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10 Famous US Architects Who Have Made A Difference

What makes one building different from the next? After all, they’re all made of the same basic elements – brick, stone, cement, metal, and glass. Innovative architects incorporate brilliant design and ingenious innovation to create iconic buildings that reflect the past, present, and future.

The Egyptian Pyramids and the Taj Mahal in India are two of the best known architectural wonders of the world. In modern times, One World Trade Center in New York City, Willis Tower in Chicago, and the Wilshire Grand Center in Los Angeles are just three of the many distinctive office buildings in the U.S.

The United States is home to literally dozens of men and women who have created – and still are creating – some of the most iconic buildings around the country and the world. Here are 10 of the most famous U.S. architects who have made a difference in the world that we live in today.

Frank Lloyd Wright

Born in 1867, Frank Lloyd Wright is widely credited for revolutionizing architecture and interior design in America. His cutting-edge creations harmonized humanity with nature and gave birth to the ‘Prairie Style’ residential design. Wright is credited for over 1,500 works and countless types of buildings including offices, museums, hotels, churches, and skyscrapers. Major works by Frank Lloyd Wright include the Fallingwater residence in Pennsylvania and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum on 5th Avenue in Carnegie Hill, Manhattan, N.Y.

I.M. Pei

Born in 1917 in Suzhou, China, I.M. Pei immigrated to the U.S. at the age of 17. Known as the ‘Master of Modern Architecture’, Pei is known for incorporating glass into cubist, geometric designs to create some of the most unique buildings in the U.S. Some of the most memorable projects designed by I.M. Pei are the JFK Library in Dorchester, Boston and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Downtown Cleveland.

Frank Gehry

Born in 1929 in Toronto, Frank Gehry immigrated to the U.S. in 1947 and is now based in Los Angeles. Gehry’s designs combine unconventional fabrications with modern, bold shapes. Two of Gehry’s major works are the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Downtown Los Angeles and the New York by Gehry at 8 Spruce Street in New York City’s Financial District.

Philip Johnson

Born in 1906 in Cleveland, Philip Johnson is known for his postmodern architecture. Using a fusion of art, minimalism, and functional aesthetics he is credited for returning wit, ornament and reference to architecture. Often called the ‘best openly-gay architect in America’, Johnson’s major works include the Seagram Building on Park Avenue in Central Midtown, Manhattan, and his personal residence, Glass House, in New Canaan, Ct.

Louis Sullivan

Born in 1856 in Boston, Louis Sullivan is referred to as the ‘Father of Skyscrapers’. While emphasizing height, Sullivan believed in the credo that ‘form ever follows function’ and always kept the purpose of his buildings in mind. Louis Sullivan designed the 10-story Wainwright Building in Downtown St. Louis, Mo., – one of the earliest skyscrapers in the world – and the Carson, Pirie, Scott and Company Building – currently the Sullivan Center, in Chicago.

Daniel Burnham

Born in 1846 in New York City, Daniel Burnham designed and planned some of the most famous buildings and important cities in the U.S. Burnham’s major works include the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago and the Flatiron Building in New York City. After the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, Daniel Burnham and his business partner redesigned the entire City of Chicago from the ground up, including 165 private homes and 75 public and private buildings.

Buckminster Fuller

Born in 1895 in Massachusetts, Buckminster Fuller incorporated the geodesic dome into many of his architectural designs used in civic buildings, military radar installations, and exhibition attractions. Fuller viewed himself not only as an architect, but as a ‘comprehensive anticipatory design scientist’, with the mission of solving problems around the globe.

Daniel Libeskind

Born in 1946 in Poland, Daniel Libeskind immigrated to the U.S. in 1959. Believing that “cities are the greatest creations of humanity”, Libeskind and his wife Nina founded Studio Daniel Libeskind in 1989. Major works by Libeskind and his firm include the master plan for the World Trade Center, Crystals at CityCenter in Las Vegas, and The Ascent at Roebling’s Bridge in Covington, Ky.

David Childs

Born in 1941 in New Jersey, David Childs is chairman emeritus of the architectural firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. Best known as the architect for One World Trade Center, Childs and his firm have designed numerous projects including the U.S. News and World Report headquarters in Washington, D.C., and 7 World Trade Center and the Time Warner Center in New York City.

Jeanne Gang

Born in 1964 in Illinois, Jeanne Gang is the founder of Studio Gang, an architectural and design firm with offices in New York, Chicago, and San Francisco. Gang’s numerous architectural works include the mixed-use Aqua Tower in Chicago, the California College of the Arts in San Francisco, and the soon-to-be-completed 40 Tenth Avenue office building adjacent to the High Line in Chelsea, Manhattan.


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