Famous Architects who Changed Our Perspective ( Valencia, Barcelona, Madrid, Bilbao, Zaragoza, Paris

Santiago Calatrava (b. 28 July 1951)

Calatrava was born in Valencia and is one of the greatest architects, sculptors and structural engineers Spain has seen in the last century. The early world-wide recognition led to offices opening in Valencia, Zürich, Paris and New York City. He started his career running numerous civil engineering projects, such as bridges and train stations. The bridge Puente del Alamillo in Seville is the most prominent work as a civil engineer and it rapidly became a landmark of the city. The Montjuic Communications Tower in Barcelona and the Allen Lambert Galleria were his first works as an architect. The 54-story twisting tower in Malmö, Sweden (HSB Turning Torso) was also designed by Calatrava and is the second tallest residential buildings in Europe. He is currently designing the future station at World Trade Center Transportation Hub and it is planning numerous other projects.

Zaha Hadid (b. 31 October 1950)

Zaha Hadid was born in Iraq and was the first woman to win a Pritzker Architecture Prize (often called the Nobel Prize in architecture). She completed her studies in London, where she started working at the architecture company of her former teachers. In 1980, she opened her own practice in London – Zaha Hadid Architects. Her work is generally daring, unconventional and artistic and her structures are often characterized by a Deconstruvist approach. MAXXI – the National Museum of the 21st Century Arts is considered to be her finest work, but the subsequent structures are also highly acclaimed: the Bridge Pavilion in Zaragoza, Bergisel Ski Jump in Innsbruck, Phaeno Science Center and the Opera House in Guangzhou.

Norman Foster (b. 1 June 1935)

Foster is Britain’s greatest builder of landmark office buildings. After earning his Masters degree at the Yale School of Architecture, Foster created his own company – Foster and Partners. The firm’s breakthrough was The Willis Building in Ipswich, designed with open-plan office floors, roof gardens, a 25m pool and gymnasium – a true revelation for its time (1974). Through his work, Foster managed to transpose in architecture, the effect of globalization upon the major cities of the world. His structures are setting new standards for the interaction between building, the environment and people. There are dozens of grand works signed by Norman, including the following: the Millennium Bridge in London, 30 St Mary Axe or the Gherkin in London, Hearst Tower in New York City, Wembley Stadium in London and Torre Caja in Madrid.

Frank Gehry (b. 28 February 1929)

Awarded with “the most important architect of our age” by Vanity Fair, Frank Gehry has an amazing portfolio, whose works are said to be the masterpieces of contemporary architecture. Even if this statement might be arguable, one thing is clear: Gehry’s buildings (including his private residence) are world’s hottest tourist attractions. He was the only major architect of our times that became famous through his private residence in Santa Monica, California. Frank Gehry is definitely an advocate of the Deconstructivism. This style, also called DeCon architecture, is a development of postmodern architecture characterized by ideas of fragmentation by manipulating the surfaces. Gehry designed tens of buildings all over the world and currently another 23 projects are in construction or on hold. Some of his most prominent works include: The Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, The Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Der Neue Zollhof in Düsseldorf and the Marqués de Riscal Vineyard Hotel in Elciego.

Ieoh Ming Pei (b. 26 April 1917)

Pei was born in China and at the age of 17 he came in United States of America to study architecture. 76 years later, he is deservingly called one of the greatest masters of modern architecture. He is well-known for his large, abstract geometrical forms and for incorporating the traditional Chinese style in his work. Pei started his career in 1950 with the design of quite a regular corporate building in Atlanta, Georgia. After establishing his own company, in 1955 he focused on urban projects such as the Kips Bay Towers in Manhattan, New York City or the Society Hill Towers. Pei’s most popular works are: The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston, The National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C., Le Grand Louvre (The Pyramid) in Paris, The Bank of China Tower in Hong Kong and the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha.

Oscar Niemeyer (b. December 15, 1907)

Oscar Ribeiro de Almeida Niemeyer Soares Filho is considered to be a pioneer in creating new possibilities for using the reinforced concrete just for aesthetical reasons. He started with designing the first state-sponsored skyscraper in the world, for the Brazilian government. He was part of the international team that designed the UN headquarters in New York and his conceptual plan was the main source of inspiration for the constructors. His membership in the Brazilian Communist Party limited his chances of working in the United States and got him exiled up until 1985. By the time the exile ended, he designed the main administration buildings in Brasilia, the country’s new capital city.After returning to his home-country, Niemeyer continued to design impressive structures around Brazil such as: Niterói Contemporary Art Museum, the Catedral Militar Igreja de N. S. da Paz, the Memorial dos Povos Indigenas and many others. At his age (103), he continues to work at his office in Rio de Janiero.

Antoni Gaudí (25 June 1852 – 10 June 1926)

Antoni Plàcid Guillem Gaudí i Cornet was a Catalan architect that although worked during the Art Nouveau times, several other influences can be noticed in his works. The Gaudi’s signature city is Barcelona, but his early works include several other projects around Spain. As a devoted Catholic, he designed a structure that will become one of the most populous churches in the world – Sagrada Familia. He designed it to have 18 towers – 12 for the 12 apostles, 4 for the 4 evangelists, one for Mary and one for Jesus. The work on Sagrada Familia commenced in 1882 and is expected to be completed in 2026. Park Güel is one more of his works and another landmark in Barcelona. It is considered a municipal garden and the entrance is free. The park features a terrace and a long bench in the form of a sea serpent, roadways with built in bird nests and colonnaded footpaths and many more. Other brilliant works of Gaudi include Casa Cavalet, Casa Vicens, Casa Batlló and Casa Millà.

Frank Lloyd Wright (June 8, 1867 – April 9, 1959)

Frank Lloyd Wright’s organic architecture gave us timeless works of art, such as masterpiece The Guggenheim Museum in New York, Fallingwater Residence in Mill Run, Arizona State University Gammage Auditorium, Johnson Wax Headquarters, The Frederick C. Robie House in Chicago, Taliesin in Spring Green Wisconsin, etc. Some experts consider him the greatest architect ever; his natural forms seem to blend with nature.Wright was also responsible for the innovative design of the Guggenheim Museum in New York City, which features a rising spiral walkway rather than individual floors.


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