Famous Architects

Architects have been and will remain at the forefront of designing the built environment that surrounds us. As professional experts in the field of building, design and construction, architects use their creativity to simplify the complex process of designing and build socially and economically sustainable cities and communities. Following are some world famous architects known for their unique creative skills, vision and contributions.

Frank Lloyd Wright

Frank Lloyd Wright is one of America’s most famous architects. Although he had no formal education in architecture, he believed that his work as a farm hand in Wisconsin made him very perceptive and helped develop his spatial abilities. After studying engineering at the University of Wisconsin for a few semesters at the age of 15, he left to apprentice with J.L. Silsbee and Louis Sullivan. After working with them for six years, Wright opened his own practice. During his 70-year career, Wright designed 1,141 buildings, including homes, offices, churches, schools, libraries, bridges and museums. One of his most important contributions was the Prairie House style of architecture. He experimented with obtuse angles and circles, creating unusually shaped structures, an example of which is the spiral Guggenheim Museum (1943-49). He also developed a series of low-cost homes which he called Usonian. Although he earned recognition in the early 1900s as one of the popular modern architects he became the recipient of the American Institute of Architects only in 1949.

Some of his more famous projects were:

Frederick C. Robie House 1909

Unity Temple 1906

Fallingwater 1936

Johnson Wax Administration Building 1936

I.M. Pei

I. M. Pei one of the most famous modern architects was born in Canton, China in 1917. Pei grew up in Shanghai, but in 1935 he moved to the United States to study architecture and engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and later at Harvard University. He became the Director of Architecture at the real estate development firm, Webb & Knapp in 1948 and then founded his own firm in 1958.

Over the past fifty years, Ieoh Ming Pei has designed more than fifty buildings across the globe including industrial skyscrapers, museums and low income housing. Concerened more with function than theory, the defining feature of I. M. Pei’s style is the use of large, abstract forms and sharp, geometric designs. His glass clad structures are born from high tech modernist movement.

During his career, Pei and his firm have won numerous architecture awards. He won the prestigious Pritzker Prize in 1983.

Some of his more noteworthy buildings are:

The Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art at Cornell University

Bank of China Tower

John Hancock Tower

Louvre Pyramid

National Gallery

Le Corbusier

Le Corbusier, born in the late 19th century, was a pioneer of modern architecture. He founded what is popularly known as the International style or the Bauhaus. The essence of modern architecture as advocated by him was described in his 5-point theory that later became the guiding principle for many of his designs.

Freestanding support pillars

Open floor plan independent from the supports

Vertical facade that is free from the supports

Long horizontal sliding windows

Roof gardens

While the earlier buildings by Le Corbusier, called pure prisms were smooth, white concrete and glass structures elevated above the ground, his later designs used rough, heavy forms of stone, concrete, stucco and glass. He was a visionary who not only anticipated the role of the automobile but envisaged that cities would have big apartment buildings with park-like settings. Le Corbusier, as a famous architect was also known for his innovations in urban planning and his solutions for low income housing. Moreover, he believed that the stark buildings he designed would contribute to clean, bright, healthy cities. Le Corbusier’s dreams of such an urban haven were aptly realized in the Unité d’Habitation, or the “Radiant City,” in Marseilles, France which was built to incorporate shops, meeting rooms, and living quarters for 1,600 people in a 17-story structure. During his long life, Le Corbusier designed buildings in Europe, India, and Russia. Le Corbusier also designed one building in the United States and one in South America.

His most famous buildings are:

Palace for the League of Nations, Geneva 1927

Villa Savoye, Poissy, France 1929

Swiss Building, Cité Universitaire, Paris 1931

The Secretariat at the United Nations Headquarters, New York 1952

R. Buckminister Fuller

Born of poverty and bankruptcy, Buckheimer Fuller had contemplated suicide before his life changed courses and he became a famous architect known for his unique architectural styles dominating the 20th century. He believed that his life was an experiment and that it belonged to the universe. At the age of 32, he embarked on a journey to discover what a penniless and unknown individual might have to offer effectively to humanity. He searched for ways to do more with less so that all the people could be fed and have a shelter over their heads.

Although he never obtained a degree in architecture, he was a modern architect and engineer who designed revolutionary structures. His famous Dymaxion House was a pre-fabricated, pole-supported dwelling. His Dymaxion car was a streamlined, three-wheeled vehicle with the engine in the rear while his Dymaxion Air-Ocean Map projected a spherical world as a flat surface with no visible distortion. However, Fuller’s greatest contribution is perhaps the geodesic dome – a remarkable, sphere-like structure based on theories of “energetic-synergetic geometry” which he developed during WWII. Efficient and economical, the geodesic dome was widely hailed as a possible solution to world housing shortages.

Although his Dymaxion car did not achieve popularity and his design for geodesic domes is rarely used, Fuller made his mark in areas of architecture, mathematics, philosophy, religion, urban development and design.

His most important works included:

1932: The portable Dymaxion house manufactured

1934: The Dymaxion car

1938: Nine Chains to the Moon

1949: Developed the Geodesic Dome

1967: US Pavilion at Expo ’67, Montreal, Canada

1969: Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth

1970: Approaching the Benign Environment

Louis Sullivan

Louis Sullivan is known to be America’s first and original modern architect, as he believed in creating his own designs and forms rather than imitating older historic styles. The unique element in Sullivan’s design was that he was able to create aesthetic unity in buildings that were tall instead of the typical wide buildings of the older times. He often used masonry walls with terra cotta designs, with intertwining vines and leaves combined with crisp geometric shapes. Louis Sullivan believed that the exterior of an office building should reflect its interior structure and functions. Ornamentation should be as natural as possible and used only when needed. He rejected the classical references and the ubiquitous arches.

Some of his important buildings are

Wainwright Building

National Farmers’Bank (Sullivan’s “Arch”)

The Bradley House