From buildings to bridges to awe-inspiring private homes, professional architecture is part of the fabric of American society. Long after individual architects are gone, their work lives on for millions to enjoy. Fortunately, many of the most noteworthy American architects are still living and can relish in the thought that they have created both beautiful and practical structures.
With apologies and respect to many other extremely talented architects not included on this list, here are five of America’s greatest living architects:
Now 85 years old and based in Chicago, Stanley Tigerman received a Lifetime Achievement Award in October 2015 from the American Institute of Architects. He is known for his blunt personality and his participation in the ‘Chicago Seven,’ who protested the predominance of modernism in architecture. Lesser known by many, he has a nurturing and socially-minded side, as evidenced by his design of the Pacific Garden Mission and the Illinois Holocaust Museum.
Los Angeles architect Thom Mayne is revered in the world of academia for teaching at some of the world’s most prestigious architectural schools. These include the Bartlett School of Architecture in London, Columbia University, Harvard University, and Yale University. He currently teaches at UCLA School of Arts and Architecture where he is fully tenured.
As the principal architect for the Santa Monica company Morphosis, some of his most well-known projects include the New Academic Building in New York City, the Wayne L. Morse U.S. Courthouse in Oregon, and the Sun Tower in Seoul, South Korea.
This San Diego architect is unique in that he builds every project himself and he doesn’t wait until he has clients to do so. He has changed the appearance and livability of the downtown San Diego area by creating unique, efficient buildings with extraordinary attention to detail. His building, the North Parker, won a 2015 AIA Housing Award in the multifamily housing category.
Jonathan Segal started his own company to teach other architects how to affect their surroundings in a positive way through design-based development.
Born in Canada in 1929, Frank Gehry emigrated to the United States with his family at age 18 and has remained in the Los Angeles area ever since. Several years ago, Vanity Fair magazine stated that Gehry is the most influential architect of the modern age. Indeed, his innovative and distinctive architecture draws people from all over the world as he is known for his ability to manipulate surfaces and form.
Some of Gehry’s most popular projects include the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, the Marques de Riscal Vineyard Hotel in Elciego, the Der Neue Zollhof in Dusseldorf, and the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles.
For more than 40 years, James Polshek served as the Principal Design Partner for Ennead Architects. He currently oversees the firm he created as part of its Design Council and remains active in numerous projects. From 1972 to 1987, Polshek was the dean of the Graduate School at Columbia University.
In addition to receiving three honorary degrees from the college, the American Institute of Architects has bestowed its Gold Medal Award of Honor on him. Two of his most well-known projects include the Rose Center for Earth and Space and the William Jefferson Clinton Presidential Center.
Following in the footsteps of such extraordinary creative minds such as the ones listed above, it will be exciting to see what the next generation of American architects will contribute in the years ahead.