and principal of MAD Architects, Ma leads design across various scales. In recent years, many of Ma’s designs follow his conception of the “Shanshui City”, which is his vision to create a new balance among society, the city and the environment through new forms of architecture.
Since designing the “Floating Island” in 2002, Ma has been exploring this idea through an international practice. At MAD, Ma has created a series of imaginative works, including Absolute Towers, Hutong Bubble 32, Ordos Museum, China Wood Sculpture Museum and Fake Hills.
In 2010 he became the first architect from China to receive a RIBA fellowship. And in 2012, his iconic project “Absolute Towers,” two residential towers in Mississauga, Canada was named the “Best Tall Building in the Americas” by the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH).
Massimiliano and Doriana Fuksas
Studio Fuksas, led by famous architects Massimiliano and Doriana Fuksas, is one of the most outstanding international architectural firms in the world. Over the past 40 years the firm has developed an innovative approach through a strikingly wide variety of projects, ranging from urban interventions to airports, from museums to cultural centers and spaces for music, from convention centers to offices, from interiors to private houses and design collections.
With headquarters in Rome, Paris and Shenzhen, the practice has an international reputation and has completed more than 600 projects in Europe, Africa, America, Asia and Australia, receiving numerous international awards.
From large to small scale, the holistic approach of Studio Fuksas allows to devise completely integrated design solutions. With a cosmopolitan team, the practice designs by researching and challenging, by simply asking the right questions. Shenzhen Bao’an International Airport’s new Terminal 3, which his firm designed and built between 2008 and 2013 (with parametric design support by the engineering firm Knippers Helbig), is an outstanding example for the use of parametric design and production technologies in a large scale building that the practice has come to be associated with.
Moshe Safdie is an architect, urban planner, educator, theorist, and author. Embracing a comprehensive and
humane design philosophy, Safdie has shown commitment to architectural typologies that support and enhance a project’s program; that is informed by the geographic, social, and cultural elements that define a place; and that responds to human needs and aspirations.
Born in Haifa, Israel, in 1938, Safdie moved to Canada with his family at a young age. He graduated from McGill University in 1961 with a degree in architecture. After apprenticing with Louis I. Kahn in Philadelphia, Safdie returned to Montreal to oversee the master plan for the 1967 World Exhibition. In 1964 he established his own firm to realize Habitat ‘67, an adaptation of his thesis at McGill, which was the central feature of the World’s Fair and a groundbreaking design in the history of architecture.
In 1978, Safdie relocated his residence and principal office to Boston. He served as Director of the Urban Design Program at Harvard University Graduate School of Design from 1978 to 1984, and Ian Woodner Professor of Architecture and Urban Design from 1984 to 1989. In the following decade, he was responsible for the design of six of Canada’s principal public institutions, including the Quebec Museum of Civilization, the National Gallery of Canada, and Vancouver Library Square. Some of his most notable projects include: the acclaimed Habitat ‘67 in Montreal; the Artscience Museum and Marina Bay Sands, a museum and mixed-use integrated resort in Singapore; and the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem.
Lord Norman Foster (21st Pritzker Architecture Prize Laureate) was born in Manchester. After graduating from Manchester University School of Architecture and City Planning in 1961 he won a Henry Fellowship to Yale University, where he was a fellow of Jonathan Edwards College and gained a Master’s Degree in Architecture.
In 1963 he co-founded Team 4 and in 1967 he established Foster Associates, now known as Foster + Partners. Founded in London, it is now a worldwide practice while the company’s founder is one of the most famous architects with project offices in more than twenty countries. Over the past four decades the company has been responsible for a strikingly wide range of work, from urban master plans, public infrastructure, airports, civic and cultural buildings, offices and workplaces to private houses and product design. Since its inception, the practice has received 470 awards and citations for excellence and has won more than 86 international and national competitions.
Zumthor was born in Basel on 26 April 1943, the son of a cabinet-maker. He apprenticed to a carpenter in 1958 and studied at the Kunstgewerbeschule in his native city starting in 1963. In 1966, Zumthor studied industrial design and architecture as an exchange student at Pratt Institute in New York. And in 1968, he became conservationist architect for the Department for the Preservation of Monuments of the canton of Graubünden. This work on historic restoration projects gave him a further understanding of construction and the qualities of different rustic building materials.
Zumthor founded his own firm in 1979. He has taught at Southern California Institute of Architecture in Los Angeles, the Technical University of Munich, Tulane University and the Harvard Graduate School of Design. As his practice developed, Zumthor was able to incorporate his knowledge of materials into modernist construction and detailing. His buildings explore the tactile and sensory qualities of spaces and materials while retaining a minimalist feel.
His best known projects are the Kunsthaus Bregenz, a shimmering glass and concrete cube that overlooks Lake Constance in Austria; the cave-like thermal baths in Vals, Switzerland; the Swiss Pavilion for Expo 2000 in Hannover, an all-timber structure intended to be recycled after the event; the Kolumba Diocesan Museum (2007), in Cologne; and the Bruder Klaus Field Chapel, on a farm near Wachendorf. Currently, Zumthor works out of his small studio with around 30 employees, in Haldenstein, near the city of Chur, in Switzerland. His dedication has seen him declared the laureate of both the 2009 Pritzker Prize and 2013 RIBA Royal Gold Medal.
José Rafael Moneo Vallés is a Spanish architect who was born in Tudela, Spain on 9th May 1937. He won the Pritzker Prize for architecture in 1996 and the RIBA Royal Gold Medal in 2003. He studied at the ETSAM, Technical University of Madrid (UPM) from which he received his architectural degree in 1961. In 1963 he received a two-year fellowship to study at the Spanish Academy in Rome, which had a great influence on his later work. He has taught architecture at various locations around the world and from 1985 to 1990 was the chairman of Harvard Graduate School of Design, where he was the first Josep Lluís Sert Professor of Architecture.
Some of his prominent works around the world include: the National Museum of Roman Art in Mérida, Spain; the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles; the Murcia Town Hall on the Cardenal Belluga Plaza; and the Davis Art Museum at Wellesley College in Massachusetts. In 2012, he was awarded with 2012 Prince of Asturias Award for the Arts. According to the jury, Moneo is a Spanish architect of universal scope whose work enriches urban spaces with an architecture that is serene and meticulous. An acknowledged master in both the academic and professional field, Moneo leaves his own mark on each of his creations, at the same time as combining aesthetics with functionality, especially in the airy interiors that act as impeccable settings for great works of culture and the spirit.
Viñoly was born in Uruguay in 1944, and, by the age of twenty, he was a founding partner of Estudio de Arquitectura, which would become one of the largest design studios in Latin America. His celebrated early work transformed the landscape of Argentina, where this practice was based. In 1978, Viñoly moved to the United States. After briefly serving as a guest lecturer at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design, he settled in New York in 1979.
In 1983, Viñoly founded Rafael Viñoly Architects PC, a New York-based firm that has grown to encompass offices in London and Los Angeles. In 1989, he won an open international competition to design the Tokyo International Forum, the largest and most important cultural complex in Japan. Completed in 1996, this design secured Viñoly’s reputation as an architect of great imagination and immense professional rigor with a proven capacity to create beloved civic and cultural spaces. His forty-five years have been consistently driven by the belief that the essential responsibility of architecture is to elevate the public realm. As in his much-publicized proposal for the World Trade Center site, his deepest focus has been on maximizing the opportunity for civic investment generated by every construction project.
Cementing his place among famous architects, Viñoly’s work is marked by a sustained structural originality that transcends the passing fads of architectural movements. At home with both large-and small-scale projects, his recent work ranges from university buildings such as the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business and the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University, to leading-edge biomedical and nanosystems research facilities such as the University of California, Los Angeles, California NanoSystems Institute; the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Janelia Farm Research Campus in Virginia; and the John Edward Porter Neuroscience Research Center at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland.
Remment Lucas “Rem” Koolhaas ( born 17 November 1944) is a Dutch architect, architectural theorist, urbanist and Professor in Practice of Architecture and Urban Design at the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University. Koolhaas studied at the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London and at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. He is the founding partner of OMA, and of its research-oriented counterpart AMO based in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. He first came to public and critical attention with OMA (The Office for Metropolitan Architecture), the office he founded in 1975 together with architects Elia Zenghelis, Zoe Zenghelis and Madelon Vriesendorp (Koolhaas’s wife) in London.
In 2000, Rem Koolhaas won the Pritzker Prize.And in 2008, Time put him in their top 100 of The World’s Most Influential People. Koolhaas’ firm is now known almost exclusively for large-scale works, such as the CCTV Headquarters (named the “Best Tall Building in the World” in 2013) and the Seattle Library (which is widely regarded as one of the most important buildings of the 21st century). But OMA’s influence does not end with its diverse portfolio. Perhaps most importantly, the firm is a hotbed for architectural talent and innovation and boasts to have groomed some of the world’s front row designers including: Zaha Hadid, Joshua Prince Ramus, Bjarke Ingels, and Jeanne Gang (all who have made it to this list of 40 Famous Architects of the 21st Century).
Piano was born in Genoa, Italy, in 1937, into a family of builders. He was educated and subsequently taught at the Politecnico di Milano. He graduated from the university in 1964 and began working with experimental lightweight structures and basic shelters. He worked at the firm of iconic architect Louis Kahn in Philadelphia from 1965 to 1970 and later with Z.S. Makowsky in London. He then established an architectural firm with Richard Rogers named Piano & Rogers, where they worked together from 1971 to 1977. It is here that they designed their most famous project – the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris.
In 1981, Piano founded the Renzo Piano Building Workshop, which today employs 150 people and maintains offices in Paris, Genoa, and New York City. Piano has become known for his museum commissions, including the Morgan Library in New York City and the NEMO Science Museum in Amsterdam. Recently, a number of Piano’s most notable projects have been completed. These include skyscrapers such as the The New York Times Building in Midtown, Manhattan and the The Shard in London, Europe’s tallest skyscraper that was opened on July 6, 2012.
Piano won the Royal Gold Medal (1989); the Praemium Imperiale (1995); the Pritzker Prize (1998); the AIA Gold Medal (2008); and was in August 2013 appointed senator for life because of his “outstanding cultural achievements” by the President of the Italian Republic.
Richard Meier received his architectural training at Cornell University and established his own office in New York in 1963. His practice has included major civic commissions in the United States, Europe, and Asia, including courthouses and city halls, museums, corporate headquarters, and housing and private residences. Among his most well-known projects are The Getty Center in Los Angeles; the Jubilee Church in Rome, Italy; the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, Georgia; Perry and Charles Street Condominiums in New York, New York; the Canal+ Television Headquarters in Paris, France; and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Barcelona, Spain.
In 1984, Mr. Meier was awarded the Pritzker Prize for Architecture, considered the field’s highest honor. In the same year, he was selected architect for the prestigious commission to design The Getty Center in Los Angeles, which was opened to popular and critical acclaim in December 1997. In 1997, Richard Meier received the AIA Gold Medal, the highest award from the American Institute of Architects, and, in the same year, the Praemium Imperiale from the Japanese government in recognition of lifetime achievement in the arts. He is a Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects and the American Institute of Architects, and he received a Medal of Honor from the New York Chapter of the AIA in 1980 and a Gold Medal from the Los Angeles Chapter in 1998. In 1989 Meier received the Royal Gold Medal from the Royal Institute of British Architects.
Richard Rogers is the 2007 Pritzker Architecture Prize Laureate, the recipient of the RIBA Gold Medal in 1985 and winner of the 1999 Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation Medal. He is also winner of the 2000 Praemium Imperiale Prize for Architecture, the 2006 Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement (La Biennale di Venezia) and the 2007 Tau Sigma Delta Gold Medal. Richard Rogers was awarded the Légion d’Honneur in 1986, knighted in 1991 and made a life peer in 1996.
The idea of the piazza is a key preoccupation of Rogers’s. He understands that cities are made out of people, not buildings, and that the life between buildings is what matters. He thus considers cities to be a stage where people perform and that buildings are the sets that frame the performance.
But key to Roger’s philosophy is that; “Architecture is too complex to be solved by any one person. Collaboration lies at the heart of all my work. I enjoy the dynamic that flows when different disciplines, from sociology to mathematics, engineering to philosophy, come together to create solutions. This integration creates an ethos that best serves, and an aesthetic that best symbolises, the modern world. No-one is more integral to the clarity of a project that an enlightened client…”
London School of Economics
Robert A. M. Stern (born May 23, 1939), is a New York City and New Haven based American architect, professor, and academic writer. He received a bachelor’s degree from Columbia University in 1960 and a master’s degree in architecture from Yale University in 1965. Stern has cited Vincent Scully and Philip Johnson as early mentors and influences. He is currently the Dean of the Yale School of Architecture and also heads his own architecture firm, Robert A. M. Stern Architects, often referred to as RAMSA.
Stern is a representative of New Urbanism and New Classical Architecture, with a particular emphasis on urban context and the continuity of traditions. He may have been the first architect to use the term “postmodernism,” but more recently he has used the phrase “modern traditionalist” to describe his work. In 2011, Stern was honored with the renowned Driehaus Architecture Prize for his achievements in contemporary classical architecture. Some of his firm’s major works include New York City’s new classical 15 Central Park West, and the late modern Comcast Center skyscraper in Philadelphia.
Santiago Calatrava is a Spanish neo-futuristic architect who was born in Valencia on 28 July 1951. He studied architecture at Polytechnic University of Valencia and later civil engineering at Swiss Federal Institute of Technology. He went on to establish an architectural and engineering practice in Zurich in 1981.
Calatrava’s early career was largely dedicated to bridges and railway stations, with designs that elevated the status of civil engineering projects to new heights. His entry into high-rise design began with an innovative 54-story-high twisting tower called Turning Torso (2005), located in Malmö, Sweden. Since then, he has defined his style as bridging the division between structural engineering and architecture – with a very personal style derived from numerous studies of the human body and the natural world.
Sheila Sri Prakash
Sheila Sri Prakash is a globally celebrated architect and designer. Sheila has a B.Arch from the Anna University School of Architecture and Planning and also attended the Executive Education Program at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design. She founded Shilpa Architects in 1979 as a solo practitioner and was recently named to the 50 most influential names in Architecture and Design in 2015 by Architectural Digest and listed among a category of “Reinventors” for having “built a formidable legacy” and an “inspirational practice that designs societies and not merely buildings or cities”. She has over 1200 completed architectural projects in her portfolio. She addressed the Institute of Architects in Japan and spoke about Indo-centric sustainability.
In 2013, she was named the “Top 100″ architects in the world by the prestigious Italian Journal of Architecture – Il Giornale dell’ Architettura. She was involved with the London Olympics on invitation from The Honorable Prime Minister David Cameron, to enhance the sustainability of the Olympics Infrastructure. Her recommendations to the United Nations 2012 Rio+20 Summit in Brazil, have been adopted in the mandate for Sustainability presented to heads of nations. She also spoke at the Global Green Summit by Bloomberg in Singapore as a breakthrough thinker for her pioneering work on the “Reciprocal Design Index” that she developed at the World Economic Forum. It prescribes parameters and metrics surrounding sustainable design by extending the environmental framework of sustainability to factor socio-economics.
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Shigeru Ban (born on 5 August 1957) is a Japanese architect, known for his innovative work with paper, particularly recycled cardboard tubes used to quickly and efficiently house disaster victims. He was profiled by Time magazine in their projection of 21st century innovators in the field of architecture and design.
For Ban, one of the most important themes in his work is the “invisible structure”. That is, he does not overtly express his structural elements, but rather chooses to incorporate them into the design. Ban is not interested in the newest materials and techniques, but rather the expression of the concept behind his building.
In 2014, Ban was named the 37th recipient of the Pritzker Architecture Prize, the most prestigious prize in modern architecture. The Pritzker jury cited Ban for his innovative use of materials and his dedication to humanitarian efforts around the world – calling him “a committed teacher who is not only a role model for the younger generation, but also an inspiration…”
Steven Holl was born in 1947 in Bremerton, Washington. He graduated from the University of Washington and later pursued architecture studies in Rome. In 1976 he attended the Architectural Association in London and established Steven Holl Architects in New York City. Considered one of America’s most important architects, Steven Holl is recognized for his ability to blend space and light with great contextual sensitivity and to utilize the unique qualities of each project to create a concept-driven design. He specializes in seamlessly integrating new projects into contexts with particular cultural and historic importance.
Steven Holl has been recognized with architecture’s most prestigious awards and prizes. Recently, Steven Holl received the 2012 AIA Gold Medal, the RIBA 2010 Jencks Award, and the first ever Arts Award of the BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Awards (2009). In 2012, Steven Holl received the Alumnus Summa Laude Dignatus Award from the University of Washington. In 2003 he was named Honorary Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA). In 2002 the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum, part of the Smithsonian Institute, awarded him their prestigious National Design Award in Architecture. In 2001 France bestowed the Grande Médaille d’Or upon him, for Best Architect of the Academy of Architecture; and in the same year Time Magazine declared him “America’s Best Architect” for his ‘buildings that satisfy the spirit as well as the eye’.
Tadao Ando, who was born in 1941 is one of the most renowned contemporary Japanese architects. Characteristics of his work include large expanses of unadorned architectural concrete walls combined with wooden or stone floors and large windows. Active natural elements, like sun, rain, and wind are a distinctive inclusion to his style. He has designed many notable buildings, including Row House in Sumiyoshi, Osaka, 1976, which gave him the Annual Prize of Architectural Institute of Japan in 1979, Church of the Light, Osaka, 1989, Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts, St. Louis, 2001, Armani Teatro, Milan, 2001, Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, 2002 and 21_21 DESIGN SIGHT in Tokyo, 2007.
Among many awards he has received are; Gold Medal of Architecture, Academie d’Architecture (French Academy of Architecture) in 1989, The Pritzker Architecture Prize in 1995, Gold Medal of the American Institute of Architects in 2002, and Gold Medal of Union Internationale des Architectes in 2005. Ando is an honorary member of the American Institute of Architects, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, as well as the Royal Academy of Arts in London. He has been a visiting professor at Yale, Columbia, UC Berkeley and Harvard.
Sir Terry Farrell (born 12 May 1938) is a British architect and urban designer. He graduated with a degree from Newcastle University, followed by a Masters in urban planning at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. In 1980, after working 15 years in partnership with Sir Nicholas Grimshaw, Farrell founded his own firm, Terry Farrell & Partners (now known simply as Farrells). He garnered a strong reputation for contextual urban design schemes, as well as exuberant works of post-modernism.
In the early part of his career with Grimshaw, Farrell gave emphasis to housing projects. Later, after the break with Grimshaw, he became the UK’s principal postmodernist and his journey to the most famous architects list began with the TV-am headquarters in Camden Lock and the redevelopment of Comyn Ching Triangle in London’s Covent Garden. In the 80s and 90s his projects included Charing Cross Station, the MI6 headquarters building, the Deep Aquarium in Hull and the International Centre for Life in Newcastle. More recent work includes the new headquarters for the Home Office, the conversion of the Grade 1 listed Royal Institution of Great Britain and the Great North Museum in Newcastle.
Thom Mayne (born January 19, 1944) is a Los Angeles-based architect. Mayne was born in Waterbury, Connecticut. He studied architecture at the University of Southern California (1968) and later at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design in 1978, with a social agenda and urban planning focus. Receiving his bachelor’s degree, he began working as an urban planner under Korean-born architect Ki Suh Park. He is currently the director of Morphosis, an architectural firm in Santa Monica, California.
Mayne, along with Livio Santini, James Stafford and Michael Brickler, Michael Rotondi joined in 1975; have been able to create a design philosophy that arises from an interest in producing work with a meaning that can be understood by absorbing the culture for which it was made – with their goal being to develop an architecture that would eschew the normal bounds of traditional forms. The work of Morphosis has a layered quality. Visually, the firm’s architecture includes sculptural forms. In recent years, such visual effect has been made possible increasingly through computer design techniques, which simplify the construction of complex forms. Such accomplishments led to Mayne to receive the Pritzker Architecture Prize in 2005.
Thomas Alexander Heatherwick (born 17 February 1970) is an English designer and the founder of London-based design practice Heatherwick Studio. Since the late 1990s Heatherwick has emerged as one of Britain’s most gifted and imaginative designers. His innovative approach to design has earned him a reputation as an “ideas engine”.
Heatherwick was born in London and studied three-dimensional design at Manchester Polytechnic and at the Royal College of Art, winning several prizes. Whilst Heatherwick was at the RCA he met renowned designer Terence Conran. Conran became a mentor to Heatherwick after seeing his plan for a gazebo made of two, 6m high curved stacks of birch plywood and made its construction possible by inviting Heatherwick to work at his country home. Conran continued to mentor Heatherwick and later described him as “the Leonardo da Vinci of our times”.
Since 2010 Heatherwick has exhibited projects connected to national or local identity. These include the Olympic Cauldron, the New Routemaster bus, the first new double decker bus commissioned for London in 50 years, and the UK pavilion at Expo 2010. Heatherwick works with a team of over 150 architects, designers and makers from a combined studio and workshop in King’s Cross, London.
Toyo Ito ( born 1 June 1941) is a Japanese architect known for creating conceptual architecture, in which he seeks to simultaneously express the physical and virtual worlds. He is a leading exponent of architecture that addresses the contemporary notion of a “simulated” city, and has been called “one of the world’s most innovative and influential architects.” In 2013, Ito was awarded the Pritzker Prize. Born Seoul, Korea; Ito studied architecture at the University of Tokyo.
After working for Kiyonori Kikutake Architect and Associates from 1965 to 1969, Ito started his own studio in Tokyo, named Urbot (“Urban Robot”). And in 1979, the studio name was changed to Toyo Ito & Associates. Throughout his early career Ito constructed numerous private house projects that expressed aspects of urban life in Japan. His most remarkable early conceptual contributions were made through projects of this scale, such as White U (1976) and Silver Hut (1984). Other notable works include: Tower of Winds (1986) and Egg of Winds (1991) which are interactive landmarks in public spaces, resulting from a creative interpretation of contemporary technical possibilities.
William Pedersen is the founding Design Partner of Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates (KPF), which he started with A. Eugene Kohn and Sheldon Fox in 1976. Fourteen years later, they became the youngest firm to receive the National AIA Firm Award for design excellence. Since the firm’s inception, it has been Bill’s intention to lead only a segment of the firm’s designs, thereby allowing for the parallel development of other design partners and for his continued focus on each project he directs. This aspiration has led to stimulating competition within the KPF design community and has allowed the firm to expand in capacity and dimension while still maintaining design quality, particularly necessary since the advent of their global practice.
Of particular concern to Bill has been the development of what he calls the “fundamental building block of the modern city”: the high-rise commercial office building. Throughout his career, he has systematically sought ways for buildings of this seemingly-mundane type to gesture and connect to other participants so that each does not stand mutely in isolation from its neighbors, but rather joins in an active architectural conversation with them. He regards his accomplishments in this area of architectural pursuit as his most substantial accomplishments. Presently, he is at work on Hudson Yards in New York where his philosophical intentions for commercial buildings are being given the ultimate test.
Winy Maas (born 1958 in Schijndel) is a Dutch architect, landscape architect, professor and urbanist. In 1993 together with Jacob van Rijs and Nathalie de Vries he set up MVRDV. Early work such as the television centre Villa VPRO and the housing estate for elderly WoZoCo, both in the Netherlands, have brought him international acclaim and established MVRDV’s leading role in international architecture.
Maas completed his studies at the RHSTL Boskoop, graduating as a “landscape architect”, and in 1990 he got his degree from the Delft University of Technology. He currently is visiting professor of architectural design at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and is professor in architecture and urban design at the faculty of architecture, Delft University of Technology.
Dame Zaha Mohammad Hadid, DBE (born 31 October 1950), founder of Zaha Hadid Architects, was awarded the Pritzker Architecture Prize (considered to be the Nobel Prize of architecture) in 2004 and the Stirling Prize in 2010 and 2011. Hadid studied mathematics at the American University of Beirut before moving to London in 1972 to attend the Architectural Association (AA) School where she was awarded the Diploma Prize in 1977. She went on to become partner of the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) and taught at the AA alongside OMA collaborators Rem Koolhaas and Elia Zenghelis.
Each of her dynamic and innovative projects builds on over thirty years of revolutionary exploration and research in the interrelated fields of urbanism, architecture and design. Hadid’s interest lies in the rigorous interface between architecture, landscape and geology as her practice integrates natural topography and human-made systems, leading to experimentation with cutting edge technologies. Her outstanding contribution to the architectural profession continues to be acknowledged by the world’s most respected institutions including Forbes List of the ‘World’s Most Powerful Women’; TIME’s ‘100 Most Influential People in the World’ in 2012; and the Japan Art Association presenting her with the ‘Praemium Imperiale’ further cementing her presence as one of the most famous architects of our time.
Update (1/04/2016): Zaha Hadid passed away on 31st March, 2016 due to a heart attack while she was being treated for Bronchitis at a Miami Hospital. [Read: Architect Zaha Hadid Dies of Heart Attack Aged 65]