Often, it is only with hindsight that we can truly understand our world; looking back at how important certain events and people proved to be is much easier than predicting their importance at the time. Still, guessing who will be remembered in posterity is a fun game, so The Atlantic asked various industry leaders "Who Will Tomorrow's Historians Consider Today's Greatest Inventors?" The answers span across business, science, technology and design, and among the 9 nominations there are a few names that architects and urban designers may find interesting. Read on after the break to find out just who they are.
Perhaps the most directly architecture-relevant nomination is co-founder and CEO of MASS Design Group, Michael Murphy. Under Murphy's leadership, MASS Design Group has become a leader in public interest design, with high-profile and genuinely transformational projects such as their Butaro Hospital and their Umubano Primary School in Rwanda.
Sadik-Khan, in her role as Commissioner at the New York City Department of Transportation, has spearheaded the transformation of New York into a model city for pedestrian travel, bike-share schemes and public spaces. Her approach, however, is not purely ideological: she is "data-driven" and uses these transportation schemes to improve the city's economic performance as well as making it a more pleasant environment.
Dangermond founded the Environmental Systems Research Institute in 1969 as a creator of paper maps for land-use planning. Now, ESRI is the global leader in Geographic-Information-Systems (GIS) software, which helps consolidate information, such as land use, climate and other data, that informs the development of cities. As described by the nominator Richard Wurman, "What Jack produces is the underpinning of how we understand our world."
The only person on the list to be nominated more than once (he was nominated three times), Musk is best known for Paypal, Tesla Motors and SpaceX. However, it's his most recent project which makes him relevant to the world of urban design: his outlandish proposal for the Hyperloop, a train link that would travel from LA to San Francisco in 35 Minutes, might be questionable, but the senior vice-president of Google Susan Wojcicki notes that “Elon Musk is one of the few people who can propose the Hyperloop and be taken seriously.”
You can view the full list of nominations across all sectors here.