Zaha Hadid

Click here to see Opera House, Guangzhou

Louise Blanchard Bethune

Click here to see Hotel Lafayette, Buffalo NY

Antoni Gaudí

Click here to see Casa Batlló, Barcelona

Louis Henry Sullivan

Click here to see Guaranty Building, Buffalo NY

Frank Lloyd Wright

Click here to see Guggenheim Museum, NY

I. M. Pei

Click here to see China Bank, Hong Kong


Click here to see St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican City

Mimar Sinan

Click here to see Hagia Sofia and Sultanahmet Mosque, Istanbul, Turkey


2650-2600 BC
Click here to see Pyramid of Djoser, Egypt

Iconic Architects

Scroll down to learn about nine icons from the architectural world...

Her work is revolutionary, alien and often overwhelming: pushing the boundaries of architecture so hard that some of her more imposing works have the power to instil a sense of dread.

She herself became an icon in the world of architecture, a formidable character, swelling with clout and controversy. She was not without critics, but without doubt she left a mark on the planet and established a style that will echo long into the future.

Hadid was the first woman in history to receive the Pritzker Architecture Prize and the first woman to be awarded the Royal Gold Medal from RIBA. Hadid also won the Stirling Prize three times.

She was the first known professional female architect in the USA, blazing the trail for women in architecture. By the time of her death, there were 50 known female architects working professionally in the United States.

Her work was considerate and in keeping with the styles and trends of the time. The Hotel Lafayette in Buffalo, NY is her best-known work and the last structure of her design that remains standing today. It's a classically beautiful building; ornate but never in danger of being considered vulgar.

Bethune was a forward thinker, the force behind one of the first buildings in the USA to employ a steel frame and moulded concrete block construction.

Gaudí may be the most interesting and unique architect in modern history. His work was hugely underappreciated in his own time but found loyal fans later in the 20th century, decades after his death.

Gaudí was staunchly religious and believed that God's work in nature was the pinnacle of design: unbeatable and perfect. His work sought to emulate the natural world, giving his buildings a flowing and organic look, a beauty borrowed from plants and animals.

His buildings are extremely unusual but equally wonderful, each a tourist attraction in its own right. Even at their grandest, Gaudí's buildings feel harmoniously woven into the land, a part of the nature they were built to celebrate.

The father of the skyscraper came into his trade during an engineering revolution, when mass-produced steel became widespread. Before the incorporation of steel into building design, structures were limited by the weight that their walls could bear.

Buildings with steel frameworks eliminated this problem, allowing masonry and glass to be hung from the frame. Impossibly tall structures gave enormous workable floor space over a comparably tiny footprint.

Sullivan wasn't the first architect to build with steel frames, but his design principles gave him a signature style that his understudies (including a young Frank Lloyd Wright) would forever associate with him: the use of ornament and massive semi-circular arches.

"Form follows function" - the phrase coined by Sullivan - has become one of the most important mantras ever written in architecture (and indeed all design).

Although his work was stylistically distant from that of Antoni Gaudí, Frank Lloyd Wright's approach to building structures came from a similar genesis point: what he called "organic architecture", designing in harmony with the environment and humankind.

Wright is considered the father of modern architecture and was responsible for some of the most recognisable structures in modern history. He was another great architect to take his cues from nature. Massively influential as well as prolific, Wright designed over a thousand structures in his life.

He wasn't just famous for his buildings, teachings and philosophies. Famously arrogant and larger than life, his private affairs became public knowledge, putting his career at risk on several occasions - but he left behind a truly great legacy in his work.

Ieoh Ming Pei moved to America from China when he was just 17 years old, and he discovered a very different academic atmosphere there. Filled with doubt at university, he very nearly abandoned architecture in favour of engineering, chopping and changing schools and courses.

While Pei found himself inspired by Le Corbusier and Frank Lloyd Wright, he became fascinated with the new International style and forged a path away from traditional designs.

This can be seen throughout his work. Even his earliest buildings are starkly angular and striking. His cubist, modernist approach has earned him significant admiration and accolades.

While he'll forever be remembered for the statue of David and the iconic paintings on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, let it never be forgotten that Michelangelo was also a master architect.

His cultural impact can still be felt to this day in architecture, sculpture and art. He was one of the most influential and important human beings ever to have lived.

Michelangelo's best-known works changed the direction of Western art forever. His architectural works at sites like St. Peter's Basilica and Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri are an incredible insight into his genius vision and mastery of space and light.

Known as the master of the dome, Sinan is the Ottoman Empire's most celebrated architect, often being compared with Michelangelo in the West. Over 300 structures were of his design. Most of them were mosques and religious buildings, some of the grandest designs ever built.

His influence spanned the Ottoman Empire and reached even further still, through the land and through the ages. His students would go on to assist with the design of the Taj Mahal using his architectural concepts, creating one of the most instantly recognisable buildings in history.

All architecture is thought to have started with Imhotep.

Considered the very first architect in history, Imhotep was the mind behind some of the most iconic and mysterious structures ever built. He was a polymath blessed with mastery of several diverse disciplines, including philosophy and poetry, which elevated him to divine status.

He was not directly responsible for the Great Pyramid of Giza, which was built around a century after his time. However, the foundations he laid with his design of the Pyramid of Djoser would set off a race for ever grander, taller tombs to immortalise their leaders.

At the time, the Pyramid of Djoser was the tallest structure made of cut stone ever built and possibly the very first step pyramid in the world. It also features arguably the first use of stone columns as structural support.

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