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15 Architects who changed our perspective of the world

20 June 2011 27 Comments

Within this collection, you are going to make acquaintance with 15 outstanding architects of our World who have left their incontestable heritages on all the continents. It is a blend of architects both from the old era and of the new, and the order is random, since this is not intended to be a top list.

Each of the architects presented here believe or believed in something different, and their creational styles are unique. Many of them have been the fathers of modernism, and their style is being carried on and stands as an inspiration for today’s architects. Enjoy the wonderful edifices!

Frank Lloyd Wright


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Frank Lloyd Wright was one of the most prominent architects of the 20th century with his portfolio of creations exceeding well over 1,000 projects, half of which resulted in completed works.

He was a believer and promoter of organic style of architecture and developed the concept of Usonian house (an architectural style free of conventional details, focused on landscaping as the main part of the project).

The AIA distinguished him with the title of “the greatest American architect of all times”. His palette of creations evoked an immense diversity of buildings, such as schools, churches, skyscrapers or offices.

Guggenheim Museum NYC


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Fallingwater House


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Philip Johnson


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He was an influential American architect, living between 1906 and 2005. In the first part of his career he, as well as many other architects, was focused on building the typical glass and steel towers. However, later he brought his trademark to the scene by designing wonderful crystal structured buildings, which look as if they are covered in glass on all sides.

His works could be characterized as a mixture of Minimalism as Pop Art, and they have been always seen either as a provocation or accepted quickly. He also collaborated with fellow architect Louis Mies van der Rohe on the Seagram Building project.

Crystal Cathedral (California)


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Seagram Building


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Renzo Piano


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Renzo Piano is an Italian architect with his name resonating all throughout the world of architecture. He has been distinguished with the renowned Pritzker Prize for Architecture for redefining modern and postmodern architectural styles, the American Institute for Architects Gold Medal and the Sonning Prize in Denmark.

He is often times referred to as a high-tech architect, and the majority of his designs focus on comfort for those inhabiting the building, and an overall “serene” outlook of his structures.

Marie Tjibaou Cultural Center, New Caledonia


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Pompidou Center Paris


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Louis Kahn


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Louis Kahn was a distinguished American architect who lived in Philadelphia Pennsylvania. Among others, throughout his career he has been working as a professor of architecture and a design critic at the Yale School of Architecture.

He has always been fascinated by history and the ancient ruins of our World, and this reflects very well throughout his architectural style. Monumental and massive are perhaps the best words to describe the style and overall outlook of his buildings, and he never spared materials when creating his projects.

Some of his best works include the Yale University Art Gallery in New Haven CT, Jatiyo Sangshad Bhaban (a huge legislative complex, one of the largest in the world) in Dhaka, Bangladesh or the Kimbell Art Museum in Texas.

Jatiyo Sangshad Bhaban


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Yale University Art Gallery


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Jean Nouvel


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Jean Nouvel is a French architect with an impressive career over the span of several decades. He has also won several prestigious awards, such as the Aga Khan Award for Architecture or the Pritzker Prize in 2008. The Arab World Institute in Paris and the Torre Agbar in Barcelona are two of his most talked about works in the field of architecture when it comes to mentioning his name.

Other extremely notable works include the Dentsu Building in Tokyo which is an example of sustainable architecture, and the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis.

The Arab World Institute


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Torre Agbar Barcelona

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Tom Wright

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He is a British architect born in 1957, and he has a well deserved place on this list of some of the world’s most renowned architects. Wright is worldwide known for designing the wonderful Burj Al Arab in Dubai, UAE.

He has been assigned to create a symbol for Dubai, just in the same way the Eiffel Tower is a symbol for France, or the way the Sydney Opera is world renowned landmark for Australia.

The Tower of the Arabs is basically a symbol for moving forward into the future, and this is symbolized with the help of the shape of the tower itself, which is a yacht sail with an extremely stylish and modern outlook.

Tom Wright shares with the readers of his website the following wonderful and inspiring quote, which is his own:

“If you can draw a building with a few sweeps of the pen and everyone recognizes not only the structure but also associates it with a place on earth, you have gone a long way towards creating something iconic” (Tom Wright, 2000).….and he is so right.

Burj Al Arab


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Al Rajhi Tower (approved)


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Mimar Sinan


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Mimar Sinan is the most resonant name in Ottoman Turkish architecture, and he lived between 1490 and 1588. He constructed more than 250 breathtaking structures.

He designed mainly mosques and schools of theology, but among his projects there are also several hospitals, primary schools, aqueducts and arches. Two of his most famous pieces of work include the Selimiye Mosque (Edirne) and the Suleiman Mosque from Istanbul, Turkey.

Selimiye Mosque


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Suleiman Mosque


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Andrea Palladio andrea_palladio

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He was an Italian architect belonging to the Renaissance period, in the 16th century. His main works can be seen in the beautiful city of Venice, Italy. He is considered by many critics and arts people in the field as one of the most influential architects of Western style architecture.

The majority of his projects did not require very expensive materials, which has made him a favoured architect even among those who did not have huge financial possibilities. Brick and stucco were two materials favoured by him, and these were mainly used for the creation of the wonderful villas in Northern Italy.

Basilica Palladiana


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Palazzo Chiericati


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Daniel Libeskind

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Daniel Libeskind was born in 1946, and is a prominent American architect of Jewish-Polish descent. The architect actually started his real career quite late, with his first building being completed after the age of 50.

He is also famous for having been selected for the team of architects that would design and re-build the World Trade Center. Some of his most notable works include the Jewish Museum of Berlin, The Ascent at Roebling’s Bridge, the Imperial War Museum North (England), and the London Metropolitan University.

The Ascent at Roebling’s Bridge


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London Metropolitan University


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Moshe Safdie


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Moshe Safdie is a Haifa born architect, who currently lives in Canada. He has been an outstanding student, and he actually was the apprentice of Louis Kahn.

His works bear an unmistakable trademark of using curvaceous lines, open spaces and simple geometric forms for his projects.

Some notable projects include the National Gallery of Canada (Ottawa, Ontario), Habitat 67 in Montreal Quebec, and currently under construction the United States Institute of Peace in Washington DC.

Habitat ’67 Complex of Apartments


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National Gallery of Canada


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Ludwig Mies van der Rohe


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He was an excellent architect with German descent, and he lived between 1886 and 1969. He is a key figure in the development of Modern architecture alongside names like Le Corbusier and Walter Gropius.

Clarity and extreme simplicity are the characteristics of his works, and all throughout his career Mies made an ambition out of creating a representative architectural style for the 20th century, just as the Gothic style is representative for its era.

He made lavishly use of steel and glass structures to define his buildings, but also strived to use as little framework as possible, to keep the “open space”. Mies characterized his own style as one of “skin and bones” architecture.

Barcelona Pavilion


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Martin Luther King Memorial Library


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James Stirling james_stirling

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Sir James Frazer Stirling was a prolific British Architect, who has been believed to be one the most influential architects of the late 20th century.

His sources of inspiration laid deep into history, because he loved to borrow and blend into his works several architectural styles, such as the early Baroque, the Roman style, and incorporating the most modern trends as well.

History Faculty Library in Cambridge

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Neue Staatsgalerie Stuttgart


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Kevin Roche Portrait photograph of architect Kevin Roche, an Irish-American architect with the firm Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo and Associates

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Kevin Roche is extremely well known and loved architect, especially for his creativeness to blend glass structures into his works. He has been studying under another world famous architect, Louis Mies van der Rohe during the 1950s.

Roche has been awarded the Pritzker Prize for architecture in 1982, and several other high distinctions for his achievements in the field of architecture. Among his notable works: the Ford Foundation Building, the Knights of Columbus Building (New Haven, CT), UN Headquarters, and the Convention Center Dublin in 2010.

Knights of Columbus


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Convention Centre Dublin

The new Dublin Convention Centre

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Louis Henry Sullivan louis-henry-sullivan

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He was an extremely renowned American architect who lived between 1856 and 1924, and he has been nicknamed the father of the skyscrapers. A very important proponent of modernism, he has created several modern skyscraper buildings using tons of steel and glass against Chicago’s skyline.

Among his most notable works one can mention the Guaranty Building in Buffalo NY, built as early as 1894 (also known as Prudential Building), Auditorium Building in Chicago (1889), or the Union Trust Building.

Old Chicago Stock Exchange Building


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Auditorium Building Chicago


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Kenzo Tange


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Kenzo Tange was an architect from Japan, who has won several prestigious awards during the lifespan of his career, among which the Pritzker Prize for Architecture in 1987. He was renowned for blending Japanese traditionalism and world modernism in his works.

He was also a proponent of structuralism, which was a movement that basically did not focus on the “human inhabitant” of the structure, and focused more on urban planning with a sort of a “lifeless” outlook and structure.

Yoyogi National Gymnasium


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Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum


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It would be quite difficult to make a top list of architects, since each of them are proponents of something else, and they each have unique working styles. There are also some obvious architects who are not on this list but can be found here: http://www.colorcoat-online.com/blog/index.php/2011/01/12-architects-that-changed-the-world/

There are simply no terms of comparison existent between a 16th century Mosque and the ultra modern Burj Al Arab in Dubai…

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  • el said:

    this list is not complete if le corbusier is not included…

  • Alex G said:

    Nice work; I like the compendium. However, where is Le Corbusier? Are you really saying Roche has had more impact than Le Corbusier? Why not Imhotep over Stirling?

    A nice overview, and good on you for defying expectations, but Corbu…

  • Tom said:

    How can you not include le corbusiser and Walter gropius?

  • Paul Beale said:

    No Oscar Neimeyer?

  • Jorge Porras said:

    What about Walter Gropius, Tadao Ando, Richard Meier, Norman Foster, Zaha Hadid, David Chiperfield, Richard Neutra, Santiago Calatrava, Luis Barragan….. and please can anybody tell me where is Charles Édouard Jeanneret-Gris AKA Le Corbusier and Rem Koolhaas in this list?

  • ED said:

    Zaha Hadid, Please…..she is not an architect she is an artist. Her grandiose work is only for her ego.

  • ASDF said:

    Where are the portuguese architects? Where is tadao ando?

    This list is broken

  • tobi said:

    Corbu is not really necessary unless you’re doing a 50 architects list. He’s someone people who think they know architecture find influential.

    But Tadao Ando? Yes, either him or Glenn Murcutt but I think FLW is a touch on that so I agree with most of these architects but 15 is a really restricting number.

  • Renata Rubim said:

    The person who dis this list never learned about Oscar Niemeyer? What a shame!

  • Carolina said:

    i dont agree with toby, he is influential if not for his own work because of the interest he has arousen in people not related with architecture. the very fact that you consider him someone consdered influential for those who “think they know architecture” is one of the reasons he is so influential.

    Regarding the list, such a short one i think relies more on personal taste, but i believe Rem Koolhas should be there before Piano for expl.

  • Arch. Paolo-Pablo said:

    Okay, after seeing the top 12. i saw this, now i get it, you categorized the architects. FLW is here because he definitely changed my perspective of architecture!

  • Ali said:

    I love Louis Kahn, i really think his works not only changed architecture in a sense, but also has a divinity in them that makes you feel so blessed when you are in them. something like the use of sacred geometry in architecture. great post

  • Bruno Bravo said:

    The list is really scary.

    No Hassan Fathi?
    No Barragán?

    Tom Wright!? do you consider this dignified architecture?

  • nikhil said:

    Some of these works are good but many great architects like Laurie Baker, Hsaan Fathi, Corbusier etc. are missing. it is insulting!!

  • Misbah said:

    Good list! some people are disappointed but 15 cant include all.
    Appreciation for the poor workers who actually completed all the work of such great architects.

  • Besjan Kryeziu said:

    next time you must include Le Corbusier, Walter Gropius, Tadao Ando, Peter Eisenman.

  • John Bennet said:

    No Oscar Niemeyer? By far the best…

  • R_Cq said:

    Please… this IS not a credible list. there are some notable names, who have been crucial to the evolution of architecture, that have been left out. And some not all that important ones that have been included. I will (and i’m sure many) will not be taking this list seriously.

  • Nic said:

    where’s ANTONI GAUDI!!!!

  • Mediha Polat said:

    Santiago CALAVATRA?

  • Brandon Carr said:

    Le Courbusier. plus, there is Tristan D’Estree Sterk for his incredible innovative advancements in Robotic Architecture. without Le Courbusier, Frank LLoyd Wright and D’Estree Sterk, no list of amazing Architects is ever complete. In my opinion.

  • naga said:

    le corbusier should be on the list

  • arvin said:

    frank gehry, i m pei, le corbusier. some of the people that i expected on the list weren’t here. why not!?

  • Thuan said:

    Luis Barragan, Le corbusier need to be on list also!

  • STEPHEN said:

    Where is Zaha Hadid ….. Architects are zero without her … the master brilliant women.The god of creative Building and Interior Architectural Design.

  • Dave Girma said:

    I think you made this list based on the awards they received. But Frank Gehry must be included.

  • Ritwika said:

    Did anybody mention IM Pei…We know him from the famous Louvre pyramid!

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