I recently conducted a survey to find out the answer to these questions – Who is the most over-rated Architect? and Which Architect deserves more credit? Here are my results
I was interested to find out the opinion from many professionals in the industry as to who they thought was the most over-rated Architect. It was fairly obvious to me that the winner would have to be someone well-known in the industry, but who? Also of interest to me, was to find out from the people I follow, who they thought deserved more credit and recognition. There are so many Architects that do amazing work, but the spotlight rarely ever shines on those that deserve it most. I felt by running a survey we could ask who people really feel deserves more credit, instead of hearing and reading about the same Architect’s over and over.
I began the survey on July 12th and ran it for a little under 2 months to ensure I got a good data set – 300 were surveys completed – thanks to the help of my awesome Archi-Ninja readers and twitter followers : )
Here were the survey questions asked:
Here are the results of the survey:
FJMT is one of Australia’s most awarded firms. One criticised project is their “monster” security building for ASIO, as described by Romaldo Giurgola. The building is said to ruin sight lines to Australia’s Parliament House and Lake Burley Griffin.
A Swiss-French architect, Le Corbusier is a pioneer of Modern Architecture. Since his death, some of his urban design works have been criticised for being destructive and wasteful. Le Corbusier is one of the most studied Architects by Architectural students – Being top of mind isn’t always a good thing (it can get you stuck on lists like this!)
A Spanish architect with his primary office in Switzerland, Calatrava is now considered to be among the Architectural “elite”. Caltrava’s work in Bilbao was criticised for being impractical, with a lack of facilities, including a bridge with glass tiles which are prone to break and get slippery under local weather. His bridge in Venice had it’s opening ceremony cancelled with many considering the project unsuitable and a waste of money.
A Danish Architect, Bjarke Ingels takes a playful and practical approach to architecture with his works. Perhaps this approach in itself is why B.I.G. is most criticised – using a comic to explain the behind-the-scenes of Architecture may not have been appreciated by the “old school”. Bjarke Ingels is a strange inclusion in the Top 10 most over-rated architects as he also features in the list of architect’s who deserve more recognition. Perhaps as his firm gains more traction and more attention, so will the group of critics and starchitect-haters in criticising his works. Bjarke Ingels also worked for OMA for a short while, and perhaps many can see elements of his works that could give him an unfortunate starchitect resemblance.
Eisenman, an American architect, is part of an eclectic group of Architects known as deconstructivists, with his work often criticised for self-promotion. Eisenmen’s Cidade da Cultura de Galicia is one of his more criticised works, described as being “Too expensive, too big, and too short on content.” by Die Süddeutsche Zeitung‘s Merten Worthmann.
An English architect, Foster is the UK’s most prolific builder of landmark buildings. The “Gherkin” (formally known as Swiss Re) one of Foster’s most controversial projects, was erected (pardon the pun) in London, discarding the possibility of restoring a historic building damaged by the I.R.A. which was previously on the site.
REM Koolhaas, another starchitect, . His CCTV Building in Beijing has been heavily criticised, slammed by William Drenttell from Design Observer, really hitting home with this line “Building a project of this scale with so much extra steel to support an aesthetic expression seems like a missed opportunity, if not something completely bordering on civic negligence”. Zaha Hadid had a stint working under Koolhaas in the 70’s, becoming a partner of OMA in 1977.
Daniel Libeskind is an American architect of Polish-Jewish descent. Some of Libeskind’s most well-known works include the Jewish Museum in Berlin, The Denver Art Museum in the US, and the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. Libeskind has received mounds of media attention, winning the design competition for the the reconstruction project being built on the World Trade Center site.
Many professionals in the industry are critics of Libeskind’s work, with a strong opinion that his buildings don’t take in to account sustainability or the concept of place, and that he is more focused on his brand than the buildings he designs.
3 of Libeskind’s criticised works include:
Super Colossal noted a funny on their blog – Libeskind is often described as a “world renowned architect” and they noticed that the search function on Libeskind’s site finds the words “world renowned architect” over 6,800 times throughout his site. Perhaps its not a coincidence that he is described that way.
Frank Gehry is a Canadian Architect based in L.A. Gehry’s works include the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Wiestman Art Museum in Minneapolis, and his private residence in Santa Monica, California.
Gehry’s work is criticised by many to be the work of a “starchitect”, with the badge of distinction that it’s a Gehry building gaining attention for the project, more-so than the form and function of the building. The real question is whether Gehry is actually a great architect, or just a popular one.
3 of Gehry’s criticised works include:
Gehry’s work is often criticised with claims that they’re a waste of resources, and have functionless designs, often with very little consideration for place and lacking core sustainability and affordability principles.
Zaha Hadid was born in 1950 in Bagdhah, Iraq. Hadid won the Pritzker Architecture Prize in 2004, instantly shooting her to fame. Some of Zaha’s most well-known projects include Vitra Fire Station, the Lfone Pavilion in Weil am Rhein, Germany, and the Mind Zone at the Millenium Dome in London.
The Oxford College Extension Proposal was denied from being built as there were heat concerns; a prime example of a project that doesn’t respond to site and context. Zaha is criticised for the banality of her works, repeating the same design methods with each project, and completely disregarding community and place. In a recent debate, she was even likened to Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe – ouch!
3 of Hadid’s criticised works include:
One of my favourite architects, Andrew and AMA produce fun and well-designed projects, that deserve to be noticed on a broader scale. One of Andrew’s most favourite projects, CV08 – the “Suburb-eating Robot” gained a lot of traction across popular blogs including ArchDaily and Inhabitat. Read my Interview with Andrew Maynard.
A contemporary Portuguese Architect, Viera was awarded the Pritzker prize in 1992 for a commercial renovation project he completed in Chiado, Lisbon, an area completely destroyed by fire in August, 1998. He recently completed the Ibere Camargo Museum.
A dutch architectural practice specialising in infrastructural projects. “UN” stands for “United Network” which is reflective of the collaborative nature of UNStudio, a firm made up of individuals with varying backgrounds and experiences from around the world. One of their most recognised projects is the Theatre Agora, in the Netherlands.
Based in Japan, Shigeru Ban is quickly getting noticed for his work, most notably his work with recycled paper and cardboard used to house disaster victims. One of Ban’s most famous works is the Nomadic Museum, a temporary structure composed of 156 shipping containers.
Italian Architect Renzo Piano has already been acknowledged as a recipient of the Pritzker Architecture Prize. One of his most famous early projects was the joint project he did with Richard Rogers, the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris in 1977. Piano also gained a lot of attention for his extension at the Art Institute of Chicago the United States second largest museum.
The work by Architect David Chipperfield is characterised by careful structural simplicity, working on projects from furniture commissions to urban planning projects. Some of Chipperfield’s more recent works include the Anchorage Museum of History & Art, Alaska and the Ansalado City of Cultures in Milan.
Born 1974 in Copenhagen, Denmark, his firm Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) was founded just 3 years ago in 2006. His projects playful and practical in their approach. In 1998 he won his first competition as a 3rd year student, later going on to work for Rem Koolhaas for the next 3 years.
3 of Ingel’s popular works include:
As a young Architect, Bjarke Ingels has achieved great success, notably due to the fact he is able to combine experimentation, social responsibility and hard-headed intelligence to his works.
Watch the very inspiring Bjarke Ingels talk at TED.
Peter Zumthor is a Swiss architect and is definitely “hot stuff” right now in the Architecture world, winning the 2009 Pritzker Prize. Zumthor has a motivation to design buildings that express emotion and possess presence and personality.
3 of Zumthor’s popular works include:
Interestingly, a majority of Zumthor’s works aren’t published because he feels that Architecture should be experienced first-hand.
Born in 1941, Toyo Ito is a Japanese Architect who is largely known for his extremely creative and conceptual Architectural works. His works express and manage to represent both the physical and virtual worlds.
Early in his career, two projects which gained significant attention for Ito include White U completed in 1976, and Silver Hut in 1984. Ito’s Yatsushiro Municipal Museum won the 33rd Mainichi Art Award in 1992. The recent Serpentine Gallery Pavilion has received considerable attention.
3 of Ito’s popular works include:
Now over to you…
Share your thoughts in the comments below!