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12 Architects that Changed the World

24 January 2011 135 Comments

From time to time, there is a great artist that changes the way we perceive masterpieces and other people and gives us new emotions. Still, humanity gives birth to visionaries in other domains as well. And architecture is yet another great field where these bright minds create marvels and change perspectives.

Some architects are even responsible for creating masterpieces with an emotional impact on people and can change the way we perceive cities and countries. Artists or not, these farsighted architects, were and many continue to be, the masters in redesigning our future. Here are 12 great builders that through their innovation spirit and devotion changed our world.

1. Oscar Niemeyer (b. December 15, 1907)

1. Oscar Niemeyer

His portrait

Oscar Ribeiro de Almeida Niemeyer Soares Filho is considered to be a pioneer in creating new possibilities for using the reinforced concrete just for aesthetical reasons. He started with designing the first state-sponsored skyscraper in the world, for the Brazilian government. It was completed in 1943 and after decades it was recognized as the first example of Brazilian modernism.

He was part of the international team that designed the UN headquarters in New York and his conceptual plan was the main source of inspiration for the constructors. His membership in the Brazilian Communist Party limited his chances of working in the United States and got him exiled up until 1985. By the time the exile ended, he designed the main administration buildings in Brasilia, the country’s new capital city.

While in Europe, he created several buildings, including the headquarters of the French Communist Party and the Mondadori Publishing House office near Milan. After returning to his home-country, Niemeyer continued to design impressive structures around Brazil such as: Niterói Contemporary Art Museum, the Catedral Militar Igreja de N. S. da Paz, the Memorial dos Povos Indigenas and many others. At his age (103), he continues to work at his office in Rio de Janiero.


His work

Museu de Arte Contemporânea de Niterói


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Museu Oscar Niemeyer


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2. Antoni Gaudí (25 June 1852 – 10 June 1926)

2. Antoni Gaudí

His portrait

Antoni Plàcid Guillem Gaudí i Cornet was a Catalan architect that although worked during the Art Nouveau times, several other influences can be noticed in his works. Those made him famous for their unique design that went beyond the limitations of Modernism. The Gaudi’s signature city is Barcelona, but his early works include several other projects around Spain.

As a devoted Catholic, he designed a structure that will become one of the most populous churches in the world – Sagrada Familia. He designed it to have 18 towers – 12 for the 12 apostles, 4 for the 4 evangelists, one for Mary and one for Jesus. The work on Sagrada Familia commenced in 1882 and is expected to be completed in 2026.

Gaudí’s masterpiece is a combination of three styles – Spanish Late Gothic, Baroque and Art Nouveau. The plan of the building is truly unique, characterized by a remarkable complexity: there are double aisles, three portals and three façades. The whole structure is 90 meters long, 60 meters wide and it will be 170 meters high when the last tower will be finished.

Park Güel is one more of his works and another landmark in Barcelona. It is considered a municipal garden and the entrance is free. The park features a terrace and a long bench in the form of a sea serpent, roadways with built in bird nests and colonnaded footpaths and many more. Other brilliant works of Gaudi include Casa Cavalet, Casa Vicens, Casa Batlló and Casa Millà.


His work

La Sagrada Familia

Barcelona April 2004

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Casa Millà

2.Casa Millà

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Casa Batlló

2. Casa Batlló

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3. Louis Sullivan (3 September 1856 – 14 April 1924)

3. Louis Sullivan

His portrait

Louis Henri Sullivan is definitely the father of modern architecture. His particular style is characterized by a simplification of form, while the ornamental details are given by the structure and the theme of the building. Sullivan is considered the creator of the modern skyscraper, due to its participation to the construction boom in Chicago that followed the Great Fire of 1871.

Louis Sullivan was one of the first architects at his time to embrace the column-frame construction technique, which allowed taller buildings with larger windows to be erected. This method used steel girders, suspended from the walls, floors and ceilings in order to carry all the weight of the building. He was hired by Dankmar Adler in 1879, with whom he designed famous structures like: The Auditorium Building in Chicago, Wainwright Building in St. Louis and Prudential Building in Buffalo, New York.

The Auditorium Building is one of his best-known designs and it was first the home for the Chicago Civic Opera and Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Nowadays it stands a national historic landmark. His individual works include The Sullivan Center (formerly known as Carson, Pirie, Scott and Company Building) in Chicago, the Bayard-Condict Building in New York City and the Krause Music Store in Chicago. All of his personal structures were enriched with Art Nouveau details. Through Louis Sullivan, the Art Nouveau style originally emerged in Belgium crossed not only borders, but oceans too.


His work

The Prudential Building

3.The Prudential Building

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Krause Music Store

3.Krause Music Store

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Bayard-Condict Building

3.Bayard-Condict Building

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4. Frank Gehry (b. 28 February 1929)

4. Frank Gehry

His portrait

Awarded with “the most important architect of our age” by Vanity Fair, Frank Gehry has an amazing portfolio, whose works are said to be the masterpieces of contemporary architecture. Even if this statement might be arguable, one thing is clear: Gehry’s buildings (including his private residence) are world’s hottest tourist attractions. He was the only major architect of our times that became famous through his private residence in Santa Monica, California.

Frank Gehry is definitely an advocate of the Deconstructivism. This style, also called DeCon architecture, is a development of postmodern architecture characterized by ideas of fragmentation by manipulating the surfaces. Unlike the most styles in use, the main belief in DeCon is that forms do not follow function. Although many specialists are criticizing this type of buildings, they always manage to catch a passerby’s eye.

Gehry designed tens of buildings all over the world and currently another 23 projects are in construction or on hold. Some of his most prominent works include: The Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, The Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Der Neue Zollhof in Düsseldorf and the Marqués de Riscal Vineyard Hotel in Elciego.


His work

The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao


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Der Neue Zollhof

4.Der Neue Zollhof

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Marqués de Riscal Vineyard Hotel

4.Marqués de Riscal Vineyard Hotel

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5. Ieoh Ming Pei (b. 26 April 1917)

5.Ieoh Ming Pei

His portrait

Pei was born in China and at the age of 17 he came in United States of America to study architecture. 76 years later, he is deservingly called one of the greatest masters of modern architecture. He is well-known for his large, abstract geometrical forms and for incorporating the traditional Chinese style in his work.

Pei started his career in 1950 with the design of quite a regular corporate building in Atlanta, Georgia. After establishing his own company, in 1955 he focused on urban projects such as the Kips Bay Towers in Manhattan, New York City or the Society Hill Towers. He started to make a real difference with the Mesa Laboratory, located just outside Boulder, Colorado. The new laboratory fitted amazingly well in the local landscape and years later became an award-winning masterpiece due to its aesthetic features, its functionality and the durability in time.

His following projects included new buildings for some American universities, airport terminals, public libraries and even city halls. He soon started designing buildings all over the world for governments, international banks and prestigious cultural institutions.

Pei’s most popular works are: The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston, The National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C., Le Grand Louvre (The Pyramid) in Paris, The Bank of China Tower in Hong Kong and the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha.


His work

Le Grand Louvre

5,Le Grand Louvre

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The Bank of China Tower

5.The Bank of China Tower

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Museum of Islamic Art

Museum of Islamic Art

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6. Alvar Aalto (3 February 1898 – 11 May 1976)

6.Alvar Aalto

His portrait

Aalto was contemporary with the economic boom and with the industrialization of Finland, therefore many of his clients were major Scandinavian industrialists. No less than four architectural styles are reflected in his work he has done throughout the years, that is why in our times Aalto remains one of the most versatile architects of the world.

In the 1920s, Aalto was and adept of the Nordic Classicism style and he expressed himself through a series of single family houses. Functionalism is the second style he tried and his best work in this period is the library of Viipuri, in present called Vyborg, Russia. This structure is particularly famous for its wave-shaped ceiling in the main auditorium, while the exterior has a typical modernist structure.

His mid career was marked by experimentation, a time of redbrick buildings that started with the Baker House of the MIT and reached its apogee with the design of the Helsinki’s University of Technology. Monumentalism is unfortunately his last career stage. Two of his greatest projects are the Finlandia Hall in Helsinki and the Aalto Theater Opera House in Essen, completed after his death.


His work

University of Technology

6.University of Technology

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Finlandia Hall

6. Finlandia Hall

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Aalto Theater Opera House


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7. Le Corbusier (6 October 1887 – 27 August 1965)

7. Le Corbusier

His portrait

Charles-Édouard Janneret, known under the pseudonym Le Corbusier (French for “the raven-like one”), was not only an architect and a pioneer of the International Style, but also a designer, urbanist, writer and painter. He was one of the first in his branch that was concerned by the quality of life in big, crowded cities.

Le Corbusier started his five decade career with designing villas through the use of modern techniques. He designed Villa Savoye near Paris, a construction that is said to be a milestone for modern architecture. This was Le Corbusier’s idea of a machine a habiter (“a machine for living in”), a remarkable project that proved to be as beautiful and functional as a machine.

Le Corbusier thought that his austere and unornamented buildings will help to build cleaner and brighter cities in the future. This concept lead to two developments: The German Bauhaus style, concerned on the social aspects of designing buildings and America’s International Style – a symbol of the Capitalism, a prevailing style among the office builders and upper-class people. Le Corbusier’s major buildings include Unité d’Habitation in Marseille, The National Museum of Western Art in Tokyo, Chapelle Notre Dame du Haut in Ronchamp and The Centre Le Corbusier in Zürich.


His works

The Centre Le Corbusier

7.The Centre Le Corbusier

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Unité d’Habitation


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Chapelle Notre Dame du Haut

7.Chapelle Notre Dame du Haut

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8. Santiago Calatrava (b. 28 July 1951)

8. Santiago Calatrava

His portrait

Calatrava was born in Valencia and is one of the greatest architects, sculptors and structural engineers Spain has seen in the last century. The early world-wide recognition led to offices opening in Valencia, Zürich, Paris and New York City.

He started his career running numerous civil engineering projects, such as bridges and train stations. The bridge Puente del Alamillo in Seville is the most prominent work as a civil engineer and it rapidly became a landmark of the city. The Montjuic Communications Tower in Barcelona and the Allen Lambert Galleria were his first works as an architect. The 54-story twisting tower in Malmö, Sweden (HSB Turning Torso) was also designed by Calatrava and is the second tallest residential buildings in Europe.

Calatrava has less than two decades of designing amazing buildings, but he holds an impressive portfolio that will open more record-breaking opportunities in the future. He is currently designing the future station at World Trade Center Transportation Hub and it is planning numerous other projects.


His work

Puente del Alamillo

8.Puente del Alamillo

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Ciutat de les Arts i les Ciències

8.Ciutat de les Arts i les Ciències

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Turning Torso


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9. Walter Burley Griffin (24 November 1876 – 11 February 1937)

9.Walter Burley Griffin His portrait

Walter Burley Griffin is an American architect and landscape architect that designed Canberra, Australia’s capital city. He developed the L-shaped floor plan and the carport and it was the first user of reinforced concrete.

In 1911 the Australian Government held an international competition to build the country’s new capital city. Griffin also participated in the contest and his plan was selected as a winner in the next year. World War I broke out in 1914, so the funds for the new capital were considerably diminished. Griffin confronted himself with slower progress of working than he expected.

The creation of a Federal Committee to supervise his work in 1920 made Griffin to resign from the project and completely withdraw from any further activity in Canberra. All of his buildings plans for Australia’s new capital were never built. Afterwards, he opened offices in Melbourne and Sydney. One of the first major projects after leaving Canberra was the Capitol Theatre in Melbourne.

In America, his work consisted of building family houses in the states of Illinois and Iowa. He also got the chance of designing Newman College at the University of Melbourne, Palais de Danse in St. Kilda (later destroyed by a fire) and Castlecrag, a suburb of Sydney.


His work

Canberra city plan

9.Canberra city plan

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Capitol Theatre

8.Capitol Theatre

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Newman College

.Newman College

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10. Norman Foster (b. 1 June 1935)

10.Norman Foster

His portrait

Foster is Britain’s greatest builder of landmark office buildings. After earning his Masters degree at the Yale School of Architecture, Foster created his own company – Foster and Partners.

The firm’s breakthrough was The Willis Building in Ipswich, designed with open-plan office floors, roof gardens, a 25m pool and gymnasium – a true revelation for its time (1974). Through his work, Foster managed to transpose in architecture, the effect of globalization upon the major cities of the world.

During his four decade career, he obtained more than 190 awards and citations and won 50 national and international contests. In the latest years of his activity, a major part of his work is based on environmentally responsible technologies that help lower the buildings’ carbon footprint. Norman’s work cannot be defined otherw than exceptional and truly remarkable.

His structures are setting new standards for the interaction between building, the environment and people. There are dozens of grand works signed by Norman, including the following: the Millennium Bridge in London, 30 St Mary Axe or the Gherkin in London, Hearst Tower in New York City, Wembley Stadium in London and Torre Caja in Madrid.


His works

30 St Mary Axe – The Gherkin


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Hearst Tower


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Torre Caja


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11. Zaha Hadid (b. 31 October 1950)

11.Zaha Hadid

Her portrait

Zaha Hadid was born in Iraq and was the first woman to win a Pritzker Architecture Prize (often called the Nobel Prize in architecture). She completed her studies in London, where she started working at the architecture company of her former teachers. In 1980, she opened her own practice in London – Zaha Hadid Architects.

Although she is a winner of numerous international contests, she had the misfortune of never seeing many of her projects built. Forbes ranked Hadid the 69th most powerful women in the world in 2008, while New Statesman ranked her the 42nd most influential figure on the planet in 2010.

Her work is generally daring, unconventional and artistic and her structures are often characterized by a Deconstruvist approach. MAXXI – the National Museum of the 21st Century Arts is considered to be her finest work, but the subsequent structures are also highly acclaimed: the Bridge Pavilion in Zaragoza, Bergisel Ski Jump in Innsbruck, Phaeno Science Center and the Opera House in Guangzhou.


Her works



Bridge Pavilion

11.Bridge Pavilion

Phaeno Science Center

11.Phaeno Science Center

12. Rem Koolhaas (b. 17 November 1944)

12.Rem Koolhaas

His portrait

Koolhaas is probably the most influential architect and urban planner Netherlands ever had. He first studied scriptwriting in Amsterdam and only came to write two movies: a horror and a soft-porn. Next, he studied architecture in London and at the Cornell University. In 1975 he founded The Office for Metropolitan Architecture in Rotterdam and his first major project was the Netherlands Dance Theatre in The Hague, in 1987.

He became famous before completing his first building, due to its special talent in writing. Koolhaas’s first book was Delirious New York, written while he was traveling in the United States. He got eventually acclaimed for its practical abilities as well. Specialists say that his work is a perfect bond between the Modern and the Deconstructivist styles, but there are some that consider that his structures are rather part of the Humanist style.

The most populous buildings designed by Koolhaas are: the Central Library in Seattle, Casa da Mùsica in Porto, Museum of Art at the Seoul National University and China Central Television Headquarters in Beijing.


His work

China Central Television Headquarters


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Seattle Central Library

12.Seattle Central Library

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Casa da Mùsica

12.Casa da Mùsica

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  • Derek said:

    Mimar Sinan? I mean, if the criterion is “changing the world!”

  • Kathleen said:

    No Frank Lloyd Wright?!
    Are you KIDDING ME?!

  • A Innes said:

    Um, where the hell is Frank Lloyd Wright? It’s almost rude.

  • Archtor said:

    Forgot Palladio.

  • Q Magoo said:

    What about FL Wright? Moshe Safdie? Daniel Libeskind?

  • Nick S said:

    Great list – big fan of Gehry and Calatrava – although I’m quite bemused why Frank Lloyd Wright is not on it.

    Philip Johnson or Mies van der Rohe too!

  • Vil said:

    Great list, “Le Grand Louvre” by Pei is the best!

  • Gerard Iribe said:

    Lloyd Wright was probably omitted, because it cannot always be about him. Let other folks bask in the light for a bit.

  • Ben said:

    Was wondering why FLW was not on the list, but i figured, he is very well known and its over done having him on all lists of this nature. Give some others a chance to shine.

  • archimags said:

    Seriously!! Frank lloyd wright, Mies Van der Rohe, I M Pei, Renzo Piano, Philip Johnson?!!

    This is not about giving others a chance to shine.. It’s about listing greatest architects of all time.. and FLW MUST be on it..

  • archimags said:

    I M Pei is on the list.. so my mistake there.. :-)

  • Sophie said:

    I don’t think it’s always about Frank Lloyd Wright and I should because I live in his neighborhood

  • julio amezcua said:

    REM? GEHRY? ZAHA? CALATRAVA (JAJAJA) who did that list….

  • hamza said:

    why an architect gets this much importance. the design is his/hers but the possibility of making the structure stand and bringing it to realiy is all civil engineering!!

  • Fabiola Correa said:

    This list was made by a young student ,,,,, for sure!!!!

  • Rich said:

    Architects don’t change the world. They do influence the quality of life of people who experience their buildings and they might influence other architects, but they are simply responding to the culture and technology of their time.

  • ahmed said:

    where is the master? you know who! FLW

  • John said:

    Louis i. Kahn?!

    The twelve listed are amazing though.

  • Kiv said:

    seriously no frank lloyd wright or mies?!! that is not right.

  • mike said:

    Yea I agree with everyone who’s saying where’s Frank Lloyd Wright?!

  • Ro said:

    Where’s F.L.W., Louis Khan, Barragan, Philip Jhonson, Richard Meier, Renzo Piano, Peter Zumthor…and the list goes on and on…

  • cass said:

    walter gropius? ando?

  • Juan said:


    FRANK GHERY didn’t change the world he and Norma Foster are Commercial Architects! LUIS BARRAGAN, FLW, MIES VAN DER ROHE & PHILIP JOHNSON changed the world not those other men!

  • Angela said:

    Daniel Burnham? Chicago, the White City, the World’s Fair! He should definitely be on this list.

  • JAMES said:


  • Sincock said:

    Give it a rest, FLW was a great architect but this isn’t a list of the greatest but those that the writer believes caused change; the title isn’t even architects that caused the most change.

    BTW, the photo of the Capitol Theatre in Melbourne is from it’s most unflattering angle; it’s a lovely building better viewed from the front or inside the theatre itself.

  • Hedieh said:

    WOW !!!!
    Where is the master ??? Where is Frank Loyd Wright ???

  • Hedieh said:

    Norman Foster and Zaha Hadid at 10th and 11th place ????
    I can’t believe this … !!!! Seriously?

  • Grillton said:

    Are you kidding me?!?

    There were really NO Danish architects mentioned in this article?!?

    C’mon…the freaking Sydney Opera House, among MANY other achievements of the Danes!!!

  • Frank said:

    Frank Lloyd Wright is missing. THIS LIST IS INVALID.

  • Luther Blissett said:

    Mention Hadid and Calatrava and, on the other hand, forget to mention Louis Kahn is a crime! not just a matter of taste

  • Jose Alberto said:

    Where is Mies Van der Rohe?!?

  • Daniel castillo said:

    mmm … I would like to see Luis Barragan. But hey …!

  • Jess Whittle said:

    Hold on Gehry (with his wavy buildings) gets the nod ahead of Frank Lloyd Wright and all his genius feats of architecture. Errr I think not!

  • TaposhMallick said:

    Yes,… Many more great architects are missing, I read one statement that why only architect, why not civil engineers , it’s only bcos … Architect goes on dreaming and does not sleep at all till he/ she is finished with all odds of design… Civil engineers only use mathematical calculation and design theories as they are laid in books and manuals…that is where the difference lies… In architecture 2+2 is not always 4… I hope people will agree…

  • Glen Etzkorn said:

    What no mention of Bruce Goff?

  • Kara said:

    They did not mention Hassan Fathy, the egyptian architect! he had completely changed the ideas of profession, not only the world… look for this man, you should know about his works.

  • Bob said:

    For those of you looking for Frank Lloyd Wright, he was an apprentice of #3 Louis Sullivan for 6 years. I believe most of Wrights work was residential. Prairie style in the beginning and during the depression designed low cost homes with lots of glass, no attics and slabs. A plumbers nightmare!

  • Orakzai said:

    owh! thanks a lot for the information, i like you sharing… but as others said, i guess you wrote your favorites here because you missed few more great architects, i was waiting to see
    1 – frank lloyd wright
    2 – louis kahn
    3- fazlur rahman khan

  • Archi joel said:

    Frank Lloyd Wright was a man who change the world of architecture where is he?

  • Markle Sparkle said:

    I have learned just as much from researching the names ommitted from the list as I have learned from the names included.

  • Heather said:

    not mentioning Louis Kahn made this list incomplete,if you want to make a list of greatest architects that changed the world.

  • muhammad b nasir said:

    You did not mention the greatest architect of all time. Marcus Vitruvius Pollio. Remember?

  • Real World Architect said:

    FLW did not change the world. He may have influenced American architecture. This list got me thinking though. My own list would be something like…

    Christopher Wren
    Peter Cook

    I know, It’s 13. I cheated.

  • Tressica Chambers said:

    Okay people I have seen that some of you are hating on Frank Lloyd Wright, there’s no reason and actually he did make an impact on the world. He was a great architect.

  • bruis said:

    Frank Gehry is easily the best architect in the world in my opinion!

  • Arch. Paolo-Pablo said:

    I think it has to be top 20! too many great architects are not in the list! FLW, Richard Neutra, Daniel Burnham, Libskind, Eames, Renzo Piano, Richard Meier and the others!

  • Dinesh said:

    Architects can change the world !!?!??! They just design buildings. They can’t change the world.

  • Tom Bora said:

    they changed the world cos the world is covered in buildings! The house you live in is an architecture design so you better appreciate.

  • Jintu Montego said:

    Although Frank Lloyd Wright was and still is considered by many as the greatest American architect who ever lived he never finished his degree in architecture.

    He took the course at the University of Wisconsin but left after 2 semesters.

  • kadiri said:

    The list of greatest architect is endless bcos of the propecity at which they want to leave a mark in their city. I am sure if such list is be consider as fair, these architects must be included: Walter gropius,LFW, Remzo piano, Rohe van

  • Piero19 said:

    Furthermore, Where is Herzog and Demeuron? They are also great architects. They are involved on great projects right now. Look at Beijing Stadium and Vitrahaus.

  • Arun Kumar J said:

    A lot of these designs are just fancy…the world needs “Eco Friendly” buildings. Creativity will inspire for sure but only eco friendly/sustainable designs will ensure safety.

    Also where are our INDIAN architects???

  • devanshi said:

    i really like this..one day i’ll be there in this list…

  • C Hiller said:

    Yes,… Many more great architects are missing, I read one statement that why only architect, why not civil engineers , it’s only bcos … Architect goes on dreaming and does not sleep at all till he/ she is finished with all odds of design… Civil engineers only use mathematical calculation and design theories as they are laid in books and manuals…that is where the difference lies… In architecture 2+2 is not always 4… I hope people will agree… ( can civil engineer do all the concept? do they have the principle in composition in design? can they do the visions what architects do? don’t think so..)

  • JamesAB said:

    Who wrote this list – Rem, Corb and Zaha should be at the top if its 20 century. Why is Mies not there or …….. so many others before Foster. This must have been written by someone educated in the 60′s – 70′s. If the list is greatest ever then most of these would not feature. This is just annoying.

  • JamesAB said:

    Real World Architect – you have got some right but you must be having a laugh including Cook and Rogers. The list would be far less controversial if it was top 100 but Pete and Dud will still not feature.

  • Matt said:

    No Ove Arup?

  • Bruno Bravo said:

    Missing… Hassan Fathi, Louis Kahn, F.L.Wright, Barragán, Geoffrey Bawa, Álvaro Siza, Mies van der Rohe to name a few!

    but includes Calatrava, Zaha Hadid, Norman Foster, Koolhaas, Ming Pei???
    bad, capitalist architecture
    they changed the world, but for the worst

  • Prasant said:

    Biased and unfair list. Where’s the great Frank Lloyd Wright? Mies Van der Rohe?

  • Ronan Bolaños said:

    why is Walter Burley Griffin in this list? did you see his second building? Omissions are huge in this list, nobody mentions Zumthor…there are so many better architects than many listed here

  • John said:

    Where’s Frank Lloyd Wright that’s really messed up he’s “The Greatest American Architect”.

  • Graham Carter said:

    I was really enjoying this until I realised you missed Frank Lloyd Wright, which really devalues the whole thing. Given that the point is to create a list of architects who changed the world, surely those who turned themselves into household names automatically qualify.

    Changing the world’s attitude towards architects is even more of an accomplishment than changing attitudes towards architecture.

  • Ignacio De Lorenzo said:

    Please tell me you choose Calatrava over Wright by mistake, didn’t you?

  • Michael said:

    where’s frank lloyd wright?

  • Vanessa said:

    Great thread…

    Good list but not all encompassing at all. I agree with others above who stated that architects do not “change the world”, but rather design as a response to thier time, technology, culture, which are all very subjective.

    However, if one is realy attempting to make a list of game changers, its a little presumptuous to only include architects in the last century! What about Vitruvius, Brunelleschi, Palladio, Miletus & Tralles, Imhotep, you get the point.

    With that said, where are: Ando, Gropius, Van der Rohe, Toyo Ito, Rietveld, Creig Dykers with Snohetta, and so on?

  • Koen said:

    And not to forget Phidias, Ictinus and Callicrates, the architects of the Parthenon in Athens, the most influential buidling in Western history.

  • Ash said:

    hey guys where is Tom Wright??

  • Migue said:

    Missing Luis Barragan !?!

  • rondav said:

    so, where’s… daniel libeskind?

    this is preposterous!

  • Leslie said:

    wicked! this is so cool and inspiring. one day i’ll be on this list.

  • Enrico Cherubini said:

    I think Brunelleschi should be in, best Architect ever_

  • Eric said:

    Le Corbusier needs to be higher. Missing Neutra, Walter Gropius, Louis Kahn and obviously FLW. IM Pei is good, but not deserving. Frank Gehry is overrated. Zaha Hadid, although a very talented and great architect, felt like a tack on to make the list comprehensive and more inclusive and thus doesn’t represent the best architectural work of all time.

  • moniruzzaman mondal said:

    no Kahn? Luis I Kahn …

  • Barry Hart said:

    What about the likes of Peter Webb, Edwin Lutyns not forgetting Robert Adams and of course as the rest of you have said Palladio, Frank Lloyd Wright.

  • Graham said:

    What a silly list. Architects only change the world of architecture. Great architecture is a luxury – the ‘world’ doesn’t necessarily need it. Now, great design, that is another thing. The world needs that in abundance, and that is the work of more than architecture.

  • Mike Sharp said:

    Brunelleschi changed the world. Frank Lloyd Wright changed America.
    CFA Voysey changed me.
    great topic.

  • Mikie said:

    To the genius singing the praises of “civil” engineers: civil engineers have ZERO to do with building design. Structural engineers are the ones whose expertise informs the architect concerning what revisions need (or don’t need) to be made in order to make the dream, as shown in the plans, a physical reality.

    Civil engineers design roads and highways, as well as site layouts.

  • Marc said:

    Where is Frank Lloyd Wright’s name??? How and why did he not make the cut!!!

  • William said:

    The name of the Architect is totally irrelevant. Then what of Vitruvius, the great Italian Architects, Russian Architects and the Western European Socialism style of Architecture. i.e. Terrace housing that greatly changed the middle classes. This truly enhanced our ability to change the world.

    The only Civil engineer to have any foresight was Brunel. Good design and the correct environment nurture society. The top 10 places to live emphasize this. I did certainly miss Scandinavian design.

    Where would you rather live in Bath or a Gehry building? Bath wins ever time.

  • turkish_architect said:

    have you ever heard about Mimar Sinan??

  • astrid said:

    The omission of Frank Lloyd Wright, yet you include his student, is unforgivable.

  • Arq.IsaBarbosa said:

    really? I can’t believe that Mies is not in that list when is one of the most important architects of the modern time. What about SOM and the skyscrapers history? or FLW? and where is Palladio? or Brunelleschi? or Walter Gropius? Tadao Ando?

    It is hard to pick 12 but I think you pick the wrong ones in some cases… for example ZAHA AND REM!

    Do your homework

  • Jan Elliott said:

    What about Brunelleschi he had to be one of the greatest they still can’t figure out he properly built the Duomo…..

  • christine sal said:

    this collection is inspiring for young architects, but without frank lloyd wright this list let’s itself down…badly!

  • Jonathan Ellis-Miller said:

    Look you can’t not have Mies Van Rohe, Louis Kahn, James Stirling, Richard Rogers, Renzo Piano not on that list. History will not treat Hadid, Gehry etc well.

  • Giovanna Grassi said:

    Unforgivable to forgot Frank Lloyd Wright, with his organic style, his books including “The Living City” and the fact that he changed the “American Architecture”.

  • Gerald Curtis said:

    No Frank lloyd Wright? That has to be a joke. someone please tell me it is the first of April.

  • Seighart Wilson said:

    Architects create and visualize some great designs, but you should also consider the people make it happen … the Civil Engineers and other Engineer Majors!

  • Dotunn said:

    For the tiny minority of commenters that think that F.L Wright shouldn’t be on this list, i would believe they havnt read the caption of this discussion, (architects that changed the world).

    To say an architect that fathered Organic architecture doesnt prove the part, doesnt make the list, is nothin short of RUDE..

  • Dotunn said:

    @Jintu Montego Did Bill Gates finish his degree? but i guess he has made an impact and indeed change the world…my friend (and i believe fellow prestigious Architect F.L Wright did too)….the degree is a means to an end…….the end which F.L Wright achieved

  • Al said:

    Seriously, If you do not have Mies, FL Wright and beloved Louis Kahn, you are missing on a lot….I can definitely do without I M PEI and as for Rem, Mies, Wright and Louis Kahn should be on the list and supersede him. As for Griffin, first time I heard his name so I can not comment yet…

    I am very glad Venturi, Graves and Johnson did not make the list. Also feel Gehry originally Frank Owen Goldberg (he changed his name) is way way overrated. He is not the best architect of our age and Johnson was wrong when he stated that he is the best architect of our times (he did so and cried after the opening of Bilbao).

    On the other hand, glad Calatrava and Aalto made it….but still puzzled over Mies and Kahn….James Stirling is not included for reasons I am not sure about.

  • Al (Architect) said:

    Also, I have to admit the list should be celebrating The Renaissance with Brunelleschi and modern times should be celebrated with Buck Fuller…

    “not knowing what happened before you were born is forever to be a child” and therefore, this list was composed by an infant….

  • Kiethz Pgr said:

    Nobody can change the world! Neither Architects or Engineers can do it. The only changes are the creation of human being which evolves on different aspects as long as our planet is continuously orbiting the universe.

  • Richard Keighley said:

    Great list and I would struggle to argue as to why I wouldn’t have any of them in my top 12.

    Others who I would seriously consider;

    Charles and Ray Eames
    Carlos Scarpa
    Richard Neutra
    Richard Rogers
    Pierre Koenig
    Arne Jacobsen
    Eliel and Eero Saarinen (Snr & Jnr).
    Walter Gropius

    How about a top 10 Famous Architects whose work you would happily see vanish without a trace?

    1. Will Allsop…..2…..?

  • Arc. Abdu majeed said:

    Are you kiddin me… ?
    Where is …: James Borgadus, Henry Labroste… to name but just a few!

  • Kiethz Pgr said:

    Corroborating the vital subject i firmly believe that FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT shall be considered as one the Architects have changed the world, this is based on his works in the field of designing structures for human habitation.

    And certainly because it has a direct link of the nature that gives more an aesthetic aspect to human body and spirit & of the nature itself.

  • Iain Meek DipArch RIBA FBIS said:

    All architects change the world. That is our job- one building at a time until the entire world is rebuilt.

  • MM88 said:

    :::::::MY TOP 12:::::::
    Louis i Kahn
    Le Corbu
    Frank Lloyd Wright
    Rem Koolhaas
    Walter Gropuis
    Alvar Aalto
    Jean Prouvé


  • Jun Huang said:

    Don’t try to think any individual could ever change the world. it’s always the PEOPLE!

  • Paddy said:

    You missed some of the pioneers like Wright and Mies Van der Rohe.
    By the way, who owns the falling water house anyway?

  • Mike Conner said:

    Personally I’m a big fan of Rogers – Lloyds of London is the only 20C build to be Grade I listed – interior or exterior cannot be changed by law. But omitting FLW and Mies is inexcusable, as is calling Frank a house builder.

    Anyway, for the definitive answer we must go to LEGO architecture!!
    There are only 7;

    Jorn Utzon – Sydney Opera House
    Corbusier – Villa Savoye
    Mies – Farnsworth House
    FLW – Fallingwater
    FLW – Robie House
    FLW – Guggenheim
    FLW – Imperial Hotel

    Yep that’s 4 by Frank

  • Donald van dansik said:

    May I suggest you please focus on game changing buildings (Pantheon, Delphi, Seagram building, Casa Da Musica, Sydney opera, Niteroi, Torre velasca.)
    Rather than stargazing at the makers.

    Otherwise you then overlook the importance of engineering & new materials, and the context, the city (Ur), the landscape (Veaux le Vicomte) etc…

    Thanks anyway for this inspired list, Cheers!

  • magui said:

    frank lloyd wright? Mies? Where are they? OMG!

  • sekou said:

    Seriously where is FLW. Come on I totally disagree with most of the people on this list. The master is FLW. Seriously.

  • Ian Banks said:

    There are one or two debatable old names in there that are imposters, and some other newer ones that quite probably still need a few years yet to acquire true greatness of being classed as ‘changing the world’.

    Bit like the comments above, where on earth is Frank Lloyd Wright in all this? – as well as (I would add) Mies van der Rohe, Louis Kahn, Eliel Saarinen, Aldo van Eyke, James Stirling and Archigram?

    The list of RIBA Gold Medal winners holds the key: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Royal_Gold_Medal

  • Liz Walder said:

    Interesting that there are hardly any major 19th century architects on the list – where are the Smirke brothers, Robert and Sydney? Where is Sir Charles Barry and Sir George Gilbert Scott? How about Leo von Klenze, Charles Garnier or Joseph Louis Duc?

    In the 20th century, apart from FLW and Mies who are already mentioned, how about including Giles Gilbert Scott, Frank Darling, William Marinus Dudok, Edwin Lutyens, Jørn Utzon

    Perhaps there should be a list of 12 living architects, and a second list of 12 deceased architects?

  • ConcernedTexan said:

    Omitting WRIGHT was WRONG! It’s so obvious a slight that there is no doubt it was intentional. NO ONE with any true knowledge of architecture would leave Wright off a list of 12. Fallingwater, Johnson Wax Building, some of the greatest spaces ever created in the world! The ranch style house, inhabited by most of rural America, owes it’s existence to Wright.

    Each day I marvel at Prairie style, Arts and Craft style and ranch style homes in small town USA…but I am still looking for the houses inspired by the art of Gaudi, IM Pei or Le Corbusier!

    There’s only one Master, the rest were students.

  • Sama said:

    Louis I Kahn
    Frank Lloyed wright
    You have missed three masters . Architecture has a big hole without them !!

  • gabrielk said:

    Where is Sir Richard Rogers Sir James Stirling Alison and Peter Smithson
    Robert Venturi Michael Graves Mario Botta etc etc so many missing ie a top 10 or 12 is pointless -How about a top 100 .

  • Sue pellegrino said:

    Difficult in 12, but Frank Lloyd Wright should be up there with the wonderful Sinan.

  • Geoffrey said:

    How can one limit the number to just 12? I would concur with the previous listed comments.

    The list should be expanded and not be just one persons choice!!

  • James said:

    The reason that Frank Lloyd Wright is not on here is most likely because he is overrated. You seem to think that because people have told you he is an amazing architect that he is.

    Can i ask if the majority of you have even looked at any of his work other than the Guggenheim or Falling water? The majority of his work mimics suburban homes that had been built for many years prior to him coming onto the scene.

  • Maryam said:

    “CHANGING THE WORLD IN TERMS OF ARCHITECTURE”, I think we are forgeting some important names like Eero Sarinen and the group Skidmore, Owings and Merrill. These names should be more deserving than some of the pple who made the list, in terms of CHANGE.

  • Maryam said:

    These people made some innovations in terms of use of materials to make changes from the norm in architecture.

  • Tigran said:

    Frank Lloyd Wright was a student of Louis Sullivan No 3 so thats why he is absent!

  • amanda said:

    isn’t it high time someone added sustainability as a criteria to decide on architectural competitiveness?

  • hakan said:

    Mimar Sinan and FLW must be here!

  • paul said:

    Mies should have been there, and Rogers – you can’t ignore Beaubourg.
    Completely disagree with the importance of Walter Burley Griffin, and also with all the shouting (above) about FLW – he is only important in the States as a contributor to their modern vernacular; his influence on the world of Architecture is negligible (except that he did great drawings).

    Not so sure about Zaha either. Interesting work, but world changing..?

  • Bradley Pallister said:

    Hadid and Foster, yes, definitely. How’s about David Chipperfield?

  • Bob said:

    Somewhat amusing list. No Wright, no Kahn, no Mies and that just omissions from my life time.

  • Tressen said:

    Guys that list is such a joke… how can we include Zaha Hadid and not Louis Khan,charles Corea ,Frank Lioyd Wright..etc… That so Rude!!!

  • Christina said:

    I believe that some of the most important architects are not in the list such as Mies Van Der Rohe who created an influential twentieth-century architectural style, stated with extreme clarity and simplicity.

    And also don’t forget Peter Eisenman who his writings have pursued topics including comparative formal analyses; the emancipation and autonomization of the disciplines.

    Also don’t exclude Frank Lloyd Wright, which his projects introduced the organic architecture.

    Where is Walter Gropius,Enric Miralles, Alvar Aalto, Jean Nouvel, Peter Zumthor, Kazuyo Sejima, César Pelli, Sou Fujimoto…?

    I am afraid that there are more than 12 architects that influenced and changed the world. In every culture there are different architect that brought innovation and this will continue throughout the years.

  • Kazentet said:

    FLR, Mies Van Der Rohe, and Walter Gropius should be on the list

  • Wolfgang Gesselmann said:

    Missing a lot of architects, but first of all

    - Mies van der Rohe, Founder Bauhaus Weimar

    - Walter Gropius, Founder Bauhaus Weimar

    - Guenter Behnisch, Olympic park Munich 1972

    - Frei Otto, Olympic park Munich 1972 fouder of

    - Renzo Piano, centre Pompidou Paris

    - Hans Scharun, Hugo Haering etc. which influences the Architecture of ie Frank Gehry

  • Edyta said:

    I thing same as many above, where are:
    Frank Lloyd Wright, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Walter Groupius?

  • alex hobbs said:


    Frank Lloyd Wright
    Buckminster Fuller
    Aldo Van Eyck
    Richard Rogers

  • Falk said:

    This list must automatically lack a few people or can only be a reflection of a personal idea.

    What the list does is it neglects the influence that the Bauhaus had on everything related to building.

    No mentioning of Walter Gropius, Mies van der Rohe and the like.
    For North America Frank L. Wright MUST be on any list in this direction.

    Others don’t need to be there for certain. Rogers? Certainly has his qualities. But put him into a list that forgets the aforementioned???
    Zaha Hadid… Is that for the alibi woman in the list. She IS great in what she does, but better or more influential than Mies??? C’mon…

    What about some of the post modernists? Eisenmann… Meier… and so on…

    Too many have been forgotten in my opinion and a handful of more important people have been left out…

  • Raj said:

    Good list but there are some notable names missing like Frank Lloyd wright, Charles Correa, Renzo Piano and many more from all over the world transforming lives with their sustainable architecture which gives much to their communities.

    Changing the world is not just about iconic buildings with latest technology or materials. It is also how all these are woven in to the environment with least impact gracing the community in which they are built. Frank Lloyd wright would fit in to this somewhere.

  • Charles said:

    This list is about who was fashionable at the start of the 20th century, the middle, and at the end.

    Dismissing the rest of history as a consequence shows how shallow and meaningless it is, though you won’t have any argument from me when it comes to the inclusion of Corbusier, he really did make a serious mark with his architecture and influenced many, as did Aalto.

    Hadid by comparison is a joke, soon enough to be forgotten along with other flash in the pan architects.

  • Robert Jubb said:

    Dont forget Joseph Paxton (crystal Palace) 1848 and John Claudius Loudon (Bicton Palm house 1818)….(Do take a look) Neither of them trained as architects or Engineers they were great horticulturalists of their time but they designed the most inspiring buildings in iron and glass that would influence generations of architects in the future.

    Dont forget Palladio his influence spread across the world.

  • Sam said:

    Antoni Gaudi is simply the best!! The originality, beauty and functionality of his buildings are beyond any other work done after him.

  • saleem khan said:

    there are many great and famous architects, who are not in this list!!

  • michel said:

    where is Lloyd and Sinan?

  • Peter said:

    F. L. Wright, P. Johnson, L. Kahn, R. Piano?

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