Architecture is everywhere. It is inescapable, impacting just about every part of your life, whether you realize it or not.
Your home, the school you attend, the office where you work all were designed with a specific purpose in mind. Architecture has the ability to materially affect business productivity, the growth of communities, mental health, and even your physical health.
As stated by the late and immensely talented Zaha Hadid, “I don't think that architecture is only about shelter, is only about a very simple enclosure. It should be able to excite you, to calm you, to make you think.”
Though there are 2.7 million architects across the planet, there are only a handful of architects who have shaped the course of history, capturing the minds and hearts of people around the world. These architects' influence can be felt across various industries making their way into fashion, product design, and art.
Whether you are someone who is just beginning their career in architecture or someone who appreciates great design, the following architects are some of the most influential architects in history.
You may have seen this coming a mile away. Gaudi’s work is some of the most recognizable work to this day. His work transformed the perception of Barcelona, creating some of the most iconic and unique looking buildings in history.
Ahead of his time, Gaudi’s work draws inspiration from nature and effortlessly blends various aspects of both Baroque, Gothic, Moorish and Victorian elements. Nowhere is this most evident than in his 1883 La Sagrada Familia and the creation of the famous apartment block known as the Casa Milla.
Antoni Gaudi’s work has influenced generations of architects from all ends of the earth.
Eero Saarinen is a 20th-century architect that caught the world’s eye with his neo-futuristic style. Like machines coming to life, his design is simple yet features sweeping, and arching structural curves. His soaring and transcendent design language presented itself in his design of the 1962 JFK terminal.
The Canadian born architect’s work can be found in cities and even on college campuses across the globe. Frank Gehry’s work has been described as the most important work of contemporary architecture, often even being referred to as the most important architect of our age.
Alive and well at 87 years old, the architect’s fluid design language can be recognized easily, buildings that seem to defy logic and conventional construction methods. His most recognizable works like the Disney Hall in Los Angeles, the Guggenheim Bilbao and MIT’s Stata Center attract thousands of visitors each year.
Mies Van der Rohe
Less is more lays at the heart of Mies Van der Rohe’s philosophy. Miles Van der Rohe influenced the emergence and popularity of minimalism seen in the west during the 1950s. His work centered around stripping down architecture to its most elemental geometric forms using simple materials such as steel and plate glass as part of his design language
The legendary 1929 Barcelona Pavilion captures his love for minimalism, again using the simplest materials to create an opulent building.
Johnson’s genius centered around taking preconceived architecture ideas and refining them to a completely new level. Founding Director of the Museum of Modern Art, Johnson built on ideas from architects like Mies Van der Rohe creating his iconic hyper-minimalist Glass House, a building that places an emphasis on using the simplest materials to create an exquisite level of refined luxury.
Niemeyer took cues from both Frank Gehry and Zaha Hadid employing curvilinear forms and fluid design language during a time period where boxy designs were very much in style. Using this as his centerpiece for his creations, Niemeyer also incorporated a level of minimalism that was borrowed from Mies Van der Rohe.
Frank Lloyd Wright
You have seen and felt Frank Lloyd Wright’s work. His curvilinear elements have appeared inside one of the most celebrate and instagrammable museums in the world, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.
Though his work evolved over time, Wright’s work originally centered around clean geometries with a huge emphasis on horizontal planes. The Falling Water residence in the Pennsylvania wilderness is one of the most recognizable buildings in the world.
Richard Rogers was a leading proponent of the architectural movement known as High Tech and Structural Expressionism. His 1977 Pompidou Center embodies these movements bringing the exterior of the building outside, challenging the idea of what is presented in modern structures.
Norman Foster works rely heavily on geodesic design, using a tessellated pattern of triangular forms in his most iconic work. Foster’s commercial skyscraper 30 St Mary Axe in London, aka The Gerkin, has become London’s most recognizable building, synonymous with international symbols like the Eiffel tower in Paris.
Renzo Piano’s work embodies a host of various different styles. Piano’s work is very eclectic taking its shape in everything from Neo-Brutalism to extremely well-lit spaces. Most of Piano’s work centers on public spaces that promote art and community, which ties in very closely to the architect’s belief on the importance of community.
From the creation of Whitney Museum to the Shard in London his work has taken center stage across the globe, inspiring a new generation of architects.
Zaha Hadid is probably the most recognizable architect on the planet. Zaha’s work has inspired countless people in and out of architecture in the worlds of fashion, in product design, and in art.
Hadid takes inspiration directly from nature with her designs taking on a more organic-like presentation. Zaha’s designs are described as futuristic employing curving and swooping structures, challenging any preconceived ideas about geometric design.