Like Father, Like Son: 4 Famous Architecture Dynasties

While Eliel and Eero Saarinen may be the most well known father-son architect duo, they are certainly not the only pair to have left their mark in the field. As far back as the 1700s, the Gabriel father and son dynasty (Jacques V and Ange-Jacques) constructed much of Versailles, and more recently both I.M. Pei and Lewis Davis have passed their legacy onto their sons. In honor of Father's Day, we look at four father-son architecture dynasties and their lasting influence on the profession, after the break.

1.  The Behnisches: Günter and Stefan

Munich Olympic Stadium / Frei Otto and Gunther Behnisch. Image © Wikimedia Commons

In 1966, Günter Behnische, the late father, founded Behnisch & Partner, best known for designing Munich’s 1972 Olympic Stadium in collaboration with Frei Otto. In 1989, his son, Stefan, opened Behnisch Architekten as a branch office of his dad’s firm. Four years later, it became a completely independent operation, internationally renowned for its sustainability expertise. The two firms ran in parallel for 16 years, until Gunter’s retirement and closure of the firm in 2005. Stefan continues to preserve the spirit of some his father’s buildings, while upgrading them with 21st century sustainable technologies.

Inzell Speed Skating Stadium / Behnisch Architekten + Pohl Architekten. Image © Meike Hansen

Günter’s practice was “very much about the human experience of architecture: how the individual moves through the building, experiences space, interacts with other people, is impacted by things like color and daylight,” said Boston partner Matt Noblett.

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See more projects by Behnisch Architekten here.

2. The Saarinens: Eero and Eliel

Gateway Arch / Eero Saarinen. Image © Exothermic

Eliel and Eero Saarinen are probably the most celebrated of the father-son architects, sharing more than just a last name. Both were awarded AIA Gold Medals and they were born on the same day (August 20). Eliel, the father, immigrated to the US from Finland when Eero was 13. The two worked together until Eliel’s death in 1950, when Eero subsequently opened his own office.

Helsinki Central Railway Station / Eliel Saarinen. Image © Flickr user Mariano Mantel,

While Eliel was most known for his art nouveau works in Finland, such as the Helsinki Central railway station, Eero was a leader of the International Style, designing a myriad of buildings across the United States, including the St. Louis Gateway Arch. Other projects carried at by Eero include the MIT Chapel, Dulles International Airport, David S. Ingalls Skating Rink and the Miller House.

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Learn more about Eero and Eliel here.

3. The Peis: I.M., Chieng Chun (Didi), and Li Chung (Sandi)

Le Grande Louvre / I.M. Pei. Image © Greg Kristo. ImageLe Grande Louvre

One of the greatest modern architects, I.M. Pei had two sons that inherited their father’s passion for design: Chieng Chun (Didi), and Li Chung (Sandi). They spent around 20 years contributing to the work of I.M. Pei’s firm, which designed the expansion to the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., the Louvre Pyramid, the Bank of China Tower in Hong Kong and the JFK Presidential Library in Boston, among numerous other projects. The two then co-founded the New York-based Pei Partnership Architects in 1992. Although I.M. Pei retired from full-time practice in 1990, both firms are still active, and he often does architectural consulting for his sons’ firm.

Bank of China Tower / I.M. Pei. Image © Stephen Chipp -

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Learn more about I.M. Pei here.

4. The Davises: Lewis and Steven

St. Elizabeths East Gateway Pavilion / Davis Brody Bond. Image © Eric Taylor

Lewis Davis, the father, is known for Brutalist apartment towers as well as ornate Beaux-Arts landmarks in New York City. He co-founded Davis Brody Bond, where his son Steven is now a partner, and carrying on his legacy. Stephen was a key architect for the National September 11 Memorial and Museum at the World Trade Center.

9/11 Memorial Museum / Davis Brody Bond. Image Courtesy of Flickr CC Thomas Bunton

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See more projects by Davis Brody Bond here.

About this author
Cite: AD Editorial Team. "Like Father, Like Son: 4 Famous Architecture Dynasties" 21 Jun 2015. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

Gateway Arch / Eero Saarinen. Image Courtesy of Flickr CC Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, NPS


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