Famous Architects & Their Works

Famous Architects

The famous architect

Architecture is arguably the very fabric that clads our society. The men and women behind these creations are often nameless and unknown, and the average person often goes their entire lives without knowing exactly who is responsible for shaping their day to day quality of life.

However, once in a while, one of these creators will stand out as a true master of their craft, becoming famous for what they do. Famous architects yield influence, inspire their peers, shape the architecture of the world, and of course, can amass a lot of wealth that comes with the fame.

This article will take a look at some of the most famous and influential architects in the world and their legacies.

What does it mean to be famous?

Being famous means being known, appreciated (or disliked! ) and recognized by many people. A famous person is a person that is either held in esteem by people for a good reason, or is notorious or well known for their bad qualities, in which case the person will be said to be infamous.

As a result, famous people, buildings, objects, entities and companies, can heavily influences our lives and society.

What is a famous architect?

Famous architects are architects that have stood out from their peers for one reason or another. Their claim to fame could be their unique personalities, their portfolio of interesting projects, the fact that they are public figures, or some specific professional achievements that they may have.

Man has always built and shaped his environment. And as long as man has been building, there have been architects. As the quality of built environment evolved, so did the public’s appreciation for good design and function, and it was of course (in most cases) the architects overseeing them who were responsible.

These were architects who were celebrated for being good, innovative, or different in what they did. Today, we call them “star architects”, because their fame and celebrity is akin to that of movie/music stars.

The most famous architects in history come from all over the world. They include both historical architects who designed buildings that have long outlived them and stood the test of time, to the more modern architects that are redefining architecture as we know it every day.

Who is the world’s greatest architect?

Although it is difficult to name the world’s single greatest architect, there are several master architects who are arguably strong contenders for the title. Here are some of the best architects of all time:

  1. Zaha Hadid – The most famous modern female architect in the world. She was a pioneer who transformed architecture in the 21st Century. Some of her buildings include the Serpentine Galleries, the London Aquatics Centre, the Bridge Pavilion in Zaragoza, and the Guangzhou Opera House.
  2. Frank Gehry – Gehry is one of the most famous architects in the world today. Some of his buildings include the Guggenheim Museum in Spain, the Walt Disney Hall in Los Angeles, and the Dancing House in Prague.
  3. Frank Lloyd Wright – Wright was the creator of the Prairie House architectural style and one of the most celebrated architects in the world. Some of his most famous works include the Falling Water House, the Robbie House, and the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo.
  4. Le Corbusier – Corbusier was one of the pioneers of modern architecture. Some of his buildings include Villa Savoye, Notre Dame Du Haut, and the United Nations Headquarters in New York, paved the way for the modern architecture we know today.
  5. Antoni Gaudi – Gaudi had a unique style that made him stand out from his peers. He also took a different approach to designing his buildings, preferring to work in 3D models as opposed to drawing the plans of the buildings he intended to build. Some of his work includes the Segrada Familia, Casa Mila, Park Guell, and Casa Battlo.
  6. Walter Gropius – Gropius was one of the founding fathers of modernism, and the mind behind the Bauhaus. Some of his buildings include the Fagus Factory, the MetLife building, the Gropius House, and the US Embassy in Athens.
  7. Renzo Piano – Piano is an architect without a signature style. However, his buildings are all as masterful as they are diverse. Some of them include the Shard in London, the Whitney Museum in New York, and the Menil Collection in Texas.
  8. Daniel Libeskind – Libeskind is a master of deconstructivism and distortion. Some of his most striking works include London’s Imperial War Museum, Denver Art Museum, Bord Gais Energy Theatre in Dublin, and the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Fransisco.
  9. Rem Koolhaas – Koolhaas is Pritzker prize winning architect, he is known for his innovative creations. Some of them include the CCTV Center in Beijing, the De Rotterdam Complex, the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art in Moscow, and the Shenzhen Stock Exchange in China.
  10. Ludwig Mies van der Rohe – Mies together with Corbusier was one of the pioneers of modern architecture, and one of the most important architects of our time. Some of his buildings include the Barcelona Pavilion, Farnsworth House, Seagram Building, and the 330 North Wabash.

Who is the most famous?

Here is a list of the most famous architects of all time:

  1. Ludwig Mies van der Rohe
  2. Le Corbusier
  3. Walter Gropius
  4. Zaha Hadid
  5. Frank Lloyd Wright
  6. Antoni Gaudi
  7. Frank Gehry
  8. Renzo Piano
  9. Rem Koolhaas
  10. Norman Foster

Who is the richest architect?

Today, the highest earning architect in the world is 77-year-old Norman Foster of Foster and Partners. He has a salary of £2m a year. In 2007, he made £120 million when he sold 40% of his practice. He still owns a 45% stake in the firm.

Other notable rich architects and practices include RMJM, a Scottish practice, with an £80 million valuation, and Irvine and James Sellar, developers of the Shard in London, with a £200 million valuation. At the time of her death, Zaha Hadid was worth £215 million.

What kind of architect makes the most money?

The wages of architects vary wildly depending on a number of factors. Some of which be cover in our salary guide below:

Architects salary guide

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2017 the median annual salary for architects in the US was approximately $76,930, with the top 10% of architects making $129,810, while the bottom 10% made $46,600. Some of the factors that lead to this disparity include the location, firm size, experience, education level, and licensing.

In the US, the states with the most jobs for architects are New York and California. However, Georgia pays its architects best, at a mean of $97,900. For Metropolitan areas, the highest paid architects are in West Palm Beach Florida, with a mean salary of $120,380.

The highest paid architects work for larger firms with revenues of $15 million or more. They earn a mean income of $104,870. These architects are generally found in major metropolitan areas.

10 of the best architects of all time

This list by its very nature can be extremely subjective, however based on their impact, influence, popularity and success, here are some of what we consider to be best architects of all time:

1. Antoni Gaudi

Gaudi built all of his projects in Barcelona, where he spent his entire career. His style was a mix of Baroque, Gothic, Victorian and Moorish elements. His most famous buildings include the La Sagrada Familia and the Casa Milla.

2. Frank Lloyd Wright

Wright revolutionized 20th century architect by coming up with the all American Prairie architecture style. It employed clean geometries and an emphasis on horizontality. Some of his most famous works include the Falling Water House and the Guggenheim Museum.

3. Mies van der Rohe

His famous mantra, “Less is more”, has inspired countless architects all over the world. He stripped architecture to its basic elements and introduced the world to minimalism. Some of his buildings include the Barcelona Pavilion and the Seagram’s Tower in New York.

4. Eero Saarinen

He went against the grain of the International style and employed sweeping curves in his designs. Some of his works include the JFK Terminal for the TWA, and the St. Louis Gateway Arch.

5. Frank Gehry

He is the most famous architect in the world today. Some of his most famous buildings include the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, the Disney Hall in Los Angeles, and the MIT Stata Centre in Cambridge, MA.

6. Norman Foster

British architect Norman Foster is one of the most famous living architects in the world. Some of his work includes the Gherkin, London, the Hearst Tower, the Vaiduc de Millau, and the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts.

7. Renzo Piano

Renzo Piano is unique for not being unique. He does not have a single style, with everything he does varying in look and design. Some of his buildings include the Shard in London, the Whitney Museum, and the Menil Collection, Texas.

8. Zaha Hadid

Known as the queen of the curve, she is the first woman to have won the Pritzker Prize. Some of her buildings include the Heydar Aliyev Center, the London Aquatics Centre, the Guangzhou Opera House, and the Napoli Afragola Railway Station.

9. Oscar Niemeyer

He was a key figure in the development of midcentury modernist architecture. His designs include the UN Building in New York and the civic buildings in Brasilia.

10. Rem Koolhaas

A designer and architectural theorist, Rem Koolhaas is one of the most influential architects of our time. He is most famous for the CCTV headquarters in Beijing, Seattle Public Library, and the Beijing Television Cultural Center.

The United States top 10 famous architects

  1. William Van Alen – Chrysler Building
  2. William F. Lamb – Empire State Building
  3. Bruce Graham – Sears Tower, Hancock Center
  4. Frank Lloyd Wright – Guggenheim Museum, Falling Water House
  5. Frank Gehry – Walt Disney Concert Hall
  6. Daniel Burnham – Union Station, Washington DC
  7. Ludwig Mies van der Rohe – Seagram Building
  8. Philip Johnson – New York State Pavilion
  9. Louis Khan – Phillips Exeter Academy Library
  10. Adrian Smith – New York Central Park Tower

Famous female architects

  1. Zaha Hadid – Heydar Aliyev Center, London Aquatics Centre
  2. Denise Scott Brown – Allen Memorial Art Museum
  3. Maya Lin – Vietnam Veterans Memorial
  4. Odile Decq – Greenland Pavilion, Shanghai, China
  5. Neri Oxman – Silk Pavilion
  6. Marion Mahony Griffin – Fishwick House
  7. Julia Morgan – Berkeley City Club
  8. Eileen Gray – Villa Tempe a paia
  9. Norma Merrick Sklarek – Mall of America, Minneapolis, Minnesota
  10. Amanda Levete – Selfridges Building, Birmingham


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