Zaha Hadid

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.

Although she is a winner of numerous international contests, she had the misfortune of never seeing many of her projects built. Forbes ranked Hadid the 69th most powerful women in the world in 2008, while New Statesman ranked her the 42nd most influential figure on the planet in 2010.

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.

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Walter Burley Griffin

Walter Burley Griffin is an American architect and landscape architect that designed Canberra, Australia’s capital city. He developed the L-shaped floor plan and the carport and it was the first user of reinforced concrete.

In 1911 the Australian Government held an international competition to build the country’s new capital city. Griffin also participated in the contest and his plan was selected as a winner in the next year. World War I broke out in 1914, so the funds for the new capital were considerably diminished. Griffin confronted himself with slower progress of working than he expected.

The creation of a Federal Committee to supervise his work in 1920 made Griffin to resign from the project and completely withdraw from any further activity in Canberra. All of his buildings plans for Australia’s new capital were never built. Afterwards, he opened offices in Melbourne and Sydney. One of the first major projects after leaving Canberra was the Capitol Theatre in Melbourne.

In America, his work consisted of building family houses in the states of Illinois and Iowa. He also got the chance of designing Newman College at the University of Melbourne, Palais de Danse in St. Kilda (later destroyed by a fire) and Castlecrag, a suburb of Sydney.

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Santiago Calatrava

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.

Calatrava has less than two decades of designing amazing buildings, but he holds an impressive portfolio that will open more record-breaking opportunities in the future. He is currently designing the future station at World Trade Center Transportation Hub and it is planning numerous other projects.

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Le Corbusier

Charles-Édouard Janneret, known under the pseudonym Le Corbusier (French for “the raven-like one”), was not only an architect and a pioneer of the International Style, but also a designer, urbanist, writer and painter. He was one of the first in his branch that was concerned by the quality of life in big, crowded cities.

Le Corbusier started his five decade career with designing villas through the use of modern techniques. He designed Villa Savoye near Paris, a construction that is said to be a milestone for modern architecture. This was Le Corbusier’s idea of a machine a habiter (“a machine for living in”), a remarkable project that proved to be as beautiful and functional as a machine.

Le Corbusier thought that his austere and unornamented buildings will help to build cleaner and brighter cities in the future. This concept lead to two developments: The German Bauhaus style, concerned on the social aspects of designing buildings and America’s International Style – a symbol of the Capitalism, a prevailing style among the office builders and upper-class people. Le Corbusier’s major buildings include Unité d’Habitation in Marseille, The National Museum of Western Art in Tokyo, Chapelle Notre Dame du Haut in Ronchamp and The Centre Le Corbusier in Zürich.

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Alvar Aalto

Aalto was contemporary with the economic boom and with the industrialization of Finland, therefore many of his clients were major Scandinavian industrialists. No less than four architectural styles are reflected in his work he has done throughout the years, that is why in our times Aalto remains one of the most versatile architects of the world.

In the 1920s, Aalto was and adept of the Nordic Classicism style and he expressed himself through a series of single family houses. Functionalism is the second style he tried and his best work in this period is the library of Viipuri, in present called Vyborg, Russia. This structure is particularly famous for its wave-shaped ceiling in the main auditorium, while the exterior has a typical modernist structure.

His mid career was marked by experimentation, a time of redbrick buildings that started with the Baker House of the MIT and reached its apogee with the design of the Helsinki’s University of Technology. Monumentalism is unfortunately his last career stage. Two of his greatest projects are the Finlandia Hall in Helsinki and the Aalto Theater Opera House in Essen, completed after his death.

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Ieoh Ming Pei

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. He started to make a real difference with the Mesa Laboratory, located just outside Boulder, Colorado. The new laboratory fitted amazingly well in the local landscape and years later became an award-winning masterpiece due to its aesthetic features, its functionality and the durability in time.

His following projects included new buildings for some American universities, airport terminals, public libraries and even city halls. He soon started designing buildings all over the world for governments, international banks and prestigious cultural institutions.

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.

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Frank Gehry

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. Unlike the most styles in use, the main belief in DeCon is that forms do not follow function. Although many specialists are criticizing this type of buildings, they always manage to catch a passerby’s eye.

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.

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