The most notable architecture, design, and iconic buildings of today are changing the skyline of today’s cities. Thanks to the visionary architects of the last century have inspired countless modern-day architects with their daring and mystifying projects.
We’ve gathered a list of the most amazing contemporary architects and their work in order to inspire you.
Get inspired by these fascinating large scale projects.
Richard Meier, born on October 12, 1934, is an American abstract artist and architect, whose geometric designs make prominent use of the color white.
A winner of the Pritzker Architecture Prize in 1984, Meier has designed several iconic buildings including the Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art. Local media referred to the museum as “the pearl” among the old architecture of Barcelona.
He is one of Britain’s most prolific architects of his generation. When you are travelling to London, one of the first buildings to strike your eye will be the 30 St Mary Axe. The building is a commercial skyscraper in London’s primary financial district.
4. Renzo Piano –The Shard
Renzo Piano, born on September 14, 1937, is an Italian contemporary, abstract and functional architect.
One of his most notable projects is “The Shard”, which is the tallest building in the United Kingdom (309 meters).
Santiago Calatrava, born on July 28, 1951, is a Spanish architect, structural design and analyst engineer, sculptor, and painter.
His largest project in the City of Arts and Sciences in his birthplace, Valencia. The building is an entertainment-based cultural and architectural complex. It is the most important modern tourist destination in the city of Valencia and one of the 12 Treasures of Spain.
Ieoh Ming Pei, born on April 26, 1917, is a Chinese American architect and he is often called the master of modern architecture.
One of his most notable projects is” The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame”, that recognizes and archives the history of the best-known and most influential artists, producers, engineers, and other notable figures who have had some major influence on the development of rock and roll.
Jean Nouvel, born on August 12, 1945, is a French architect. At 25, Novel started a firm with François Seigneur.
In 2008, he received the Pritzker Prize for his work on over 200 projects, including Doha Office Tower in Qatar. Doha Tower is an iconic tower located in Doha, Qatar. The $125-million office building, has a height of 232 meters, with 46 floors.
Frank Owen Gehry, born on February 28, 1929, is a Canadian-born American architect. A number of his buildings, including his private residence, have become world-renowned attractions.
His works are cited as being among the most important works of contemporary architecture. The building of the Louis Vuitton Foundation is an art museum and cultural center and is one of Frank Gehry’s best-known works.
10. Tom Wright – The Burj Al Arab
Tom Wright, born on September 18, 1957, is a British architect best known as the designer of the Burj Al Arab in Dubai.
The Burj Al Arab is a luxury hotel that is the fifth tallest hotel in the world, although 39% of its total height is made up of non-occupiable space. The shape of the structure is designed to resemble the sail of a ship.
Balkrishna Dosh, born on August 26, 1927, is an Indian architect, known as the Eco-friendly Architect of the Millennium.
He is considered to be an important figure of Indian architecture and in 2018 he became the first Indian architect to receive the Pritzker Architecture Prize. One of his most notable works is The Aranya Housing Project which is considered a model project for its care for third world urban poor.
12. Ole Scheeren – The Interlace
Ole Scheeren, born on January 6, 1971, is a German architect and urbanist. You can see his contemporary architectural style in various buildings such as The Interlace which won the World Building of the year award in 2015.
The Interlace is a large residential complex in Singapore consisting of a series of apartment blocks stacked diagonally across one another. The concept behind The Interlace was to find a way of creating high-density housing without adding another tower block to Singapore’s skyline.
Peter Eisenman, born on August 11, 1932, is an American architect who is considered one of the New York Five, a group of world-renowned architects of New York City.
His style of architecture mainly focuses on high modernism or deconstruction. One of his most notable works is the Holocaust Museum in Berlin, a memorial to the Jewish victims of the Holocaust.
His major works include a style of conservatism and modernism. One of his marvellous pieces of architecture is the Paula Rego Museum. The design was made in concordance with Paula Rego’s wishes. She stated that the building should be “fun, lively and also a bit mischievous”.
Kazuyo Sejima, born on October 29, 1956, is a Japanese architect known for her clear modernist elements in her designs.
Her buildings are distinguished by the fact that they have large windows which creates a fluid transition between interior and exterior. One of these buildings that describe her style is the Rolex Learning Center.
16. Moshe Safdie – Habitat 67
Moshe Safdie, born on July 14, 1938, is an Israeli-Canadian architect, urban designer, educator, theorist, and author.
Safdie is famous for architecture which bends lines and curves to create geometry that has never been defined before. He is most identified with Habitat 67, which paved the way for his international career. Habitat is a model community and housing complex in Montreal and is considered one of the most recognizable and spectacular buildings in Canada.
17. Shigeru Ban – The Paper Dome
Shigeru Ban, born on August 5, 1957, is a Japanese architect, known for his innovative work with paper, particularly recycled cardboard tubes.
His designs are minimalist and require only the necessary building material. One of these types of works is the Paper Dome, a temporary church building.
David Chipperfield, born on December 18, 1953, is an English Architect who is known for his contemporary architectural style.
One of his buildings that describes the best his style is The Hepworth Wakefield and the art museum that received 100,000 visitors is the first five weeks after opening.
Fumihiko Maki, born on September 6, 1928, is a Japanese architect who received the Pritzker Prize for his work, which often explores pioneering uses of new materials and fuses the cultures of east and west.
The project that brought him the most desired prize in architecture is the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium. The building is characterized by the contemporary design style that made Fumihiko Maki known worldwide.
John Andrews, born on October 29, 1934, is an Australian architect, known for designing a number of acclaimed structures in Australia, Canada, and the United States.
The first completed building of the campus named after its designer, John Andrews, was built in a “brutalist” architectural style and completed in 1964.
Peter Zumthor, born on April 26, 1943, is a Swiss architect known for his uncompromising and minimalist work.
Herzog & de Meuron is a Swiss architecture firm with its head office in Basel, Switzerland.
They are best known for their conversion of the giant Bankside Power Station in London to the new home of Tate Modern, one of the largest museums of modern and contemporary art in the world.
Ryue Nishizawa, born in 1966 is a Japanese architect based in Tokyo.
One of his eye-catching projects is the “garden and house”, a five-story townhouse fronted by a stack of gardens.
The building serves as the Center for Technological Innovation at the Catholic University of Chile.
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Their work emphasizes human activity and connectivity as it can be seen in the work of the “Roof House”.
One of their projects that
Taller de Arquitectura established by Mauricio Rocha in 1991. Later on, in 2012, Gabriela Carrillo joined the firm and the name was changed to Taller.
Taller projects try to develop contemporary architecture, focusing on the environment and on the overall efficiency.
One of their known projects is the Criminal Courts for Oral Trials in Mexico. The project matches the Taller ideology of design and functionality.
The Serpentine Galleries are two contemporary art galleries situated in London.
Every year they appoint world-renowned architects to build a temporary summer pavilion. Frida Escobedo was the youngest architect to ever work on this project.
Solano Benitez, born in 1963 is a Paraguayan architect.
In 1987 he founded his own firm that tries to produce sustainable and economic solutions. One of these buildings is the Unilever Building, a large container of offices that permits entry of light and proper ventilation.
Dominique Perrault, born on April 9, 1953, is a French architect.
He had and has projects all around the world, some notable ones are the Olympic Velodrome and Olympic swimming pool in Berlin, the Olympic Tennis Stadium in Madrid, the Fukoku Tower in Osaka or the French National Library.
Another project that he is working on is the DC Towers. Only one of the DC Tower is finished and is currently the tallest skyscraper in Austria.
Álvaro Siza, born on June 25, 1933, is a Portuguese architect known for his simple but breath-taking projects. He stated that “architects don’t invent anything, that they just transform reality”.
One of his awarded projects is the Ibere Camargo Museum, inaugurated in 2007. The design museum follows the European trends of that specific year and perfectly shows Alvaro’s style.
Antoine Predock, born in 1936 in an American architect based in New Mexico.
His style is aiming to preserve the cultural foundation of a scene and he is designing his creations as being part of the landscape. One of his famous projects that reflects his ideologies is the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.
Ben van Berkel, born in 1957 is a Dutch architect; who founded together with his wife, UNStudio. One of his memorable projects is the Erasmus Bridge, which was accomplished before the creation of his new office, UNStudio.
The bridge is compared with a swan by the public and described by the architect as being “a bracket construction in sky-coloured steel [that] can appear thin as a needle, or wide as a harp”.
Bernard Tschumi, born on January 25, 1944, is a Swiss architect and educator who is known for his deconstruction approach towards his projects.
One of his most well-known works is The New Acropolis Museum, a place that stores the most important works of art and architecture.
35. Bjarke Ingels – The 8 House
Bjarke Ingels, born on October 2, 1974, is a Danish architect known for his innovative and ambitious design approach, many of his buildings defy traditional architectural stereotypes.
One of his most notable projects is the “8 House”. The building is a mixture of three types of residential housing and retail and office spaces.
The towers were the tallest building between 1998 and 2004 and they still are the tallest twin towers in the world. Cesar Pelli states that “Humanity has an obsession with building big” and the fact that “Tall has power.”
His work is being described as having a bold design, artistic touch and focusing on the importance of the environment and landscape.
Château Cheval Blanc is a winery designed by our architect where his focus was not put only on the structure but also on the contrast between the landscape and the design of the building.
The structure holds sentimental value and history for the reason that it is built on the same spot where a tragedy happened to the old World Trade Center.
39. Jeanne Gang – The Aqua Tower
Jeanne Gang, born on March 19, 1964, is an American architect and urban designer. She’s work is characterized by having an innovative use of materials and an environmentally sensitive approach.
Her most famous work is the Aqua Tower, an 82-story residential skyscraper. The building was awarded as being the best skyscraper of the year 2009.
Joshua Prince-Ramus, born on August 11, 1969, is an American architect and founder of REX, the international architecture, and design firm. He received many awards for one of the best young architects of our era.
One of his works that brought him these awards is the” Vakko Headquarters and Power Media Center”. The construction is two office buildings, built one inside the other.
Ken Yeang, born on October 6, 1949, is a Malaysian architect, well known for his Eco-architecture and green design.
Kengo Kuma, born in 1954 is a Japanese architect and professor. He is known for his goal to recover the traditions that the Japanese architecture holds and implement them in the architecture from our century.
One of his key projects is the Bamboo Wall House, which had the purpose to contrast the Great Wall of China in the sense of fragility and transparency.
Ma Yansong, born in 1975 is a Chinese architect and founder of MAD architects. His ideology comes from the concept that contemporary architecture has no spirit and he wants to make buildings that inspire people and are against this concept of today.
One of his most notable projects is the Absolute Towers, residence with the focus on reducing energy load and giving to its inhabitants as much light as possible.
Their architecture is known for its elegance, their focus on the desires and needs of the public and the importance that they give to the environment. One example of their exemplary work is the Shenzhen Bao
One of his best buildings is the National Museum of Roman Art, where Rafael Moneo used Roman techniques, materials and proportions in order to give authenticity to the building.
Rafael Viñoly, born in 1944 is an Uruguayan architect, who describes itself as being a practical and intelligent architect who takes into consideration all the factors that go into the architecture of a building.
One of his most famous works is 432 Park Avenue, the third tallest building in North America.
One of his memorable projects is the Pompidou Centre, designed with the help of Renzo Piano and Gianfranco Franchini.
The project is described as being “not a building but a town where you find everything – lunch, great art, a library, great music”.
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Robert Stern, born on May 23, 1939, is an American architect, which often uses “modern traditionalist” to describe his work.
Sheila Sri Prakash, born
While working on her firm, Shilpa Architects, she became one of the most influential architects in the world. She is being known for focusing on local and cultural arts and by centre her architecture on sustainability.
Sheila designed the first official entrance to Mahindra World City – the first Special Economic Zone in Tamil Nadu. The design is meant to reflect the city being a “new hope”.
Steven Holl, born on December 9, 1947, is considered one of the most important American architects for the importance that he gives to natural light.
He has the ability to utilize the light and shadows in his design in order to get the best balance between the two.
One of his most known projects is the Kiasma Museum in Helsinki, which is on par with his abilities, being designed in such a way so it can catch the low angle of the Scandinavian sun.
51. Tadao Ando – The Row House
Tadao Ando, born
His unique and abstract style brought him many awards including the most desired award, the Pritzker Architecture Prize in 1995.
One of his most famous works that
Sir Terry Farrell, born on May 12, 1938, is a British architect and urban designer.
One of his most famous projects is the MI6 Building, headquarters of the Secret Intelligence Service of the United Kingdom.
The construction characterizes the best his contextual urban design and postmodernism style.
Thomas Heatherwick, born
One of his most notable works is the Learning Hub in Singapore, an academic building with no corridors that creates a dynamic environment and encourage interactions between students.
55. Toyo Ito – The Tower of Winds
Toyo Ito, born on June 1, 1941, is a Japanese architect, world known for his creative and unique projects and for his innovative designs.
Even dough the building is just a storage house it looks like so much more due to the relation between nature and architecture that Toyo Ito manages to implement in its design.
Their projects touch a vast area of activity, from cultural spaces, commercial office buildings, transportation facilities to educational facilities, residential and hospitality developments.
One of their most famous works is the Lotte World Tower, the 5th tallest building in the world, that is inspired by traditional Korean art and design.
The building is located in Dhaka, Bangladesh and serves as the epitome of “peace and solidarity”.
Stanley Tigerman, born on September 20, 1930, is an American architect, theorist, and designer, characterized by his social and development-mindset.
One of his most known works is the Illinois Holocaust Museum, a building that has the mission to honour those who were lost and teach the mass how to fight against hate and indifference.
James Polshek, born on February 11, 1930, is an American architect known for his attention that he gives to people and their needs and his ability to add modern architecture components to the traditional ones.
David Adjaye, born on September 22, 1966, is a British architect known for his diversified design and unique way of using materials and light.
One of his most known projects is the “National Museum of African American History and Culture” in Washington DC. The building and the connection between its design and surrounding landscape represent America’s long African culture.
61. Wang Shu – The Ningbo Museum
Wang Shu, born on November 4, 1963, is a Chinese architect known for his modern design accomplished by using classic materials and an older style.
His well-known design approach can be seen in his most famous work, The Ningbo Museum.
Glenn earns this title not by building tall and imposing buildings but by designing smaller settlements that let him focus on economical design, preserving energy and environment. One of the many examples of buildings that enter this category is the Riversdale Boyd Education Centre.
Elia Zenghelis, born in 1937 is a Greek architect characterized by simplifying structures, materials and building taking into account the landscape and environment.
An example of his work is the Ashikita House of Youth, which was built in such a manner so the design will direct people’s eyes towards the water.
Peter Pennoyer, born on February 19, 1957, in an American architect known for his traditional and classic design.
Even though he has many outstanding modern works, one of the most famous ones is the Metropolitan Opera Club, which we can say it’s strengthened his classic style.
Maya Ying Lin, born on October 5, 1959, is an American designer and architect best known for sculptures and historical memories but also for her care for nature and the environment.
Her most famous project is the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, build in the honor of the US army that fought in the Vietnam War.
Denise Scott Brown, born on October 3, 1931, is a South African architect that became one of the most influential architects of the past century by her planning, writing and teaching architecture.
She and her husband manage to build one of the most sophisticated public projects in the Postmodernism, the Sainsbury Wing.
Amanda Levete, born on November 17, 1955, is a British architect, considered one of the most innovative architects in the UK.
She obtained this title by designing the Selfridges Building with the Future System team. The building is part of the Bullring Shopping Centre, it cost 60 pounds and it is one of the most futuristic buildings in Birmingham.
Included in this category are museums, libraries, galleries and residential buildings. One of the most notable ones being the David Zwirner Gallery.
Odile Decq, born in 1955 is an award-winning French architect and founder of Studio Odile Decq.
Her work is characterized by the importance that she gives to the overall space. An example is the Fangshan Tangshan National Geopark Museum, where the interior is spacious and structured.
Susana Torre, born in 1944 is an Argentinian architect known for her projects that gather cultural, social and regional topics.
Her style can be recognized is some of her best-known projects like Fire Station Five in Columbus, the Clark and Garvey Houses in The Hamptons and the Consulate of the Ivory Coast in New York City.
She is known as one of the most influential designers of cultural buildings. One of her many known buildings is the Institute of Contemporary Art, the first new art museum to be built in Boston.
He finished his studies in Germany and then decided to come back and help his home town. He is known for building the Primary School in Gando alongside many other school-related buildings.
He is known for his sustainable architectural design and for being one of the few who was studding this aspect before being a priority in Canada.
One of his well-known projects is the Remai Modern art museum.
Douglas Cardinal, born on March 7, 1934, is a Canadian architect known for his curved style.
One example is the Canadian Museum of History, Canada’s most visited museum.
Jack Diamond is a Canadian architect known for his ability to analyze the construction site.
He won many awards on different types of buildings, from civic and residential to academic and cultural projects.
One of the most famous ones is the Four Seasons Centre, a theater in Toronto with a capacity of 2000.
Bruno Freschi, born on April 18, 1937, is a Canadian architect known for his specific focus on space, form, and urbanism.
One of his projects is the Science World where his style can be clearly seen.
Barton Myers, born on November 6, 1934, is an American architect and he is known for his focus on urban consolidation, the ability of a building to define the surroundings and the ability to combine the old and new architectural combinations.
His style can be seen in one of his most popular projects, the New Jersey Performing Arts Center.
Altuğ Çinici, born in 1935 is a Turkish architect known for her fast adaptability to modernization and her focus on the environment.
She earned a lot of awards over the years and one of the reasons is one of her most notable works, the Middle East Technical University.
William McDonough, born on February 20, 1951, is an American architect known for his focus on “green” architecture and for minimizing the negative environmental impact.
One of his most famous construction is the NASA Sustainability Base, which shows the best of his ecological style.
Throughout the years, the architectural firm achieved multiple awards, and currently additional to architectural and urban design holds a large portfolio of interior design projects.
81. Minsuk Cho – The S-Trenue Tower
His work is worldwide recognized for its shape, size, innovation and space efficiency. A clear example of all mentioned in the residential/office tower, the S-Trenue Tower.
82. MVRDV : Winy Maas, Jacob van Rijs, and Nathalie de Vries – The EXPO 2000 Pavilion
The company is based in the Netherlands and had implemented contemporary architectural solutions and urban issues all over the world.
One of their most well-known projects is the EXPO 2000 Pavilion, which was made to represent a balance between nature and technology.
Sergey Skuratov states seeing “the buildings as living things.” His most well-known project, for now, is “House on Mosfilmovskaya”, a skyscraper which almost became demolished at the time by former Moscow mayor Yuri Luzhkov, because of its height (213 meters).
However, his passion for skyscrapers continues, as Moscow is currently designing its “tallest” skyscraper yet, reaching 404 meters, directed by his company, Sergey Skuratov Architects.
Hafeez Contractor, born in 1950 is an Indian architect known for building a large number of skyscrapers in India.
He also stated that he does not have a particular style, he wants to make beautiful and imposing construction. An example is the twin-tower residential skyscraper, The Imperial.
Raj Rewal, born in 1934 is an Indian architect, known for his ability to combine light and dark design and also the ability to connect the interior design with the exterior landscape.
One of his most known projects that reflect his style is the Parliament Library in New Delhi.
Rahul Mehrotra is an Indian architect and founder of RMA Architects. The firm is known for the equal importance that they give to urban design, architecture, planning, landscape, and historic preservation.
One of their most famous projects is the KMC Corporate Office, which illustrates Rahul Mehrotra’s style; the building is able to control the amount of light and air that circulates inside the construction.
Their work includes family houses, luxury villas or commercial towers. One work that is included here is the Exim Tower, which is in concordance with the Indian tradition and the firm style.
Serie Architects are focusing on architecture, urban design and research.
One of their well-known projects is the Jameel Arts Centre Dubai, where their focus on space efficiency and elegance can be seen, as well as the relation between inside and outside, art and nature.
Xavier Vilalta, Vilalta Studio – LidetaMercato in Ethiopia.
Vilalta Studio operates in the fields of architecture, urbanism and design. Declaring that “we love nature and we care about people”, firms design philosophy is to connect the old and the new.
The Lideta Mercato was intended to be a shopping mall just like many others in the city of Addis Ababa. Common issues of the existing malls in the city were uncomfortable thermal conditions and over-illumination in the interiors.
The observation of the Old Mercato, the largest open-air market in Africa, was an inspiration to redefine the program of the building, conceiving a multi-story contemporary market instead of a conventional shopping mall based on large shops.
The skin of the building was designed considering the local climate conditions and traditions. The facade acts as protection from the sun, controlling the natural light and ventilation in the interior spaces.
It was built using a lightweight concrete prefab system, and the shapes come from a traditional Ethiopian fractal pattern commonly found in the local fabrics.
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We have worked hard to represent the best contemporary architects in the world under one list. Their work is truly inspiring and we hope you learned something new from this list. Don’t hesitate to tell us who we’ve missed.
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