What criteria should be used in creating a list of the most famous architects of our time? With so many stunning examples of Modern and Postmodern Architecture, New Classical Architecture and many other types, there are hundreds of famous architects whose styles have already become part of the architectural pantheon. As in contemporary visual art, the works by those creators who bring innovations, change and make radical transformations in their practice are the ones that are remembered and that are the most celebrated. Often misunderstood in the beginning, these brave artists break the conventional rules and push the boundaries of their professions which is precisely the fact that singles them out among the many other talented creators.
Our time has seen radical shifts in architectural practice – from Modern to the Postmodern architecture, with many styles and examples that are hard to classify, from Deconstructivism to Brutalism and back. The most famous architects today are the ones who have made change; who inspired generations of others to go beyond the physical in investigating and exploring the possibilities of planning, designing, and constructing.
Among the list of the most famous architects are certainly Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Frank Lloyd Wright and many construction companies such as Antoni. But, even Mies van der Rohe's, Richard Meier, LLoyd Wright 's and Antoni 's works are today surpassed by structures designed by a new generation of constructors. Some of the most iconic landmarks from all over the world are in fact products of these famous architects and their work. Such structures are created with an extraordinary focus on forms, style and shapes, with concerns over functionality and by contemplating the complete freedom of form, resulting in astonishing innovations when it comes to aesthetics. Works by famous architects are usually reflecting social contexts in which they are created, often providing a new understanding of their spatial environment. After all, this field is about urban and social environment that is often reshaped by exactly by those we seek to honor. Finally, it appears that every time people might think that construction cannot go any further, new creative minds appear and move the boundaries of the art of building even further.
Editors’ Tip: Starchitects: Visionary Architects of the Twenty-first Century
The book entitled Starchitects: Visionary Architects of the Twenty-first Century is written by Julio Fajardo. It reveals the best practicing architects and architectural firms around the world: the stars of architecture, including designers such as Zaha Hadid and Frank Gehry and firms such as Morphosis and Future Systems. These architects and architectural firms create some of the most renowned structures in the world. The book presents best practices, including Lloyd Wright, Richard Meier, and many others. With full-color photos, drawings, and floor plans, Starchitects is a perfect reference guide for architects, designers, decorators, homeowners, students - or anyone interested in the celebrity of construction design.
In 2008, this famous architect found his place on the Time‘s list of the world’s 100 most influential people. Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas is widely considered one of the most important architectural theorists and urbanists of his generation. Laureate of the most important awards in the field of architecture, Koolhaas’ practice has often been a subject of controversies. Known as the first-rate provocateur, the famous architect shakes up established conventions; but, precisely that is what made him one of the leading architects of his generation. His book Delirious New York set the pace for his career. Among his many projects are: Euralille, Lille Grand Palais (with Cecil Balmond); Guggenheim Hermitage Museum, Las Vegas, Casa da Música (Porto, 2001–2005), Seoul National University Museum of Art, CCTV HQ (Beijing, 2004–2009), and many others.
Featured Image: Rem Koolhaas; CCTV Headquarters in Beijing (via buro-os.com)
One of the most famous architects of our time is Frank Gehry. This Canadian-born American architect created a number of world-renowned attractions. In 2010, Vanity Fair labeled him as "the most important architect of our age". It’s almost impossible to align Gehry’s oeuvre with broader stylistic tendencies or movements. His early works are deeply connected with Modernism, however, his later practice is characterized by the escape from modernist stylistics. Gehry is associated with the famous Los Angeles School or the Santa Monica School of architecture that gathers architects usually linked with the Postmodern one. Gehry's renowned works include the titanium-clad Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain; Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown Los Angeles; Louis Vuitton Foundation in Paris, France; MIT Ray and Maria Stata Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts, etc.
Featured Images: Frank Gehry; Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao (via best5.it)
Bjarke Ingels is only 41 years old, yet his practice made him one of the most renowned architects of our time. This Danish architect is famous for structures that defy traditional architectural conventions and dimensions, ranging from representations of mountains to snowflakes. He is very much concerned with sustainable development, while his designs incorporate sociological concepts. Ingels is also a theoretician. He defines architecture as "the art of translating all the immaterial structures of society – social, cultural, economical and political – into physical structures." While most of his projects were created in Copenhagen, Inglels moved to New York City in 2012, where he is designing the new Two World Trade Center building.
Featured Images: Bjarke Ingels (via quotationof.com); Bjarke Ingels - 8 House (via visitdenmark.com)
Renzo Piano was recently appointed Senator for Life in the Italian Senate; he has the titled of The Order of Merit of the Italian Republic; in 2006, he was selected by TIME Magazine one of the 100 most influential people in the world; in 1998, he won the Pritzker Architecture Prize. We could continue with all the titles and awards Piano received, but this only proves that he is one of the most famous architects of our time. Often working in collaboration with fellow architects, Piano became globally renowned when he designed, together with the Italian architect Gianfranco Franchini, the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris (1971). The New York Times has declared that this design "turned the architecture world upside down". Recent Piano’s notable projects include skyscrapers such as The New York Times Building in Midtown, Manhattan and The Shard in London, the tallest skyscraper in the European Union.
Featured Images: Renzo Piano (via calacademy.org); The Shard (via mace.world)
Jean Nouvel is a French architect, who has received the most important rewards in the field of construction design. Some of them are the Wolf Prize in Arts in 2005 and the Pritzker Prize in 2008. The jury of the Pritzker prize noted: “Of the many phrases that might be used to describe the career of architect Jean Nouvel, foremost are those that emphasize his courageous pursuit of new ideas and his challenge of accepted norms in order to stretch the boundaries of the field. [...] The jury acknowledged the 'persistence, imagination, exuberance, and, above all, an insatiable urge for creative experimentation' as qualities abundant in Nouvel's work.” Among his notable works are: Arab World Institute, Paris, France; Torre Agbar (Office), Barcelona, Spain; Musée du quai Branly, Paris, France; 100 Eleventh Avenue, Manhattan, NY, USA, and many others.
Featured Images: Jean Nouvel (via nymag.com); Arab World Institute HD (via 4hdwallpapers.com)
The Lord Foster of Thames Bank, Norman Foster, is the most famous British architect of his generation. He focuses on sleek, modern offices made of steel and glass. His first building to receive international acclaim was the Sainsbury Centre for the Visual Arts in Norwich, England. At the turn of the 21st century, he began working on world landmarks, including rebuilding the Reichstag in Berlin after the reunification of Germany. The list of works by this great architect is huge. Some notable examples are: Commerzbank Tower, Frankfurt, Germany; World Port Center, Rotterdam, The Netherlands; Reichstag restoration, Berlin, Germany; Millennium Bridge, London, UK; Wembley Stadium, London, UK, and many others.
Featured Images: Norman Foster (via walterknoll.de); Millennium Bridge in London (via chsrentals.com)
SANAA (Sejima and Nishizawa and Associates) is a multiple award-winning architectural firm based in Tokyo, Japan. It’s consisted of two famous architects: Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa. Their practice has been awarded numerous times, including Pritzker Prize in 2010. The works of SANAA are very far from modernist architecture, as the architects continue to incorporate elements of doubt and ambiguity into their works. Use of glass and playful elements are most notable features of their practice. They designed dozens of highly aesthetic and experimental structures in Japan, Europe and USA.
Featured Images: SANAA (via dac.dk); Zollverein School of Management and Design (Essen, Germany) by SANAA [via archdialy.com]
One of the most innovative architects of our time is certainly Peter Eisenman. This famous American designer is known for his writing and lectures, as well as his designs, which have been called high modernist or deconstructive. His professional portfolio is often referred to as formalist, deconstructionist and late avant-garde. Eisenman’s approach is very much characterized by deconstruction and post-structuralism. He was close with famous Postmodern French philosopher Jacques Derrida whose approach influenced Eisenman’s. Eisenman is famous for the project Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe in Berlin. His other notable works are: Wexner Center for the Arts, Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio; Aronoff Center for Design and Art, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio; University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Arizona, etc.
Featured Images: Peter Eisenman (via architectuul.com); Wexner Center for the Arts, Ohio State University
Among the most notable architects of our time we need to place the one Ben van Berkel. This Dutch architect is best-known for his practice at UNStudio, which is specializing in architecture, urban development and "infrastructural" projects. Based in Amsterdam, van Berkel has designed projects around the globe. Some of the most notable projects include: Erasmus Bridge, Rotterdam; The new Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart; Burnham Pavilion, Chicago; Arnhem Centraal station, Netherlands, and many others.
Featured Images: Ben van Berkel (via uncubemagazine.com); Erasmus Bridge, Rotterdam (via bridgeinfo.net)
In summer 2016, the world was shocked by the news of the sudden death of one of the most famous architects in the world – Zaha Hadid. Zaha Hadid has a reputation as the planet's top female architect. She was the first woman in history to receive the Pritzker Architecture Prize, in 2004. Hadid was also a pioneer of parametricism, and an icon of neo-futurism. She is known for highly expressive, sweeping fluid forms of multiple perspective points and fragmented geometry that evoke the chaos and flux of modern life. Some of the most notable projects of the famous architect include: MAXXI – National Museum of the 21st Century Arts (1998–2010), Rome, Italy; Guangzhou Opera House (2010), Guangzhou; London Aquatics Centre (2011), 2012 Summer Olympics, London, United Kingdom, without counting dozens of other impressive projects.
Featured Images: Zaha Hadid; Heydar Aliyev Cultural Centre in Baku, Azerbaijan. All Images used for illustrative purposes only.
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