Sometimes referred to as “the leading environmental architect of our time,” in his roles as architect, designer, author, educator and social leader, William McDonough (born 20 February 1951) has provided a renewed look at the things that we make and their impact on both our bodies and the world. Through his Cradle to Cradle philosophy, McDonough’s buildings are designed to function for a predetermined lifespan, after which they can be broken down into their various parts whose core elements can be used anew to solve a different design problem.
Louis Kahn (February 20th 1901 – March 17th 1974) was one of the United States' greatest 20th century architects, known for combining Modernism with the weight and dignity of ancient monuments. Though he did not arrive at his distinctive style until his early 50s, and despite his death at the age of just 73, in a span of just two decades Kahn came to be considered by many as part of the pantheon of modernist architects which included Le Corbusier and Mies van der Rohe.
As one of the key figures of midcentury Modernism and perhaps Finland's most celebrated architect, Alvar Aalto (3 February 1898 – 11 May 1976) was known for his humanistic approach to Modernism. For his characteristically Finnish take on architecture, Aalto has become a key reference point for architecture in the Nordic countries, and his commitment to creating a total work of art left many examples of his design genius not only in buildings but also in their interior features, including furniture, lamps, and glassware design.
Every work of art is an interpretation of the world, of what you are thinking; a realization of your perception which creates and attempts a different world. In the end, a work of art is merely an offering to art.
Mexican-Spanish architect Félix Candela (Jan 27, 1910 – Dec 7, 1997) was known for redefining the role of the architect in relation to structural problems, and played a crucial role in the development of new structural forms of concrete. His famous experimentation with concrete gave rise to projects like the Los Manantiales restaurant in the Xochimilco area of Mexico City and the Cosmic Rays Pavilion for the National Autonomous University of Mexico.
The career of Gottfried Böhm (born January 23, 1920) spans from simple to complex and from sacred to secular, but has always maintained a commitment to understanding its surroundings. In 1986, Böhm was awarded the eighth Pritzker Prize for what the jury described as his "uncanny and exhilarating marriage" of architectural elements from past and present. Böhm's unique use of materials, as well as his rejection of historical emulation, have made him an influential force in Germany and abroad.
The principal architect of LA firm Morphosis, Thom Mayne (born January 19, 1944) was the recipient of the 2005 Pritzker Prize and the 2013 AIA Gold Medal, and is known for his experimental architectural forms, often applying them to significant institutional buildings such as the New York's Cooper Union building, the Emerson College in Los Angeles and the Caltrans District 7 Headquarters.
The career of British architect David Chipperfield (born 18 December 1953) has spanned decades and continents as an architect, designer and professor. Since 1984, he has been at the helm of David Chipperfield Architects, an award winning firm with over 180 staff at offices in London, Berlin, Milan, and Shanghai. Chipperfield is an honorary fellow of the American Institute of Architects and Germany's Bund Deutscher Architekten, and was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 2004. In 2012, Chipperfield curated the Venice Biennale of Architecture under the theme Common Ground.
Charles (June 17, 1907 – August 21, 1978) and Ray Eames (December 15, 1912 – August 21, 1988) are best known for their personal and artistic collaboration, and their innovative designs that shaped the course of modernism. Their firm worked on a diverse array of projects, with designs for exhibitions, furniture, houses, monuments, and toys. Together they developed manufacturing processes to take advantage of new materials and technology, aiming to produce high quality everyday objects at a reasonable cost. Many of their furniture designs are considered contemporary classics, particularly the Eames Lounge & Shell Chairs, while the Eames House is a seminal work of architectural modernism.
Oscar Ribeiro de Almeida Niemeyer Soares Filho, or simply Oscar Niemeyer, (December 15, 1907 – December 5, 2012) was one of the greatest architects in Brazil's history, and one of the greats of the global modernist movement. After his death in 2012, Niemeyer left the world more than five hundred works scattered throughout the Americas, Africa, and Europe.
Relatively unknown outside his home country, Clorindo Testa (December 10, 1923 – April 11, 2013) was one of Argentina’s most important 20th-century architects. Consistently defying categorization, Testa had a hand in two of Buenos Aires’ most iconic buildings, the Bank of London and South America, and the National Library, as well as many others throughout his long career. Characteristically enigmatic, Testa would only ever acknowledge Le Corbusier as an influence, saying, “I never paid attention to other architects.” As a former colleague Juan Fontana described, Testa spoke the language of brutalism with an Argentine accent.
Adolf Loos (December 10, 1870 – August 23, 1933) was one of the most influential European architects of the late 19th century and is often noted for his literary discourse that foreshadowed the foundations of the entire modernist movement. As an architect, his influence is primarily limited to major works in what is now Austria and the Czech Republic, but as a writer he had a major impact on the development of 20th century architecture, producing a series of controversial essays that elaborated on his own architectural style by decrying ornament and a range of social ills. Adolf Loos’s minimalist attitudes are reflected in the works of Le Corbusier, Mies van der Rohe, and many other modernists and led to a fundamental shift in the way architects perceived ornamentation.
As the founder of Steven Holl Architects, Steven Holl (born December 9, 1947) is recognized as one of the world's leading architects, having received prestigious awards for his contributions to design over the course of nearly forty years in practice, including the prestigious Alvar Aalto Medal in 1998, the AIA Gold Medal in in 2012, and the 2014 Praemium Imperiale. In 1991, Time Magazine named Holl America's Best Architect. He is revered for his ability to harness light to create structures with remarkable sensitivity to their locations, while his written works have been published in many preeminent volumes, sometimes collaborating with world-renowned architectural thinkers such as Juhani Pallasmaa and Alberto Pérez-Gómez.
Lina Bo Bardi (December 4, 1914 – March 20, 1992) was one of the most important and expressive architects of 20th century Brazilian architecture. Born in Italy as Lina Achillina Bo, she studied architecture at the University of Rome, moving to Milan after graduation. In Milan, Bo Bardi collaborated with Gio Ponti, and later become editor of the magazine Quiaderni di Domus.
With her office destroyed in World War II Bo Bardi, along with Bruno Zevi, founded the publication A Cultura della Vita. As a member of the Italian Communist Party, she met the critic and art historian Pietro Maria Bardi, with whom she would move permanently to Brazil.
Ricardo Bofill (born 5 December 1939), a graduate of the Barcelona University School of Architecture and the School of Geneva, and the founder of interdisciplinary firm Taller de Arquitectura, is renowned for his extensive body of work and ever-changing design aesthetic. His career has spanned over 50 years, encompassing more than 1000 buildings in cities ranging from Lisbon and Boston to Tokyo and St. Petersburg. His architectural approach has evolved over the decades and has permeated dozens of countries worldwide.
Minoru Yamasaki (December 1, 1912 – February 7, 1986) has the uncommon distinction of being most well known for how his buildings were destroyed. His twin towers at the World Trade Center in New York collapsed in the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001, and his Pruitt-Igoe complex in St. Louis, Missouri, demolished less than 20 years after its completion, came to symbolize the failure of public housing and urban renewal in the United States. But beyond those infamous cases, Yamasaki enjoyed a long and prolific career, and was considered one of the masters of “New Formalism,” infusing modern buildings with classical proportions and sumptuous materials.
Founder of the innovative architecture firm MAD Architects, Ma Yansong (born 26 November 1975) has helped to give China a name in the international architecture scene. The first Chinese architect to receive a RIBA fellowship, Ma explores contemporary architecture in relation to traditional eastern values of nature, resulting in buildings that are complex and contextually aware, but sometimes even surreal.
With the extensive list of acclaimed alumni of his firm, OMA, it is not a stretch to call Rem Koolhaas (born 17 November 1944) the godfather of contemporary architecture. Equal parts theorist and designer, over his 40-year career Koolhaas has revolutionized the way architects look at program and interaction of space, and today continues to design buildings that push the capabilities of architecture to new places.
Wang Shu (born November 4, 1963) is a Hangzhou-based architect and dean at the China Academy of Art, known for his thoughtful resistance to what he considers “professionalized, soulless architecture.” His honoring of local tradition, environment, and craftsmanship saw him become the first Chinese citizen, and one of the youngest people overall, to receive the Pritzker Prize in 2012 for "an architecture that is timeless, deeply rooted in its context and yet universal.”