Top Architects & Their Designs

Zaha Hadid, Richard Rogers, Norman Foster...

This isn't meant to be a definitive list but merely a selection of those whose designs are unique or have inspired others. We have tried to include a diverse range of experts with examples from across the field. Architects listed here aren't listed in order of superiority and you can be sure that more will be added.

Seagram Building, New York by Mies Van Der Rohe

Mies Van Der Rohe

German architect Mies Van der Rohe is known for his minimalist designs which evoked rationalism and efficiency while being beautiful nonetheless. One of his prime examples is the Barcelona Pavilion which housed Germany's exhibit at the 1929 EXPO in Barcelona. Another, and rather different, example is Seagram Building in New York.

Mies is also known as the last director of the Bauhaus and referred to his buildings as 'skin and bones' architecture and is often the name most associated with the phrases 'less is more' and 'God is in the detail'.

Seagram Building (pictured) was controversial at the time and the design took a while to win the backing of its financiers. It was an early example of 'fast-track' construction techniques as the design and construction took place concurrently.

Richard Rogers

His masterpiece remains one of the most famous buildings in the world as well as being one of the most controversial. The Pompidou Center (pictured) opened in 1977 and is Paris's home for Modern and contemporary art. Described as being an inside out building with its heating and plumbing systems prominent on the exterior.

As well as his Paris masterpiece, he is also known for the Lloyd's Building and the Millennium Dome in London and the European Court of Human Rights building in Strasbourg. London's Heathrow Terminal 5, New York's new Three World Trade Center and One Hyde Park are also new buildings with Rogers' name on them.

Pompidou Center, Paris by Richard Rogers
Vitra Fire Station by Zaha Hadid

Zaha Hadid

Iraqi-British architect, Zaha, is a heavyweight in the design field and easily the most prominent female architect of the modern era. The list of buildings she designed is extensive and includes Beijing's Daxing Airport (finished after her death), MAXXI Museum in Rome, Guangzhou Opera House, Vitra Fire Station in Germany (pictured) and the Al Wakrah Stadium in Qatar.

She became the first woman to win the Pritzker Architecture Prize in 2004 and was made a Dame by Queen Elizabeth II in 2016 shortly before her death.

Frank Gehry

Frank Gehry is often considered to be the most famous architect in the world at present mostly because of the Guggenheim Museum (pictured below) in Bilbao though he is well known for so much more. The Guggenheim defies gravity and conventional logic while also being a standout piece of architecture which revitalised the main city of the Basque Country. 

Besides the Bilbao Guggenheim, Gehry is the name behind a huge list of other impressive constructions including Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, Museum of Pop Culture in Seattle, Dancing House in Prague and the Louis Vuitton Foundation in Paris.

His work has often been described as 'unfinished' and crude finishes would be an apt adjective for many of his finest designs. Pretty much all of the examples of his works impress those who see them.

Guggenheim, Bilbao by Frank Gehry

Norman Foster

Norman's early career was working as an associate of Buckminster Fuller who is noted as the inventor of the geodesic dome. Since then, Norman Foster's designs have often featured such treatments as part of their facade. One of the most recognisable examples is 30 St Mary Axe (pictured, commonly referred to as the Gherkin) which opened in 2004 and copycats of it have emerged throughout the world. The way this design clashes with nearby medieval buildings has raised eyebrows in London.

Awards that Foster has won are nearly as impressive as the projects he has put his name to. He has won the Stirling Prize, Pritzker Architecture Prize and the AIA Gold Medal to name just a few. Other outstanding examples of his work include the new Reichstag Building in Berlin, Wembley Stadium in London and Apple Park in Cupertino. Norman Foster values youth in his teams and has expressed pride in the fact that the average age of those working for Foster and Partners is 32 years old.

30 St Mary Axe (The Gherkin), London, by Norman Foster
Serpentine Gallery Pavilion by Bjarke Ingels

Bjarke Ingels

Examples of this young Danish architect's designs range from Two World Trade Center in New York to the Google campus in California. Designs both large and small form part of his resume and the Serpentine Gallery Pavilion (pictured) is an example of his smaller examples of his talent.

Having studied at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, Bjarke's early works were in his native Denmark but much of his latter work has been in the United States. He was named as one of the 100 Most Influential People by Time Magazine in 2016.

Kengo Kuma

Kuma's work is widely praised for reinterpreting traditional Japanese architecture and typical materials in a contemporary fashion. Kuma won the competition to design the new National Stadium (pictured below) which is the centrepiece of the 2020 Olympics due to be held in Tokyo in 2021. He is also the name behind smaller designs including a garden in Portland and a civic centre in Sydney.

Unlike some modern day architects, Kengo Kuma insists on respect for the surroundings of buildings rather than domination which is seen by other projects. He also seeks to 'recover the place' and ensure that designs fully respect nature and time and adequately connect spaces.

National Stadium, Tokyo by Kengo Kuma