The 20th century transformed architecture as a discipline, with radical new movements creating truly iconic buildings. In part, these groundbreaking developments were made possible by technological advances, but in many cases, it was the great minds of our time who produced the biggest tectonic shifts. Here we examine ten of the most successful architects whose influence remains strong in the 21st century.
The man widely considered to be the greatest American architect never formally studied architecture, but he did believe passionately in developing a home-grown style that reflected the natural landscapes and culture of the United States. Born in 1967, Lloyd Wright designed and built more than 500 iconic creations in his lifetime, including New York’s celebrated Guggenheim Museum.
2. Ludwig Mies van der Rohe
German-American architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s pared-back modernist aesthetic and elegant use of industrial materials exert an enormous influence on contemporary design. Famous creations such as the S.R. Crown Hall, Chicago, and Tugendhat House, Brno, reflect Mies’ trademark style: Plate glass and open plan interiors contrast with structural steel decisively framing the space within.
3. Philip Johnson
Johnson’s influence stems as much from his role as the founder of the Department of Architecture and Design at New York’s Museum of Modern Art as from his own body of work. His innovative use of materials such as glass and crystal is exemplified in one of his most playful creations: the Crystal Cathedral, California.
4. Ieoh Ming Pei
Born in China in 1917, IM Pei moved to the US in his adolescence, and these dual national influences exert a strong influence on his designs. He gained wide recognition for his work on the John Fitzgerald Kennedy Library, Boston, a piece that exhibits his love of the ocean, stark geometric patterning and Asiatic aesthetic.
5. Frank Gehry
Meandering corrugated metal and wildly imaginative post-structuralist designs are the defining features of this controversial architect’s vision. Gehry’s work has become so well-known and admired that buildings such as the Walt Disney Concert Hall, LA, have become tourist attractions in their own right.
6. Renzo Piano
London’s Shard, the tallest building in Europe, is perhaps the most recognisable building by this Pritzker-winning Italian architect. Its famous shattered-glass design is a masterclass in engineering, style and perspective.
7. Moshe Safdie
Israel-born Safdie studied under the tutelage of Louis Kahn before becoming famous for his futuristic Khalsa Heritage Memorial and his groundbreaking work on Expo 67, Canada’s International and Universal Exposition.
8. Jean Nouvel
Nouvel’s eco-friendly designs have transformed skylines and living standards across the globe. One of his most notable projects, Our Central Park, Sydney, saw him collaborate with botanist Patrick Blanc to cover approximately half a residential skyscraper with fresh foliage.
9. Zaha Hadid
One of Forbes’ ‘Most Powerful Women’, Hadid is known for imaginative and daring projects such as Phaeno Science Centre and Guangzou Opera House, with designs plucked straight from science fiction.
10. Tom Wright
British architect Wright was born in 1957 and soared to fame with his Dubai skyscraper Burj Al Arab. The exclusive playground has the world’s tallest atrium, rooftop tennis courts and a helicopter launching pad.
If you’re interested in purchasing a contemporary home inspired by the groundbreaking work of these modern architects, contact Engel & Völkers today.