The 18 influential American architects and some of their most famous works began with Frank Lloyd Wright, one of the most famous and influential architects of the 20th century, who developed an iconic organic American style seen in buildings like Fallingwater and the Guggenheim Museum. Other architects include Philip Johnson, a leader in International Style and postmodernism known for his Glass House; Frank Gehry, famous today for his deconstructivist buildings like the Guggenheim Bilbao; Louis Sullivan, considered the “father of skyscrapers” who coined the phrase “form follows function”; I.M. Pei, renowned for elegant modernist structures like the Louvre Pyramid; and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, a pioneering modernist behind iconic projects like the Seagram Building. Architects like Eero Saarinen, known for a sweeping sculptural style seen in the Gateway Arch; Daniel Burnham, an influential urban planner who designed iconic structures like the Flatiron Building; William Lamb, lead architect of the Empire State Building; Frederick Law Olmsted, considered the founder of American landscape architecture and designer of Central Park; Peter Eisenman, a prominent deconstructivist architect, and theorist; Albert Frey, who pioneered desert modernism in Palm Springs; and Wirt Rowland, who designed celebrated Art Deco skyscrapers in Detroit. Contemporary architects like Jeanne Gang acclaimed for sustainable towers like Aqua Tower in Chicago; Norma Merrick Sklarek, the first African-American woman architect licensed in New York and California; and Robert Robinson Taylor, the first professionally trained Black architect in the U.S. known for his work at Tuskegee Institute. These architects left an indelible mark on the American landscape over the past century through their iconic buildings, forward-thinking ideas, and barrier-breaking accomplishments.
1. Frank Lloyd Wright
Frank Lloyd Wright was one of the most famous and influential architects of the 20th century. He developed an iconic American style of architecture emphasizing simplicity, natural materials, harmony with the landscape, and open interior spaces. Wright’s long career spanned seven decades. He was born on June 8, 1867, in Richland Center, Wisconsin. He lived and worked mainly in Oak Park, Illinois, and Spring Green, Wisconsin, where he built the homes and studios of Taliesin and Taliesin West. Wright also worked in Tokyo, Japan, and Scottdale, Arizona. He died on April 9, 1959, at 91, in Phoenix, Arizona.
Wright pioneered the Prairie School movement in architecture, developing an innovative American style emphasizing horizontal lines, open interiors, and harmony with the landscape. He later formulated his vision for “organic architecture,” integrating buildings into their natural setting as an integral whole. Wright’s architecture philosophy valued simplicity, democracy, and natural beauty. Wright’s most significant accomplishment was creating the first truly original American style of architecture. Through iconic buildings like Fallingwater and the Guggenheim Museum, he demonstrated architecture’s power to transform everyday spaces into uplifting artistic works integrating engineering and design in reflection of American society. His body of work made architecture relevant and accessible to common people.
Among Wright’s most influential American works are the Robie House in Chicago, Fallingwater in Pennsylvania, the Johnson Wax Building in Wisconsin, Taliesin West in Arizona, Hollyhock House in Los Angeles, the Price Tower in Oklahoma, and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York City. These buildings tremendously influenced modern architecture through their innovation, beauty, and harmony with the context.
2. Eero Saarinen
Eero Saarinen was an iconic American architect and industrial designer known for his innovative sculptural buildings and furniture. The son of renowned Finnish architect Eliel Saarinen, Eero immigrated to the United States and became one of the most influential American architects of the mid-20th century. Eero Saarinen was born on August 20, 1910 in Kirkkonummi, Finland. In 1923, his family immigrated to the United States, settling first in Michigan, where his father, Eliel, taught architecture at Cranbrook Academy of Art.
Eero Saarinen first studied sculpture at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière in Paris, France, from 1929 to 1930. He then attended Yale University’s architecture school, graduating in 1934. At Yale, Saarinen won student design awards that launched his career. After working for his father Eliel’s firm, Saarinen founded his architectural practice, Eero Saarinen and Associates, in 1950, based in the Detroit suburb of Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.
Eero Saarinen was one of the foremost architects developing the mid-century modern style, with a unique sweeping, sculptural aesthetic he called the “New Romanticism.” Eero Saarinen’s most significant accomplishment was creating a distinctive, sculptural modernist American style that departed from earlier dogmatic modernism to integrate architecture into landscapes and urban contexts organically.
Some of Eero Saarinen’s most iconic buildings include the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, General Motors Technical Center in Michigan, MIT’s Kresge Auditorium and Chapel, Dulles International Airport outside Washington D.C., and the TWA Flight Center at JFK Airport in New York. These projects showcased Saarinen’s expressive forms and expert integration of architecture with surroundings. Saarinen also designed influential furniture, such as the Tulip chair with Charles Eames.
3. Philip Johnson
Philip Johnson was an influential American architect and architectural critic. He co-founded the International Style of Architecture and designed many iconic modernist buildings. Johnson promoted modern architecture through his leadership of the architecture department at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Philip Johnson was born in Cleveland, Ohio, United States, in 1906. He grew up in various cities in Ohio before his family settled in New London, Connecticut, in 1913.
Philip Johnson graduated from Harvard University with a bachelor’s degree in philosophy in 1930. While at Harvard, he studied art and architectural history, which sparked his interest in modern architecture. In 1932, Johnson was appointed director of the Department of Architecture and Modern Art at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. He was largely self-taught in architecture. Philip Johnson was born in Cleveland, Ohio, on July 8, 1906. He lived and practiced architecture mainly in New York City for most of his life. Johnson also had a home known as the Glass House in New Canaan, Connecticut, which became an important architectural landmark. He died on January 25, 2005, at 98, in his Glass House residence.
Philip Johnson was a leading proponent of the International Style of modernist architecture. He later explored postmodern and deconstructivist architectural styles. Johnson’s buildings feature glass curtain walls and minimalist geometric forms. Through his role at MoMA and facilities like the Glass House, he made modernism accessible to the public. His iconic skyscrapers redefined city skylines across America.
Some of Philip Johnson’s most significant buildings include the Glass House in Connecticut, the Seagram Building in New York, the AT&T Building in New York, PPG Place in Pittsburgh, Pennzoil Place in Houston, and the Crystal Cathedral in California. These projects had a significant impact on modern and postmodern architectural styles.
4. Frank Gehry
Frank Gehry is an internationally renowned Canadian-American architect known for his deconstructivist building designs featuring fragmented, non-rectilinear forms.
Frank Gehry was born Ephraim Owen Goldberg on February 28, 1929, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. His family moved to Los Angeles, California, when he was a teenager. Gehry has lived and worked primarily in Los Angeles since the 1950s, where his firm Gehry Partners is based.
Gehry is one of the most famous and influential architects of the contemporary era. His buildings have become tourist attractions in their own right due to their unconventional, sculptural appearance. Frank Gehry received his architecture education in the United States. He graduated with a Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles in 1954. Gehry also briefly studied city planning at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design for one year before returning to Los Angeles without completing the program. His architectural training was concentrated in Southern California.
Frank Gehry is famous for his postmodern, deconstructivist architectural style, which features fragmented, non-rectilinear forms and experimentation with unusual building materials. Frank Gehry’s most significant accomplishment is elevating highly experimental, sculptural architecture into the mainstream through iconic buildings like the Guggenheim Bilbao. His radical designs have changed cities’ skylines and attracted immense cultural and tourism interest. Some of Frank Gehry’s most iconic and influential projects include the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain. Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles. Dancing House in Prague, Czech Republic, Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris, France, and his Santa Monica residence. These avant-garde buildings draw millions of visitors intrigued by Gehry’s singular postmodern vision.
5. Louis Sullivan
Louis Sullivan was a pioneering American architect considered the “father of skyscrapers” and modern commercial architecture. Born in Boston, Sullivan studied architecture briefly at MIT before apprenticing under prominent Philadelphia architect Frank Furness. He then worked for William Le Baron Jenney, known for early iron and steel framed buildings, in Chicago after the Great Fire of 1871.
Sullivan’s most famous principle was that “form follows function.” This became a mantra for modernist architecture. He advocated for a functionalist, organic American architecture free of historical imitation and ornament. Sullivan pioneered the tripartite skyscraper design with distinct base, shaft, and capital sections. He integrated stylized ornamentation inspired by nature to accentuate buildings’ structure and function. After his partnership dissolved in 1895, Sullivan had a challenging later career but continued to produce influential buildings, including the Carson Pirie Scott department store in Chicago.
Sullivan made several seminal contributions to architecture in late 19th century America. His forward-thinking functionalist philosophy and designs inspired future generations of modern architects. By emphasizing tall buildings’ verticality through form, Sullivan demonstrated the creative possibilities of new structural technologies and urban scales. His bold visions revealed architecture’s potential as a uniquely American, organic art form. Although initially controversial, Sullivan paved the way for streamlined modern skyscrapers. He produced numerous writings outlining his architectural philosophies along with his influential buildings. Sullivan helped shape architecture as a professional field in America. His legacy as a pioneer of modern architecture and skyscraper design continues to impact architects today.
6. I M. Pei
Ieoh Ming Pei, commonly known as I.M. Pei, was one of the most renowned and prolific modernist architects of the 20th century. I.M. Pei was born in Canton, China on April 26, 1917. He lived and worked primarily in New York City from the 1940s onward while designing iconic buildings globally. Pei died on May 16, 2019, at 102, in Manhattan, New York City, United States.
He designed over 60 buildings worldwide in his distinctive modernist style, combining geometric shapes, glass curtain walls, and an interplay of light and shadows. He immigrated to the United States in 1935 to attend university. Pei lived in New York City for most of his career while designing essential buildings nationwide and worldwide. I.M. Pei initially studied architecture at the University of Pennsylvania before transferring to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where he received his B.S. in Architecture in 1940. He earned his M.Arch from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design in 1946.
I.M. Pei was one of the most prominent modernist architects of the 20th century. His signature architectural style combines modernist design with geometric shapes, glass curtain walls, and an emphasis on how light interacts with a building’s volumes and surfaces. Some of I.M. Pei’s most renowned American buildings are the East Building of the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C., the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston, the Dallas City Hall, the East Building of the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C., and the Miho Museum in Shiga, Japan. These projects demonstrate his mastery of modernist design adapted to local contexts.
7. Ludwig Mies van der Rohe
Ludwig Mies van der Rohe was one of the most influential modernist architects of the 20th century. Along with Walter Gropius and Le Corbusier, he pioneered the International Style that came to define modern architecture. Ludwig Mies van der Rohe was born Maria Ludwig Michael Mies on March 27, 1886 in Aachen, Germany. He grew up working in his father’s stonemasonry workshop. He settled in Chicago, where many of his seminal later works like Crown Hall are found. He died in Chicago on August 17, 1969, at age 83.
Mies was educated in Germany, first training under master stonemasons before entering Berlin’s Royal Building Trade School in 1905. He later apprenticed with architect Bruno Paul and worked for esteemed architect Peter Behrens from 1908-1912 alongside Walter Gropius and Le Corbusier, absorbing avant-garde design ideas. Mies served as director of architecture at the pioneering Bauhaus school in Berlin from 1930-1933, implementing a curriculum combining architecture, art, and crafts. After immigrating to America in 1937, Mies chaired the architecture department at Chicago’s Armour Institute until 1958.
Ludwig Mies van der Rohe was a pioneering modernist architect who created the International Style to define modern architecture in the 20th century. His designs are characterized by open floor plans, glass curtain walls, metal and concrete construction, and minimalist forms emphasizing clean lines and geometry.
Mies van der Rohe’s most significant accomplishment in America was introducing the International Style pioneered in Europe to the modern American cityscape. Mies created an influential “second Chicago school” of architecture that popularized modernism across America. Some of Mies van der Rohe’s most iconic American projects include the Lake Shore Drive Apartments in Chicago, Crown Hall at IIT, the Seagram Building in New York City, and the Neue Nationalgalerie art museum in Berlin, Germany.
8. Daniel Burnham
Daniel Hudson Burnham was an American architect and urban planner who was one of the most influential figures in the development of modern American cities. Daniel Hudson Burnham was born on September 4, 1846, in Henderson, New York, United States. He moved to Chicago, Illinois, with his family in the 1850s, where he lived most of his life. Burnham died unexpectedly at age 65 on June 1, 1912, while traveling in Heidelberg, Germany, following surgery for an intestinal illness earlier that year.
He pioneered the City Beautiful movement, which incorporated grand neoclassical architecture, parks, and orderly city planning to create beautiful and functional cities. Although accepted to neither Harvard nor Yale after failing entrance exams, Daniel Burnham received informal architectural training in Chicago, working under the legendary architect and engineer William LeBaron Jenney starting in 1867.
Daniel Burnham was the leading architect of the American Beaux-Arts and City Beautiful movement. Daniel Burnham’s most significant accomplishment was innovating modern American architecture and urban planning in the late 19th/early 20th century. He advanced technical capabilities in early skyscraper design. In the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair and 1909 Plan of Chicago, Burnham demonstrated the possibilities of formal civic planning to improve urban life. His legendary accomplishments made Burnham among the most renowned American architects ever.
Daniel Burnham’s most iconic American buildings that advanced modern architecture include the Flatiron Building in New York, Union Station in Washington, D.C., and the Reliance Building in Chicago. His most ambitious urban plans included the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair “White City,” 1902 Washington D.C. redesign, the 1903 Cleveland Group Plan, the 1905 Manila Plan, and the 1909 Plan of Chicago that shaped the Windy City’s lakefront and neighborhoods. These buildings and plans left an enduring architectural legacy across the US.
9. William F. Lamb
William F. Lamb was an American architect best known as the lead designer of the landmark 102-story Empire State Building in New York City. William Frederick Lamb was born in Brooklyn, New York, United States, in 1883. He spent his entire career as an architect in New York City. Lamb received his architecture education at Columbia University in New York City and the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris, France, before returning to work in New York. He spent his entire life living and working as an architect in New York City. Lamb passed away in 1952 at age 69 in New York, New York.
He co-founded Shreve, Lamb, and Harmon, which was selected to design the Empire State Building. Lamb created the skyscraper’s distinctive Art Deco tapered form in just two weeks. He furthered his studies at the prestigious Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris, France, known for its classical Beaux Arts architectural style. Lamb gained experience working for prominent firms like Carrère and Hastings in New York before co-founding Shreve, Lamb, and Harmon in 1929, where he designed the Empire State Building.
William F. Lamb designed in the Art Deco architectural style, exemplified by his most famous Empire State Building. William F. Lamb’s most significant accomplishment was creating the iconic Empire State Building, the world’s tallest building, for over 40 years after its completion in 1931. It remains one of New York’s most famous landmarks. Lamb created the building’s distinctive tiered Art Deco form in just two weeks. William F. Lamb’s most essential and well-known work is undoubtedly the Empire State Building in New York City. As lead architect of the firm Shreve, Lamb, and Harmon, Lamb designed the 102-story skyscraper in just two weeks in 1929. Completed in 1931, the sleek, tapered Art Deco Empire State Building was the world’s tallest building for over 40 years. It established Lamb’s reputation as a visionary skyscraper designer.
10. Frederick Law Olmsted
Frederick Law Olmsted was an American landscape architect considered the founder of American landscape architecture. Frederick Law Olmsted was born on April 26, 1822, in Hartford, Connecticut, United States. He spent much of his childhood in New England before working as a merchant seaman and journalist, which took him across the southern United States and abroad to China. In 1857, Olmsted settled in New York City with his design partner, Calvert Vaux. Olmsted retired to Massachusetts and died there on August 28, 1903, at age 81.
Olmsted created some of the most famous urban parks in the United States, including Central Park and Prospect Park in New York City. His firm completed over 500 landscape projects across North America over his long career spanning the late 19th century. Olmsted was a proponent of national parks and helped preserve areas like Yosemite and Niagara Falls. Although well-educated and well-read, Frederick Law Olmsted never received formal landscape design or architecture training. He gained valuable first-hand experience traveling ext, which exposed him to exemplary landscapes and parks in Europe and across America. Olmsted learned on the job, completing his first major urban park project, Central Park in New York, with no previous landscape credentials.
Frederick Law Olmsted’s work represents the founding of American landscape design. His style harmoniously integrated green spaces and water features into densely built cities. Frederick Law Olmsted’s most significant accomplishment was originating the field of landscape architecture and urban park systems in America. Some of Frederick Law Olmsted’s most important and influential works include Central Park and Prospect Park in New York City, the grounds of the Capitol and White House in Washington D.C., the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893, Stanford University campus near Palo Alto, California, and the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina encompassing over 125,000 acres of managed forest land. These landscape projects pioneered the integration of nature into densely populated cities and set the standard for American landscape architecture.
11. Peter Eisenman
Peter Eisenman is an internationally renowned American architect, educator, and theorist. He is a prominent figure in postmodern and deconstructivist architecture. Eisenman’s experimental, conceptual designs challenge traditional ideas about architecture. He was born in 1932 in Newark, New Jersey, United States. He has lived and practiced architecture mainly in New York City, where he founded the Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies in 1967 and taught at Cooper Union. Eisenman is an architect, educator, and author based in New York City.
He studied architecture at Cornell University, Columbia University, and the University of Cambridge in England. Eisenman has lived and worked primarily in New York City, where he founded the Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies in 1967. This served as a significant forum for architectural theory and criticism. Peter Eisenman received a Bachelor of Architecture degree from Cornell University in 1955. He later earned a Master of Science in Architecture from Columbia University in 1960. Eisenman then pursued graduate studies at the University of Cambridge in England, where he received a Master of Arts in 1963 and a Ph.D. in architecture in 1963.
Peter Eisenman is known for his postmodern and deconstructivist architecture. His highly conceptual designs often fragment traditional architectural elements and grids. Peter Eisenman’s most significant accomplishment was elevating conceptual architecture focused on theoretical ideas and form over function into the architectural mainstream. Some of Peter Eisenman’s most renowned buildings include the Wexner Center for the Arts in Ohio, the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe in Berlin, Germany, the City of Culture of Galicia in Spain, and a series of conceptual houses, including House VI in Connecticut.
12. Albert Frey
Albert Frey was a Swiss-American architect who was instrumental in developing a mid-century modern style, Desert Modernism in Palm Springs, California. Albert Frey was born on October 18, 1903 in Zurich, Switzerland. He was educated and began his architecture career in Europe, working in Switzerland, Germany, Belgium, and France, including a period in Le Corbusier’s atelier. In 1930, Frey immigrated to the United States, first living in New York before settling permanently in Palm Springs, California, in 1939, where he resided until he died in 1998 at age 95.
Albert Frey studied architecture and received his diploma from the Institute of Technology in Winterthur, Switzerland, in 1924. His early training there focused more on traditional construction than modern design styles. Frey furthered his architectural education by working under prominent European modernists like Le Corbusier, for whom he worked in Paris from 1928 to 1930. The majority of Frey’s training was thus through hands-on apprenticeships rather than formal academic programs.
Albert pioneered desert modernism, the regional modernist style that developed around Palm Springs in the mid-20th century. Frey combined European modernism with local influences to create an iconic Palm Springs aesthetic. Albert Frey’s most significant accomplishment was elevating Palm Springs into an architectural mecca through his visionary modernist buildings that established the Desert Modern style. Some of Albert Frey’s most significant American projects showing his Desert Modern aesthetic include Frey House I and II, Palm Springs City Hall, the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway Valley Station, Raymond Loewy House, Tramway Gas Station, and Agua Caliente Casino. These buildings exemplified open-air living in harmony with the arid environment through passive solar design.
13. Wirt C. Rowland
Wirt C. Rowland was a prolific American architect based in Detroit, Michigan, who designed many of the city’s most iconic skyscrapers and buildings during the early 20th century. He was born on December 1, 1878, in Clinton, Michigan, United States. He studied architecture and worked in Detroit for his entire career after moving there in 1901. Rowland kept strong ties with his hometown of Clinton throughout his life, designing some structures there, such as the chapel addition for the First Congregational Church of Clinton. He died in Grand Rapids, Michigan, in 1946 at age 67.
Rowland worked for leading Detroit architects, including Rogers & MacFarlane, George D. Mason, Albert Kahn, Smith Hinchman,& Grylls, over his 50-year career. He pioneered an architectural style blending Gothic and Art Deco influences with rich ornamentation. Rowland’s landmark buildings that helped shape Detroit’s skyline include the Buhl Building, Penobscot Building, and his most famous opulent Guardian, Building nicknamed the “Cathedral of Finance.” Wirt C. Rowland learned on the job through apprenticeships starting in 1901 at the Detroit firms of Rogers & MacFarlane and George D. Mason. Mason and Albert Kahn later sponsored Rowland’s enrollment as a particular student at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Architecture from 1910 to 1911. This allowed Rowland to study architectural history and theory to complement his practical experience.
Wirt C. Rowland designed buildings showcasing a range of styles, but he is best known for his Art Deco skyscrapers incorporating Gothic influences. His greatest accomplishment was creating some of Detroit’s most iconic and visually stunning skyscrapers that redefined the city’s skyline during its 1920s building boom. Rowland’s Guardian and Penobscot Buildings represent the height of the Art Deco architectural style. He advanced skyscraper design through artistic exterior detailing.
Some of Wirt C. Rowland’s landmark buildings that helped shape early 20th century Detroit include the Buhl Building (1925), Penobscot Building (1928), Guardian Building (1929), Globe Building (1911), Detroit Athletic Club (1915), Detroit News Building annex (1916), and his 1924 addition to the First Congregational Church of Clinton. These and other designs left an enduring architectural legacy in Detroit.
14. Jeanne Gang
Jeanne Gang is an American architect and founding principal of Studio Gang Architects, an architecture and urban design practice based in Chicago. Jeanne Gang was born in 1964 in Belvidere, Illinois, United States. She studied architecture at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, receiving her bachelor’s degree in 1986. Gang later attended Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design, earning her master’s in architecture in 1993. She founded Studio Gang Architects in her hometown of Chicago in 1997, where the firm is still headquartered today.
Gang is an internationally famous architect known for her innovative, ecologically minded designs, including the Aqua Tower in Chicago, one of the world’s tallest buildings designed by a woman. Her projects aim to foster community and connect people to nature in urban settings. Gang has won numerous honors, including the MacArthur Foundation “genius grant,” and was the first woman architect to receive the prestigious Louis Kahn Memorial Award.
Jeanne Gang earned a Bachelor of Science in Architecture from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1986. She received the Rotary Foundation Ambassadorial Scholarship to study abroad, spending a year at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology focused on urban design. Jeanne Gang is known for an innovative contemporary architectural style that connects people to nature and the environment. Gang aims to create community-oriented spaces that bring people together. She represents an organic modernism responsive to context.
Jeanne Gang’s most significant accomplishment is elevating the role of ecologically minded design in contemporary American architecture. Some of Jeanne Gang’s most iconic projects include the Aqua Tower in Chicago (2010), Writers Theatre in Glencoe, Illinois (2016), the Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership in Kalamazoo, Michigan (2014), the Nature Boardwalk at Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago (2010), and Polis Station (2015), her speculative concept for a new neighborhood police station. These works highlight her career-long commitment to community-oriented, ecologically thoughtful architecture.
15. Norma Merrick Sklarek
Norma Merrick Sklarek was a pioneering African-American architect known for breaking barriers in the male-dominated profession. She was the first Black woman to be licensed as an architect in New York and California. Norma Merrick Sklarek was born on April 15, 1926, in Harlem, New York, United States, to parents who were immigrants from the Caribbean. She grew up in New York City, attending Columbia University for architecture school. Sklarek practiced architecture in Los Angeles, California, starting in the 1960s. She also worked in New York on an important overseas project, the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo, Japan. Over her career, Sklarek worked on major projects like the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo while also mentoring and advocating for women and minorities in architecture.
Norma Merrick Sklarek attended the prestigious architecture program at Columbia University in New York City in the late 1940s. She earned a Bachelor of Architecture degree from Columbia in 1950. Sklarek was one of the very few women studying architecture at that time. Over her long career working for prominent firms like Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, and Gruen Associates, Norma Merrick Sklarek contributed to many significant modernist buildings. These included the California Mart in Los Angeles, Fox Plaza in San Francisco, and the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo, Japan. She later co-founded the woman-owned firm Siegel Sklarek Diamond in 1985.
Norma Merrick Sklarek’s most significant contribution was becoming the first Black woman licensed as an architect in New York and California, paving the way for others. Some of Norma Merrick Sklarek’s major architectural works included Terminal One of the Los Angeles International Airport (1984), the U.S. Embassy building in Tokyo, Japan (1976), Los Angeles’ Bonaventure Hotel (1978), and the Fox Plaza tower in San Francisco (1966). These demonstrate her achievements as an African-American woman directing prominent projects.
16. Robert Robinson Taylor
Robert Robinson Taylor was the first academically trained African-American architect in the United States. Born in Wilmington, North Carolina, Taylor attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, becoming the university’s first Black graduate in 1892. Booker T. Washington recruited Taylor to lead the architectural and construction programs at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. Robert Robinson Taylor was born on June 6, 1868, in Wilmington, North Carolina.
Robert Robinson Taylor studied in the architecture program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Boston, Massachusetts, from 1888 to 1892. He was the first African-American student admitted to MIT’s architecture program. Taylor earned his bachelor’s degree in architecture from MIT in 1892, becoming the university’s first Black graduate. This architecture training prepared him for his later role in designing the Tuskegee Institute campus. The buildings Robert R. Taylor designed at Tuskegee Institute feature the neoclassical architectural style characterized by imposing columns, symmetrical facades, and classical ornamentation. This dignified, formal style was meant to convey the severe educational mission of the campus. Taylor’s Tuskegee Chapel (1898) is an excellent example of his classically inspired designs.
Robert R. Taylor’s most significant accomplishment was becoming the first academically trained African-American architect in the U.S. and designing the iconic early campus of Tuskegee Institute. Some of Robert R. Taylor’s most significant architectural works were designing the original Tuskegee Institute campus buildings from the 1890s onward, including the Tuskegee Chapel (1898), Carnegie Library (1905), Cleveland Hall (1906), and the Music Hall originally Carnegie Library (1912). These neoclassical buildings came to represent the historic heart of Tuskegee’s campus.
17. Robert Venturi
Robert Venturi was an influential American architect, principal of Venturi, Scott Brown and Associates, and a leading figure in the postmodern architecture movement. Venturi is known for his writings and built works challenging modernist orthodoxy and advocating for a more inclusive, historical, and communicative architecture along with his wife and partner, Denise Scott Brown. Robert Venturi was born on June 25, 1925, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States. He lived and practiced architecture in Philadelphia for most of his life. Venturi passed away on September 18, 2018, in Philadelphia at 93.
Venturi received his undergraduate and master’s degrees in architecture from Princeton University in New Jersey in the late 1940s. He was awarded a Rome Prize Fellowship to study at the American Academy in Rome from 1954 to 1956. Venturi taught architecture at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia for over 20 years, starting in the early 1960s.
Robert Venturi was a leading architect of the postmodern architecture movement. His work reacted against the austerity and functionalism of modernism by incorporating historical references, ornamentation, and communicative elements. Venturi sought to create architecture that was more culturally relevant and accessible to the public. Robert Venturi’s most outstanding contribution was bringing postmodern ideas into the architectural mainstream in America through his built works and theoretical writings. Some of Robert Venturi’s most iconic American buildings showing his postmodern approach include the Vanna Venturi House in Philadelphia, the Sainsbury Wing of the National Gallery in Washington D.C., the Seattle Art Museum, and the Children’s Museum of Houston. These projects demonstrate his ability to reference architectural history in contemporary designs thoughtfully.
18. Richard Morris Hunt
Richard Morris Hunt was a pioneering American architect considered the foremost practitioner of the Beaux-Arts style in the late 19th century. Hunt was the first American to attend the prestigious École des Beaux-Arts in Paris. Richard Morris Hunt was born on October 31, 1827, in Brattleboro, Vermont, United States. After studying architecture in Paris, Hunt returned to the US and based his architectural practice first in New York City and later in Newport, Rhode Island, where he designed lavish mansions. He worked on significant projects across America.
He helped introduce Beaux-Arts principles of formal, classically inspired design to the US through iconic Gilded Age mansions like Biltmore Estate and the Breakers. Hunt designed prominent civic structures, including the Statue of Liberty base and the Metropolitan Museum of Art facade. His commissions came from America’s wealthiest families, including the Vanderbilts and Astors. Hunt helped elevate architecture into a respected profession in America. Unable to find formal architecture training in America, Richard Morris Hunt became the first American to attend the prestigious École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, where he studied from 1846 to 1854. Hunt received rigorous training in classical Beaux-Arts design principles under instructors like Hector Lefuel. He also toured architectural monuments across Europe. This Beaux-Arts education deeply influenced Hunt’s style when he returned to America and began his architecture career.
Richard Morris Hunt was the most prominent American architect practicing the Beaux-Arts architectural style in the late 1800s. His greatest contribution was elevating architecture into a respected profession by co-founding the American Institute of Architects and his prestigious commissions for wealthy clients like the Vanderbilts. Some of Hunt’s most significant and iconic works include Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina; the Breakers and Marble House mansions in Newport, Rhode Island; the base of the Statue of Liberty; the Metropolitan Museum of Art facade in New York; and the Administration Building at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. These helped define Gilded Age architecture.
Who are the famous American architects in modern times?
Below is the list of the eight famous modern American architects:
- Frank Lloyd Wright: Frank Lloyd Wright was a visionary architect widely considered one of the pioneers of modern and organic architecture. His iconic buildings, such as Fallingwater and the Guggenheim Museum, emphasized simplicity, harmony with nature, and the connection between buildings and their environment. His designs were characterized by their clean lines, geometric shapes, and use of natural materials.
- Philip Johnson: Philip Johnson co-founded the International Style of Architecture and designed prominent buildings like the Glass House, Seagram Building, and AT&T Building. His designs championed sleek, functionalist forms with glass curtain walls, which became a hallmark of the Modernist movement. He was also known for experimenting with materials, including steel and concrete.
- Louis Kahn: Louis Kahn was a highly influential architect known for his expressive designs that blended modernism with classical architecture. His most famous works include the Salk Institute and the National Assembly Building in Bangladesh. Kahn was also renowned for his philosophical, influential architectural writings emphasizing the importance of light and space in architectural design.
- Frank Gehry: Frank Gehry is a world-known architect famous for his postmodern, deconstructivist buildings featuring unconventional shapes and materials like titanium and glass. His iconic, sculptural forms have a “wow” factor that is hard to ignore. Examples of his work include the Guggenheim Bilbao and Walt Disney Concert Hall.
- I.M. Pei: I.M. Pei was a master of combining modernist forms with the cultural traditions of diverse sites internationally. His most famous works include the National Gallery East Wing and the Louvre Pyramid. His simple geometric designs showed technical sophistication, and he became known for using concrete and glass.
- Richard Meier: Richard Meier is a leading modernist architect known for his abstract, minimalist white buildings exploring complex geometry. His most famous works include the Getty Center and the Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art. Meier focuses on harmony and form, and his buildings often use natural light to create a sense of spaciousness.
- Thom Mayne: Thom Mayne founded Morphosis, an architecture firm specializing in high-tech, sculptural buildings. His most famous work is the Cooper Union academic building, which features bold, futuristic forms. Mayne seeks innovation in materials and structural systems, and his work is often characterized by its use of complex geometries.
- Jeanne Gang: Jeanne Gang leads Studio Gang, an architecture firm that combines sustainability and sculptural contemporary forms well-suited to urban centers. Her most famous work is the Aqua Tower, one of the tallest buildings designed by a woman. Her designs often incorporate natural materials and elements, such as water, to create a sense of balance and harmony with the environment.
Who are the famous American architects with the most considerable influence on modern architecture?
Here is the list of the famous American architects with considerable influence in modern architecture:
- Frank Lloyd Wright: Frank Lloyd Wright was an American architect and designer who pioneered the concept of organic architecture, which promoted the harmonious integration of human habitation with the natural environment. He is widely known for his iconic works such as Fallingwater, Guggenheim Museum, and Robie House, which are celebrated for their innovative design and use of local materials.
- Eero Saarinen: Eero Saarinen was a Finnish-American architect who brought futuristic and sweeping forms to modernism. His famous projects include Gateway Arch, General Motors Technical Center, and TWA Flight Center. Saarinen’s designs were characterized by their fluidity and dynamism, which were achieved through the use of innovative materials and construction techniques.
- Philip Johnson: Philip Johnson (1906-2005) was an American architect and curator who played a pivotal role in developing the International Style in America. He was the first director of MoMA’s architecture and design department and is famous for his iconic works, such as the Glass House, AT&T Building, and Seagram Building. Johnson’s designs were characterized by their sleek simplicity and minimalist aesthetics.
- Frank Gehry: Frank Gehry is an American-Canadian architect known for his sculptural and deconstructivist forms that challenge traditional notions of architecture. He is renowned for his iconic works, such as the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, Walt Disney Concert Hall, and Dancing House, which are celebrated for their bold and innovative design.
- Louis Sullivan: Louis Sullivan was an American architect widely regarded as the father of skyscrapers and modernism. He developed the philosophy of “form follows function” which is still widely used in modern architecture. Sullivan’s notable works include the Wainwright Building, Guaranty Building, and Carson, Pirie, Scott, and Company Building, which are celebrated for their innovative design and use of new construction materials.
- I.M. Pei: I.M. Pei was a Chinese-American architect who was highly influential in the field of modernist architecture. He was noted for his trapezoidal structures and contextual designs, characterized by their elegant simplicity and functionality. Some of Pei’s most known works include the East Building of the National Gallery of Art and the Louvre Pyramid, which are celebrated for their innovative design and use of natural light.
- Ludwig Mies van der Rohe: Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (1886-1969) was a German-American architect who led the International Style. He is renowned for his minimalist dictum of “less is more,” and his famous projects include the Barcelona Pavilion, Farnsworth House, and Seagram Building. Mies van dledns were characterized by their clean lines, open spaces, and use of industrial materials.
- Robert Venturi: Robert Venturi (1925-2018) was an American architect who challenged modernist orthodoxy through his playful, postmodern buildings. His key examples include the Vanna Venturi House and the Seattle Art Museum, which are celebrated for their bold and innovative designs incorporating historical references and a sense of humor.
What are the most famous architectural wonders in America?
America’s most famous architectural structures are in America are The Empire State Building in New York City, The Golden Gate Bridge, The Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Fallingwater in Pennsylvania, The White House in Washington D.C., and the Hoover Dam. First, The Empire State Building, located in New York City, is a 102-story Art Deco skyscraper that was the world’s tallest building for over 40 years after its completion in 1931. Second, The Golden Gate Bridge spanning the entrance to San Francisco Bay features stunning Art Deco design and International Orange color. As one of the most photographed bridges in the world, it epitomizes San Francisco and has become a global symbol of engineering innovation. Third, The Gateway Arch in St. Louis, designed by Eero Saarinen, is a 630-foot tall, sweeping arch representing America’s westward expansion in the 19th century. As the tallest arch in the world, it commemorates Thomas Jefferson and St. Louis’ role in pioneering the Western United States. Fourth, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater in Pennsylvania revolutionized modern architecture by integrating a house directly over a 30-foot waterfall, blending manmade and natural worlds through organic design. Fifth, The White House in Washington D.C. has served as the official residence and workplace of the President since 1800, representing the history and power of America’s highest executive office for over 200 years through multiple architectural expansions. Lastly, the Hoover Dam, built in 1931-1936, was an unprecedented feat of engineering for its time. The massive concrete arch-gravity dam on the Nevada/Arizona border tamed the Colorado River during the Great Depression to provide essential water and hydroelectric resources.
What are the most known architectural firms in America?
The most well-known American architecture firms include Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, HOK, Perkins and Will, and Gensler. Firstly, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill was founded in 1936. SOM is one of the world’s largest and most influential architecture firms. They have designed iconic buildings like the Willis Tower, One World Trade Center, and Burj Khalifa. Secondly, HOK was founded in 1955. HOK is known for creating sports stadiums, airports, corporate offices, and other large projects worldwide. Key projects include the National Air and Space Museum, Moscone Center, and Beijing National Stadium. Thirdly, Perkins and Will was founded in 1935. It focuses on commercial, hospitality, education, science, and healthcare projects. They designed buildings like the Art Institute of Chicago, Discovery Green Park, and Shanghai Natural History Museum. Lastly, Gensler was founded in 1965. Gensler is a leading global architecture firm specializing in commercial office towers, retail centers, entertainment venues, and other building types. Key projects include the Shanghai Tower, Incheon International Airport, and Facebook Headquarters. Some other major American architecture firms include HKS, Inc., The Architectural Team, CannonDesign, CallisonRTKL, and Leo A Daly, which handle projects nationwide and worldwide. Many smaller boutique firms also produce influential designs.
What is the architecture body in America?
- American Institute of Architects (AIA): This is the leading professional membership organization for licensed architects in the United States. Founded in 1857, the AIA works to advance the value of architects and architecture, representing over 94,000 members.
- National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB): NCARB develops and administers standards for architectural licensure in the U.S. to ensure public health, safety, and welfare. It provides services related to the examination, certification, and regulation of architects.
- American Institute of Architecture Students (AIAS): The AIAS is an independent organization representing architecture students in the U.S. It advocates for issues affecting architectural education and the profession.
- Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA): ACSA is a nonprofit association of North American architecture schools, faculty, and administrators from accredited colleges and universities. It works to advance architectural education.
- National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA): NOMA aims to champion diversity within the design professions by promoting minority architects. The organization has over 1,200 members across 17 professional chapters.
- American Planning Association (APA): The APA provides leadership in urban planning, design, and development fields to help create communities of lasting value. It represents over 40,000 professional planners, officials, and citizens.
What is the most popular architectural style in America?
The most popular architectural style in America is Colonial Revival. Colonial Revival architecture mimics the simple, early English and Dutch colonial styles in the 17th and 18th centuries along the Atlantic coast and West Indies. The style became widely popular again in the late 19th century as a backlash against more ornate Victorian styles. The popularity of the Colonial Revival further expanded early in the 20th century. The style uses symmetrical facades, gabled roofs, multi-pane windows, porches with columns and railings, accentuated front doors, and minimal exterior decoration. Several factors fueled the style’s preeminence – a historic preservation movement starting in the 1920s to protect critical colonial buildings, accelerated suburbanization after WWII requiring mass-produced housing, and an American longing for architectural nostalgia. While many variations exist, quintessential Colonial Revival elements reflect national pride by honoring the earliest colonial architectural roots.
What are the most used house-building materials in America?
The most common building materials used for house construction in America are wood, concrete, steel, brick, stone, and glass. Wood framing is used extensively for walls, floors, and roofs in residential construction. Wood is affordable, renewable, and easy to work with. Concrete is poured for home foundations and basement floors. It provides strength and durability. Steel is used for interior supports and reinforced concrete. Brick is a popular exterior siding material for its attractive appearance, durability, and fire resistance. Natural stone, like granite, is valued for countertops, floors, and accents. Glass is ubiquitous for windows and sometimes in innovative walls or skylights. Other vital materials are drywall, stucco, ceramic tile, and various composites used for siding, roofing, and trim.
Do building materials affect the payment of an architect?
Yes, the building materials an architect specifies can sometimes affect their payment. Most residential architects charge fees based on a percentage of total construction costs. More expensive materials like premium finishes will raise the overall budget and the architect’s percentage fee. Their fee North American reflects overall services like producing drawings, submitting permits, and construction administration. Material costs are a larger factor for contractors who earn profit.
How much is the salary of an architect in America?
The average salary for an architect in the United States is $80000 (€72800, £69600) annually. Salaries range significantly based on firm, city, expertise, and years of experience. The lowest 10% of architects earn below $62220 (€58000, £46000) annually, while the top 10% earn above $105190 (€98000, £78000). The location also impacts pay, with top-earning states like New York averaging $100000 to $150000 (€93000 to €139000, £75000 to £112000) annually. Architects early in their careers generally start around $50000-$60000 (€46000-€56000, £37500-£45000) per year, with experienced senior architects earning well from $132000-$262000 (€122755-€243510, £100000-£200000) at some prestigious firms. The national median salary for architects in the US falls $80000 (€72800, £69600) per year.
What US States have the highest salaries in America?
New York City offers the highest salaries for architects in the US, ranging from $100000 to $150000 (€93000 to €139000, £75000 to £112000) annually on average. Senior architects with 15-20 years of experience at prestigious firms like SOM, Perkins Eastman, Pei Cobb Freed & Partners, and Renzo Piano Building Workshop can make over $200000 (€186000, £150000). Major architecture companies’ new development and density, especially in Manhattan, drive top-tier compensation higher than anywhere else in the country. The salaries reflect the fast pace, complex building projects, and high living costs in New York.