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.
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.
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.
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.
In her lifetime, Pritzker prize-winning architect, fashion designer and artist Zaha Hadid (31 October 1950 – 31 March 2016) became one of the most recognizable faces of our field. Revered and denounced in equal measure for the sensuous curved forms for which she was known, Hadid rose to prominence not solely through parametricism but by designing spaces to occupy geometries in new ways. Despite her tragically early death in March of 2016, the projects now being completed by her office without their original lead designer continue to push boundaries both creative and technological, while the fearless media presence she cultivated in recent decades has cemented her place in society as a woman who needs just one name: Zaha.
Founded in 1995 by architects Kazuyo Sejima (born 29 October 1956) and Ryue Nishizawa (born 7 February 1966), SANAA is world-renowned for its white, light buildings grounded in the architects’ Japanese cultural origins. Despite the white exteriors, their architecture is far from modernist; the constant incorporation of ambiguity and doubt in SANAA’s buildings is refreshing and playful, taking the reflective properties of glass and brightness of white to a new level.
All space must be attached to a value, to a public dimension. There is no private space. The only private space that you can imagine is the human mind.
– Paulo Mendes da Rocha, May 26, 2004
Paulo Mendes da Rocha is one of Brazil's greatest architects and urbanists. Born in Vitória, Espírito Santo in 1928, Mendes da Rocha won the 2006 Pritzker Prize, and is one of the most representative architects of the Brazilian Paulista School, also known as "Paulista Brutalism" that utilizes more geometric lines, rougher finishes and bulkier massing than other Brazilian Modernists such as Oscar Niemeyer.
One of the United States' leading architects of the Modernist era, Paul Marvin Rudolph (October 23, 1918 – August 8, 1997) was known for his contributions to modernism throughout the latter half of the 20th century. He served as the Chair of Yale University’s School of Architecture for six years and famously designed the Yale Art and Architecture Building, one of the earliest examples of Brutalist architecture in the United States.
As one of the founding members of Archigram, the avant-garde neo-futurist architecture group of the 1960s, the British architect, professor, and writer Sir Peter Cook (born 22 October 1936) has been a pivotal figure within the global architectural world for over half a century; one of his most significant works from his time with Archigram, The Plug-In City, still invokes debates on technology and society, challenging standards of architectural discourse today.
Sir Christopher Wren (20 October 1632 – 25 February 1723) is one the most significant architects in British history, and was a recognized astronomer, scholar, and physicist-mathematician. Wren was classically trained at the University of Oxford in physics and engineering where he developed his interest in architecture. He is perhaps most famous for designing London's iconic St Paul's Cathedral, however he is credited with the design of dozens of other churches, government buildings, and hospitals in England. Wren was knighted in 1673.
Alejandro Zaera-Polo (born October 17th 1963) is an internationally recognized architect and scholar, and founder of London, Zurich, and Princeton-based firm Alejandro Zaera-Polo & Maider Llaguno Architecture (AZPML). First rising to prominence in the 1980s with his writings for publications such as El Croquis, Zaera-Polo has had a prolific career in both the academic and professional realms of architecture.
Born in the small Swiss city of La Chaux-de-Fonds, Charles-Édouard Jeanneret-Gris—better known by his pseudonym Le Corbusier (October 6, 1887 – August 27, 1965)—is widely regarded as the most important architect of the 20th century. As a gifted architect, provocative writer, divisive urban planner, talented painter, and unparalleled polemicist, Le Corbusier was able to influence some of the world’s most powerful figures, leaving an indelible mark on architecture that can be seen in almost any city worldwide.
At the age of just 21 and while she was still finishing her undergraduate degree at Yale, Maya Lin (born October 5, 1959) won the design competition for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington DC. The memorial went on to become among the most recognizable designs in the world, and heralded a sea change for memorial design, breaking with classical conventions and dramatically changing the discourse of a typology.
Danish architect Bjarke Ingels (born 2 October 1974) is often cited as one of the most inspirational architects of our time. At an age when many architects are just beginning to establish themselves in professional practice, Ingels has already won numerous competitions and achieved a level of critical acclaim (and fame) that is rare for new names in the industry. His work embodies a rare optimism that is simultaneously playful, practical, and immediately accessible.
Architecture is art, but art vastly contaminated by many other things. Contaminated in the best sense of the word—fed, fertilized by many things.
– Renzo Piano
Italian architect Renzo Piano (born 14 September 1937) is known for his delicate and refined approach to building, deployed in museums and other buildings around the world. Awarded the Pritzker Prize in 1998, the Pritzker Jury compared him to Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Brunelleschi, highlighting "his intellectual curiosity and problem-solving techniques as broad and far ranging as those earlier masters of his native land."
As the recipient of the 1995 Pritzker Prize, Tadao Ando (born 13 September 1941) is highly regarded for his unparalleled work with concrete, sensitive treatment of natural light, and strong engagement with nature. Based in Osaka, Japan, Ando's ascetic yet rich version of modernism resonates with the traditional Japanese conception of architecture, and has caused him to be regularly referred to as a "critical regionalist."
Known as Chicago's "Father of Skyscrapers," Louis Sullivan (September 3, 1856 – April 14, 1924) foreshadowed modernism with his famous phrase "form follows function." Sullivan was an architectural prodigy even as a young man, graduating high school and beginning his studies at MIT when he was just 16. After just a year of study he dropped out of MIT, and by the time he was just 24 he had joined forces with Dankmar Adler as a full partner of Adler and Sullivan.