The world of architecture is constantly evolving, with newcomer architects at the forefront of this transformation. Frida Escobedo, Yasmine Abbas, and others are leading newcomer architects experimenting with innovative materials and forms. They use cross-laminated timber (CLT) for its renewable qualities and lighter carbon footprint. Large-scale ceramic 3D printing allows them to create intricate architectural geometries. Smart glass facades in their designs adapt to real-time data and occupant preferences. Transparent wood offers a combination of traditional wood’s strength and glass-like transparency. These architects incorporate unique shapes, textures, and structural elements. They integrate freeform curves, creating organic, nature-inspired structures. Multi-layered facades manage sunlight and energy use. Recent buildings by these architects include the Rose Apartments in Venice, California, by Brooks & Scarpa, focusing on sustainable design. One Chicago, designed by Goettsch Partners, is a luxury residential complex in Chicago. The Al Seef Tower in Dubai, by Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates, features a distinctive sloped facade. Architects tackle these challenges by assembling skilled teams, creating detailed project schedules, focusing on owners’ goals, and developing relationships with officials.
1. Frida Escobedo
Frida Escobedo is an acclaimed Mexican architect known for her creative use of materials and cultural influences in her designs. She was born in 1979 in Mexico City, where she continues to live and work today. Escobedo studied architecture at the Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City, receiving her bachelor’s degree in 2003. She later attended Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design, completing a master’s in Art, Design and the Public Domain in 2012. Escobedo’s architecture reflects both modern and traditional Mexican influences. Her work often incorporates local materials like brick, concrete, and wood in innovative ways.
One of Escobedo’s greatest accomplishments was being selected to design the 2018 Serpentine Pavilion in London at age 39. This made her the youngest architect to receive the prestigious commission. The temporary structure was inspired by Mexican domestic architecture and ideas about time and the movement of light. Other important projects by Escobedo include La Tallera Siqueiros Cultural Center in Cuernavaca (2012), an extension of a gallery that was once the studio of muralist David Alfaro Siqueiros; the renovation of the 1950s Hotel Boca Chica in Acapulco (2010); and “Split Subject” (2013), an art installation made of concrete blocks in Mexico City.
In 2022, Escobedo was chosen to design the New Modern Wing of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. The project will be her largest public project and represents a major milestone for the architect. Throughout her career, Escobedo has won various architecture prizes while teaching at institutions like Columbia University, Harvard, and Rice University. She continues to take on projects of varying sizes in Mexico and abroad, working closely with artists, designers, and local communities. Escobedo is widely admired for her creative spirit and ability to imbue cultural meaning into contemporary buildings and spaces.
2. Yasmine Abbas
Yasmine Abbas is a French architect, researcher, and educator exploring how mobility and digital culture affect the practice of design and the experience of place. She was born in France and continues to live and work there, as well as in the United States where she is an assistant professor at the Pennsylvania State University. Abbas received her initial professional architecture degree from the ENSA Paris Val-de-Marne program in Paris in 1997. She then went on to obtain a Master of Science in Architecture Studies from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2001 through a scholarship from the Aga Khan Trust for Culture, and a Doctor of Design degree from the Harvard University Graduate School of Design in 2006.
Abbas represents an emerging style of architecture focused on designing for an increasingly mobile and digitally connected population. She employs creative approaches including generative mapping, cartography, and the computational design of ambiances to create what she calls “augmented placemaking.” Abbas is the author of the 2011 book Le Néo-nomadisme which examines issues of mobility, identity, and transformation in cities. She has exhibited internationally and her Agbogbloshie Makerspace Platform collaborative project received the Rockefeller Foundation’s Centennial Innovation Challenge Award in 2013.
Some of Abbas’ most notable accomplishments as an up-and-coming architect and researcher include receiving grants and teaching appointments at prestigious institutions like Penn State, being published widely in architecture journals and edited volumes, and having her work displayed at prominent events like the 2017 Seoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism. Her focus on human-centered design thinking addressing issues from neo-nomadism to sustainability points to her vital contributions to reimagining architecture’s role in dynamic 21st-century societies.
3. Kunlé Adeyemi
Kunlé Adeyemi is a prominent Nigerian architect, urbanist, and researcher born on April 7, 1976, in Kaduna, Nigeria. His father was a modernist architect, sparking Adeyemi’s early passion for architecture. As a teenager, he designed his first house for a family friend. Adeyemi studied architecture at the University of Lagos in Nigeria, graduating at the top of his class. He then earned a post-professional architecture degree from Princeton University in 2005. At Princeton, Adeyemi researched rapid urbanization in developing cities like Lagos with Professor Peter Eisenman. He has held visiting positions at institutions like Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, lecturing on architecture and urbanism. Before starting his firm NLÉ in 2010, Adeyemi worked for nearly a decade at the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) under Rem Koolhaas, leading designs for major projects worldwide.
Other notable NLÉ projects include a floating amphibious building in Port Harcourt, Nigeria, a public sculpture pavilion in Chicago, and a summer house at London’s Serpentine Gallery. Ongoing initiatives aim to impact communities through thoughtful architecture rooted in local needs positively. Adeyemi is considered one of the best newcomer architects for his groundbreaking innovation and social responsibility in work focused on the developing world. He pioneers new architectural approaches addressing major urban issues in rapidly growing cities. His floating building prototypes empower disadvantaged communities. Adeyemi receives international recognition for his meaningful impact.
4. Alejandra Caballero
Alejandra Caballero was born in 1979 in Mexico City, where she continues to live and work today at 44. As a child, Caballero was deeply inspired by the ancient architecture found across Mexico. She earned an undergraduate architecture degree from the prestigious Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) in Mexico City, graduating at the top of her class in 2003 at age 24. Caballero then moved to New Haven, Connecticut, in the United States to pursue a Master of Architecture at Yale University’s School of Architecture. After graduating from Yale in 2005, she returned home to Mexico City and gained experience working for prominent firms, including Alberto Kalach. In 2008, Caballero founded her firm, Caballero Arquitectos, to design sustainable buildings connecting to Mexico’s rich cultural heritage. Now based in Mexico City, Caballero continues leading her firm to national and international recognition for projects fusing modern and traditional architecture. She has become an award-winning architect and a leader of the Mexican sustainable building movement at just 44 years old.
Caballero is considered one of Mexico’s best up-and-coming architects. Her innovative approach combines ancient, vernacular architecture with contemporary needs and technologies. She is a pioneer in sustainable design using local and natural materials like adobe and bamboo. Caballero is recognized for her modern interpretations of Mesoamerican and Mexican architectural traditions seen through ancient sites, colonial buildings, and indigenous communities. Signature elements include curved vaults, patios, natural light and ventilation, locally sourced materials, and artisanal construction methods. Her unique style has been dubbed “eco-techno-vernacular,” representing a new vision of sustainable architecture grounded in history while meeting today’s needs. Caballero is celebrated for bringing global attention to Mexico’s rich building customs through her award-winning contemporary projects.
5. Oana Stănescu
Oana Stănescu is a prominent Romanian architect, designer, writer, and educator who lives between Berlin and New York. She was born in Romania and attended the Polytechnic University of Timișoara before embarking on her career by interning at known international firms like SANAA, OMA, and Herzog & de Meuron. Stănescu is considered one of the top newcomers in architecture for her fresh perspective pushing disciplinary boundaries. After working abroad, she co-founded the practice Family New York in 2009, gaining acclaim for conceptual proposals like the +POOL floating pool in New York. She now runs her studio, with important work, including transforming an industrial bridge in her hometown into a High Line-inspired public park.
Her diverse portfolio includes art installations with high-profile collaborators like Virgil Abloh and Kanye West, for whom she designed the set for his 2013-14 Yeezus tour. She has created spaces for brands such as Nike, SSENSE, and the New Museum, unifying her interdisciplinary outlook. Stănescu is also an educator at institutions like Harvard, MIT, and EPFL, advocating that architecture must address complex societal issues by working as part of a larger system.
Publications like the New York Times, Architectural Digest, and PIN-UP magazine have highlighted Stănescu as an innovative voice expanding architecture’s scope. She is fluent in three languages and brings a global perspective to her Romanian roots, embassy projects in Canada, and collaborations across Europe and North America. Stănescu embraces architecture’s ephemeral nature, pushing its potential to create vital communal spaces that bring people together. Her drive to keep evolving is summarized by her ethos to maintain curiosity, learn from history, and never be satisfied with the status quo.
6. Akshat Bhatt
Akshat Bhatt is considered one of the best newcomer architects due to his innovative and progressive approach to design. He was born in 1979 and graduated from the TVB School of Habitat Studies in 2002. He later studied at the University of East London. After working at architecture firms in London, he returned to India in 2007 to establish his practice, Architecture Discipline, which explores various design scales, including architecture, urban design, public art, furniture, and products. Bhatt is considered a leading next-generation architect because of his forward-thinking ideology that architecture should foster happiness and optimism while bringing value to people’s lives.
The India Pavilion he designed for the 2015 Hannover Messe trade fair was named the best pavilion and brought international attention to his work. Bhatt also won the JK Cements Young Architect of the Year Award in 2015. His portfolio includes projects like hotels, corporate offices, residences, and art installations. He is deeply rooted in Indian design, and his work has a contemporary global sensibility. Bhatt constantly refines his design process to reinvent spaces and experiences. This ability to innovate within architectural and sustainability frameworks makes him a pioneer.
7. Amanda Levete
Amanda Levete is regarded as one of the UK’s leading newcomer architects for her groundbreaking conceptual designs and innovative use of materials. Amanda Levete was born in 1955 in Bridgend, Wales, where she developed an early interest in the creative field. She later moved to London to study architecture, first at the Hammersmith College of Art and Building, then the prestigious Architectural Association School. Levete is acclaimed for an intuitive design approach that connects architecture with its physical and social context. The architect has helped raise women’s profile in the field, becoming an important role model. 2018, she was awarded the prestigious Jane Drew Prize, recognizing her commitment to design excellence.
Amanda Levete’s interest in creative disciplines led her to study fashion and graphic design in London before discovering architecture. Levete is considered a pioneer of new architectural paradigms for her conceptual approach that connects buildings with their surrounding environments. Amanda Levete’s most acclaimed achievement is the Victoria & Albert Museum Exhibition Road Quarter, completed in 2017, the V&A’s most significant expansion project in over 100 years. This iconic cultural complex includes a new underground gallery, courtyard, and entrance, transforming visitor access. With its gleaming porcelain tiles and world-first use of 3D-printed concrete, Levete’s design embodies her signature fluid style. The project pioneered an innovative architecture that weaves past and present – connecting the V&A’s rich history with its future. Equally important is Levete’s 2016 Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology (MAAT) in Lisbon, which earned international recognition. These museums helped cement Levete’s reputation for creating cultural spaces with groundbreaking designs that engage their contexts.
8. Pascale Sablan
Pascale Sablan was born in 1983 in Queens, New York, as the second oldest of 10 children in a Haitian American family. She was inspired by traveling in her youth and discovered architecture’s power to interpret cultures. Sablan earned her Bachelor of Architecture degree from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn in 2005, followed by a Master of Science in Advanced Architectural Design from Columbia University in 2007. Now 39 years old, Sablan is based in New York City, where she leads her activist organization. She is an Associate Principal at Adjaye Associates and has risen to be globally known for advancing equity through architecture. Pascale Sablan is an acclaimed architect recognized as a leading advocate for diversifying and bringing equity to the field.
As the 315th registered Black woman architect in the U.S., she founded Beyond the Built Environment to spotlight marginalized designers through exhibitions, lectures, and a digital library. Her activism also earned prestigious awards like the 2021 AIA Whitney M. Young Jr. Award. Sablan is acclaimed for her conceptual, community-centered approach across cultural and residential projects. Her decade-plus career includes work in the Bronx Point development and with renowned firms like Adjaye Associates. She is considered a groundbreaking voice guiding architecture to serve society better.
Pascale’s architectural accomplishment is becoming a recognized leader in diversifying architecture through her advocacy initiatives. Sablan founded Beyond the BuiSablan’s Sonment in 2017 to empower marginalized desSablan and communities. Its programming, like the SAY IT LOSablan’s series, has brought unprecedented visibility to this group. Sablan co-designed the Universal Hip Hop Museum as part of the Bronx Point development, which is set to open in 2024.
9. Koray Duman
Koray Duman was born in Turkey and first studied architecture in Ankara, where the teaching emphasized modernism and discouraged formal experimentation. He later worked for five years as the lead architect on several West Coast museum projects at the Los Angeles firm Frederick Fisher and Partners. Koray Duman is considered one of the top new architects due to his creative and adaptive approach to design. After graduating, he worked at the famous Frederick Fisher and Partners firm, gaining experience on major cultural projects. He founded his studio, Büro Koray Duman, in New York City in 2013, quickly becoming the go-to architect for many galleries in the Lower East Side neighborhood. He incorporates these features to create unique spaces suited to each client. His flexibility and ability to realize even unorthodox ideas set him apart. Through word-of-mouth referrals, his clientele grew to include significant galleries like Mendes Wood DM and artists like Miranda Fengyuan Zhang.
Some of Duman’s important architectural projects include the recent expansion of Mendes Wood DM gallery in Brazil, the Miranda Fengyuan Zhang studio/residence in upstate New York, and many noted Lower East Side galleries like Madey Contemporary, Arsenal Contemporary, and the On Stellar Rays Foundation Project Space. Duman co-organized a series of programs providing architectural toolkits for small organization spaces. His creative repurposing of existing spaces is his signature, but he also contributed to developing best practices for galleries and non-profits. He has established himself as an important emerging architectural voice through high-profile commissions and advocacy.
10. Satoshi Teshima
Satoshi Teshima is considered one of the top new architects due to his over 20 years of experience designing innovative civic, healthcare, education, and commercial projects. He has won multiple awards for his student life and academic designs. Teshima is acclaimed for his focus on creating thoughtful spaces that unite communities and serve user needs. In October 2022, the prominent Los Angeles firm AC Martin appointed Teshima as Design Principal. This demonstrates the high regard for his talents in the architecture community.
He leads design across AC Martin’s entire portfolio, including a new mixed-use complex in Bangkok. Teshima’s blend of creative vision and technical expertise has established him as a premier architect shaping the future of the built environment.
He has internationally designed innovative and award-winning academic, commercial, healthcare, and civic projects. Teshima is considered a standout talent for his focus on creating engaging spaces that thoughtfully serve communities. He strives to design environments tailored to user needs, bringing people together. This drive to uplift through thoughtful and functional design is a hallmark of his work across sectors. His appointment as Design Principal at the prestigious AC Martin firm also demonstrates the architecture industry’s high regard for the industry’s vision. Teshima now leads design across AC Martin’s entire portfolio.
What materials and forms are the best newcomer architects experimenting with in their designs?
Listed below are the materials and forms newcomer architects experiment with their designs:
- Cross-laminated timber (CLT): The newcomer architects are pioneering using CLT panels by layering wood boards at perpendicular angles and then gluing them under pressure. This forms resilient prefabricated structural elements for walls, floors, and roofs. Compared to concrete or steel, CLT is renewable, has a lighter carbon footprint, and creates soft, organic architectural forms. They are also stacking and cantilevering CLT elements in ways impossible with conventional materials.
- Ceramic 3D printing: Leading newcomer firms leverage large-scale ceramic 3D printers to construct building shells directly with deeply contoured, intricate architectural geometry. This enables newcomers to create highly expressive, seamless ceramic building skins with unprecedented freedom of form.
- Adaptive smart glass facades: Newcomer architects outfit towers with sophisticated smart glass curtain walls that modify their opacity, color, and thermal conduction in response to real-time data and occupant preferences. Photosensors and user controls enable tuning glass performance to prevailing conditions – maximizing daylight when wanted, minimizing heat gain, altering appearance, and ensuring privacy.
- Transparent wood: Newcomer architects have produced prototype panels of transparent wood by removing lignin and dark components while retaining the wood’s cellular structure. This new material combines strength and workability reminiscent of traditional wood and a striking see-through quality akin to glass.
- Synthetic spider silk: Newcomers architects are inspired by natural spider silk’s unmatched strength and elasticity, and have produced recombinant silk using transgenic organisms to spin synthetic copies. Newcomers are deploying these silks, tougher than steel, and cabling systems integrated across buildings to enable new modes of inhabitance.
- Bio-geopolymer cement: Newcomer architects formulate cement that uses microbiological processes to solidify inorganic mineral compounds and silicon into binding building blocks for concrete-like laying and masonry. Their compositions also shrink the carbon emissions associated with conventional concrete. Newcomers refine bio-geopolymer recipes towards limestone-free, living architecture.
What kind of shapes, textures, and structural elements are the newcomer architects incorporating?
Listed below are the kinds of shapes, textures, and structural elements that newcomer architects incorporate:
- Freeform curves: Newcomer architects integrate sweeping freeform curves throughout their designs to create more organic and nature-inspired structures. Instead of rigid straight lines and sharp angles, they use materials like molded concrete, 3D-printed components, and flexible wood panels to achieve smooth, pebble-like shapes with wrapping, and asymmetric silhouettes.
- Multi-layered facades: Leading newcomer firms are developing complex multi-layered building enclosures designed to manage sunlight, ventilation, and energy use. These facades incorporate an array of fins, louvers, shutters, and shading devices arrayed in front at various angles, depths, and widths to respond to solar orientation.
- Snake-like structures: Avant-garde newcomers architects create elongated, curvilinear designs articulated like sinuous snakes winding through sites, including frames with repetitive cyclic geometry. They integrate winding ramps, oval profiles, helical stairs, and snaking interior walkways under billowing roofs to echo flowing, bio-inspired forms in nature like twisting vines, shells, and membranes.
- Cellular cascades: Experimental newcomers architects model flowing cellular patterns reminiscent of porous foams and sponges with ribs, crenels, and incongruous collisions between cells. Cascading, hive-like assemblies tumble through buildings in lattice-shelled geometries. The cellular fields flow across walls and roofs in aggregations that diffuse sunlight and frame panoramic views.
- Synthetic microlattices: Newcomers architects are incorporating microlattices with atomic-scale porous networks that create the lightest solids ever made. Densities like aerogel but indestructible strength, hierarchical lattices with nanoscale features act like micro-trusses stacked across centimeter scales as ultra-strong, ultralight panels.
- Translucent concrete: Novel newcomer designs incorporate thin translucent concrete panels cured with embedded light-diffusing optical glass fibers. These sandwich discrete transparent layers between stronger aggregate concrete, transmitting soft ambient light while obscuring clear views.
What buildings have the best newcomer architects completed recently?
Several buildings have the best newcomer architects completed recently. Firstly, the Rose Apartments in Venice, California designed by Brooks & Scarpa is a notable affordable housing project featuring sustainable design. Completed in 2022, the 4-story, 35-unit mixed-use development aims to provide quality housing in the car-oriented Los Angeles area. The project utilizes passive design strategies for energy efficiency, such as operable windows, solar panels, and thermal mass concrete floors. Secondly, One Chicago, a luxury residential and mixed-use complex in Chicago, Illinois, won a 2023 International Architecture Award. It was designed by Goettsch Partners, the project comprises a 47-story tower and an 11-story midrise building, integrating over 800 residential units with retail and amenities. Lastly, the firm Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates designed the 42-story Al Seef Tower in Dubai, UAE, which was completed in 2022. The curved glass office building’s distinctive sloped facade was inspired by the traditional Arab wind towers. It is located along the Dubai Creek, Al Seef Tower houses commercial office space with ground floor retail. The tower utilizes energy-saving strategies including high-performance glazing, solar fins, and thermal labyrinth ventilation.
What is the most popular architectural style in modern days?
Contemporary architecture has become most popular in the US and globally over the last decade. Contemporary styles are committed to innovation, breaking with the past, and embracing new materials like steel, concrete, and glass. Key features include clean lines, open floor plans, large windows, minimal ornamentation, and a focus on sustainability and environmental connection. Iconic contemporary buildings include the Guggenheim Museum in New York, the Walt Disney Music Hall in Los Angeles, and the Willis Tower in Chicago.
Are building costs, regulations, restrictions, and bureaucracy limiting the creative freedom of newcomer architects?
Yes, building costs, regulations, restrictions, and bureaucracy can somewhat limit new architects’ creative freedom. The main limitations come from building codes, zoning laws, budgets set by clients, and the practicalities of construction. Budgets also force architects to scale back designs. New architects may struggle to reconcile their imaginative ideas with pragmatic construction limitations. Top architects view regulations and costs as creative stimuli rather than barriers. They find ways to express their aesthetic vision while meeting legal and budget requirements. Strategies include value engineering to reduce expenses, extensive pre-planning to anticipate issues, collaborating with contractors, using cost-effective materials creatively, and leveraging digital tools to iterate designs efficiently. Mentorship from experienced architects also helps newcomers learn to navigate constraints.
How do architects tackle regulations and bureaucracy in large projects?
Architects have developed several strategies to tackle regulations and bureaucracy in large projects. Firstly, they assemble skilled teams including land use attorneys, expeditors, and code consultants to efficiently handle zoning, permitting, and compliance. Secondly, architects create detailed project schedules mapping out every approval, submission, and decision point from start to finish. They build in contingencies for delays and identify feasible paths to accelerate the schedule. Thirdly, architects focus intensely on the owner’s goals and constraints so the design aligns with zoning allowances and jurisdictional priorities. They communicate frequently with planning departments before finalizing concepts to avoid late-stage issues. Architects may even get involved with local government and advisory boards to provide input on codes and regulations. Lastly, savvy architecture firms develop relationships with officials through frequent interactions and a track record of compliant quality work. These connections help projects proceed smoothly by ensuring architects understand the nuances of interpreting specific codes.