Five Architects Shaking Up Design

You’ve probably walked past the designs of these architects on the street, visited them on your last vacation to a global city or even work in one. Perhaps you’ve crossed one of their bridges or stopped at one of their railway stations on journey through Europe. Chances are the design evoked a feeling: inspiration, wonder, giddiness, confusion. Regardless of the feeling it aroused, the fact that you felt something makes it a powerful design. The following are global architects who have shaped the architectural field and continue to leave an indelible impression.

ZAHA HADID

She’s has been called many things: controversial, impractical and a “paper” architect; however, even critics of Zaha Hadid have to admit that her innovative designs push the envelope of often-stale architecture into whimsical new territories, defying the laws of physics along the way. She’s a pioneer who kicked open the door of the male-dominated field, crafting complex dynamic structures that drive the evolution of the architectural ideal into a new design aesthetic. Notable designs include the MAXXI: Museum of XXI Century Arts in Rome, which embodies the inspiration of innovation, multiculturalism and interdisciplinary function; the Nordpark Railway Stations in Austria with a shell-like exterior that takes inspiration from the movement of glaciers and the BMW Central Building in Germany which combines organization with modernism and a bit of whimsy.

SANTIAGO CALATRAVA


Spanish architect, Santiago Calatrava has built a solid career designing bridges and train stations. The structural engineer/architect/sculptor has been praised for linking traditional architecture and structural engineering. He designed the Bach de Roda-Felipe II Bridge in Barcelona, the Trinity Footbridge in Manchester, England and the Puente de la Mujer in the Puerto Madero district of Buenos Aires. Calatrava is also known for designing buildings as well, including the Olympic Sports Complex in Athens, the Turning Torso Malmö in Sweden, the Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia in Valencia, Spain and the Museum of Tomorrow (“Museu do Amanhã”) in Rio.

LORD NORMAN FOSTER


How many architects can say that they’ve been knighted by the Queen and honored with a Life Peerage? The man behind such icons of the urban landscape as London’s Swiss Re Tower (you might also know it as the Gherkin), New York’s Hearst Headquarters Tower and Moscow’s Crystal Island, was born in industrial Manchester, England. He attained degrees from Manchester University School of Architecture and City Planning and Yale University before founding Foster + Partners in 1967. Over the last four decades, the firm has won over 470 design awards and honors and over 86 international and national competitions. Lord Foster and his firm continue to design diverse structures and communities including the Faustino Winery in Spain, the Index in Dubai and the Luxembourg Royal Hamilius.

RENZO PIANO

The recipient of several awards including Kyoto Prize, the RIBA Royal Gold Medal for Architecture and the Pritzker Architecture Prize, Italian architect Renzo Piano has earned a reputation for creating imaginative yet functional buildings, both big and small. The 55,000 square foot Nasher Sculpture Center has become a vibrant art hub in Dallas, housing a collection of contemporary sculptures by leading artists as well as hosting monthly community events. Currently, the 310 meter Shard Tower, which promises to be the tallest building in the European Union, is under construction in London. The mixed-use tower is part of Southwark’s urban revitalization. He opened the Renzo Piano Building Workshop in 1981 in Genoa. Since then, he’s opened offices in Paris and New York.

RAFAEL VIÑOLY

Uruguayan-born, Argentinean-raised Rafael Viñoly began his career as a founding partner of Estudio de Arquitectura, which would evolve into one of the largest design firms in Latin America. “My design philosophy is rooted in the development of architectural ideas that are powerful, distinctive, and relevant to the specifics of both program and context,” he is quoted as saying on his website. Founded in 1983, Rafael Viñoly Architects PC has offices in New York, London and Los Angeles. Viñoly has designed London’s 160 meter tall 20 Fenchurch Street, aka the Walkie Talkie tower, as well as the exterior of the Vdara Hotel and Spa, which is part of MGM CityCenter in Las Vegas and the expansion of the Cleveland Museum of Art in Ohio. (www.constructiondigital.com)

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