Architecture is one of the most long-lasting forms of expression that humanity has witnessed since the beginning of evolution. Right from the caves during early times to the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt to the current day glass skyscrapers seen in almost every city, architecture has been evolving continuously over all these years. The needs of people changed, which led to the innovation of new materials and new styles of architecture which were distinctive from the previous one. Each architect has tried to make an impact on society and create their own unique identity in the world. Many such architects have inspired not only architecture students or other architects but also common people, who are in awe of their designs. 

Here is a list of some of the most influential architects of all time that have continued to inspire generation after generation of people. 

1. Le Corbusier

Charles-Edouard Jeanneret Gris or better known his pseudonym Le Corbusier (October 06, 1887 – August 27, 1965) was born in the small Swiss city of La Chaux-de-Fonds. Corbusier created many unique structures in the early years of his career and the most famous one being Villa Savoye, which demonstrates his five points of architecture. He also developed his anthropometric scale of proportions called ‘Modular’. His contribution to architecture is immeasurable and he helped form the basis for most of the modernist architecture and urban planning of his time.

Some of his famous works include:

  • Villa Savoye, France, 1931
  • Unité d’ Habitation, France, 1952
  • Secretariat Building, Chandigarh, 1953
  • Notre Dame du Haut, Ronchamp, 1954
  • Mill Owners’ Association Building, Ahmedabad, 1956
  • Zurich Pavilion, Switzerland, 1967
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The famous Swiss architect, Le Corbusier ©
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Villa Savoye (1931), which demonstrated Corbusier’s ‘Five Points of Architecture’ ©

2. Alvar Aalto

Hugo Alvar Henrik Alto (03 February 1898 – 11 May 1976) was a Finnish architect and designer, who developed a unique style and designed not only buildings but furniture pieces as well. He was a part of the Modern Movement of Architecture, yet developed his style based on modernist ideologies mixed with the use of local materials. His works range from Nordic Classicism during the early years to a rational Modernism style. It was characteristic of Aalto to design each building like a piece of art, from the structure to the furniture and light fittings.

Some of his famous works include:

  • Paimio Sanatorium, Finland, 1928
  • Viipuri Library, Russia, 1935
  • Jyvaskyla University Building, Finland, 1951
  • House of Culture, Finland, 1955
  • Maison Louis Carré, France, 1959
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Alvar Aalto in his office in the 1960s ©
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Interior view of the Viipuri Library in Russia (1935) ©

3. Walter Gropius

Walter Adolph Georg Gropius (18 May 1883 – 05 July 1969) was born in the city of Berlin was a German architect and the founder of the Bauhaus School (1919). Along with this, he is also considered as one of the revolutionary masters of Modernist Architecture. The Bauhaus was the German “School of Building” that included elements of art, architecture, graphic design, interior design, and other similar fields in designing. He believed that all designs should be approached by first understanding the problems that need to be addressed and so he followed the modernist principle that functionality should dictate form.

Some of his famous works include:

  • The Fagus Factory, Germany, 1910
  • Sommerfeld House, Berlin, 1921
  • Bauhaus Building, Germany, 1925
  • Harvard Graduate Center, Cambridge, 1950
  • MetLife Building, New York, 1959
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Walter Gropius, the founder of Bauhaus School ©
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The Fagus Factory in Germany designed by Walter Gropius (1910) ©

4. Mies van der Rohe

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (27 March 1886 – 17 August 1969) was a German American architect and regarded as the pioneers of Modernist architecture amongst others. Mies’ careers began in the office of Peter Behrens, where he worked along with Le Corbusier and Walter Gropius. His minimalist style has been appreciated and used worldwide with his famous aphorism “Less is More” which is known to everyone. 

Mies was also the last director of the Bauhaus until the Nazis shut it down in 1933. His architecture promotes the dissolution between the interior and exterior spaces and called his buildings “skin and bones” architecture due to the minimal use of materials.

Some of his famous works include:

  • Barcelona Pavilion, Spain, 1929
  • Villa Tugendhat, Czech Republic, 1930
  • Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago, 1950-56
  • Farnsworth House, Illinois, 1951
  • Seagram Building, Manhattan, 1954-58
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Mies Van Der Rohe with the model of Crown Hall ©
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Farnsworth House (1951), an important building of the Modernist Movement ©

5. Antoni Gaudi

Antoni Gaudi I Cornet (25 June 1852 – 10 June 1926) was a Catalan architect known to be a part of the Modernist Movement as well. His distinctive style is characterized by freedom of form, voluptuous use of colors, and texture along with organic unity inspired by nature. He spent most of his career in the designing and construction of the church Sagrada Familia, which yet remained unfinished at his death in 1926. Gaudi’s work is an exceptional blend of various movements of the 19th century like the Arts and Crafts Movement, Symbolism, Expressionism, and Rationalism. 

Some of his famous works include:

  • La Sagrada Familia, Barcelona, 1882-unfinished
  • Casa Batllo, Barcelona, 1906
  • Casa Mila, Barcelona, 1912
  • Church of Colonia Guell, Barcelona, 1912
  • Astorga Episcopal Palace, Spain, 1915
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Portrait of Antoni Gaudi ©
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The grand Sagrada Familia, which was started by Antoni Gaudi but remained unfinished due to his sudden death in 1926 ©

6. Louis Kahn

Louis Isadore Kahn (05 March 1901 – 17 March 1974) was an American architect based in Philadelphia. He was known for blending Modernism with the dignity of ancient monuments. Kahn created a style that involved designing heavy buildings as they do not hide their weight, materials, or the way they were assembled. 

Some of his famous works include:

  • National Building Assembly of Dhaka, Bangladesh, 1962-83
  • Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, 1962
  • Salk Institute, California, 1965
  • Phillips Exeter Academy Library and Dining Hall, New Hampshire, 1972
  • Kimbell Art Museum, Texas, 1972
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Louis Kahn in a work mode ©
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Kimbell Art Museum, Texas (1972) ©

7. Frank Lloyd Wright

Frank Lloyd Wright (08 June 1867 – 09 April 1959) was an American architect and designer who designed over 1,000 structures in 70 years. Wright believed that designing should be done in harmony with humanity and its surrounding environment, and this philosophy he called ‘Organic Architecture’. He devoted his life to creating a total aesthetic that would help enhance society’s well being and believed that architecture is not just about buildings but about sustaining the lives of those within those structures. It was because of such philosophies that he was named “The Greatest American Architect of all time” by AIA.

Some of his famous works include:

  • Unity Temple, Chicago, 1908
  • Robie House, 1910
  • Taliesin, Wisconsin, 1911
  • Falling Waters, Pennsylvania, 1935
  • Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, 1959
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Portrait of Frank Lloyd Wright ©
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FL Wright’s most appreciated building, The Falling Waters (1935) ©

8. Santiago Calatrava

Santiago Calatrava Valls (28 July 1951 – Present) is a Spanish architect, engineer, and sculptor who is known for his bridge designs which are supported by single pylons. Santiago gained popularity for his expertise to blend advanced engineering solutions with dramatic visual statements in his designs. For him, nature served as a design guide which inspired him to design structures reflecting natural shapes and rhythms. 

Some of his famous works include:

  • Milwaukee Art Museum, Wisconsin, 1982
  • City of Arts and Sciences, Spain, 2009
  • Turning Torso, Sweden, 2012
  • Peace Bridge, Calgary, 2012
  • World Trade Center Oculus, New York, 2016
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Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava ©
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World Trade Center Oculus, New York (2016) ©

9. Oscar Niemeyer

Oscar Ribeiro de Almeida Niemeyer Soares Filho (15 December 1907 – 05 December 2012) was a Brazilian architect considered to be one of the foremost figures in Modernist Architecture. Even though he was never a scholar, his freeform, flowing lines were always accurate. Niemeyer’s goal was straightforward, “Give beauty to the World”, and he did so. Along with Le Corbusier, he contributed to the design for the United Nations Headquarters in New York. He is mostly known for his works done in the city of Brasilia when he was invited by Brazil’s new President in 1956. He also received the Pritzker Architecture Prize in 1988.

Some of his famous works include:

  • Alvorada Palace, Brazil, 1958
  • National Congress Building, Brazil, 1960
  • Cathedral of Brasilia, Brazil, 1970
  • Niteroi Contemporary Art Museum, Brazil, 1996
  • Oscar Niemeyer Museum, Brazil, 2002
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Portrait of architect Oscar Niemeyer ©
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The Cathedral of Brasilia (1970) ©

10. Philip Johnson

Philip Cortelyou Johnson (08 July 1906 – 25 January 2005) was an American architect who was recognized for his Modern and Post-modern architecture. Johnson was the first architect to have received the Pritzker Prize in 1979. He considered Mies Van der Rohe his mentor with whom he worked on some projects and was highly inspired by his ideologies. This can be seen in the design of his residence, the Glass House, which reflects similar elements as those in Mies’ Farnsworth House. 

Some of his famous works include:

  • Glass House, Connecticut, 1949
  • Amon Carter Museum of American Art, 1961
  • David H. Koch Theater, New York, 1964
  • 550 Madison Avenue, Manhattan, 1984
  • Chapel of St. Basil, Texas, 1997
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Architect Philip Johnson in front of his residence, The Glass House ©
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David H. Koch Theater by Philip Johnson in New York ©

11. Buckminster Fuller

Richard Buckminster Fuller (12 July 1895 – 01 July 1983) was a 20th-century architect, inventor, and visionary. He did not limit himself to one field but worked as a ‘comprehensive anticipatory design scientist’ to solve global problems. He evolved many new inventions in architectural designs, especially the famous Geodesic Dome. He used the phrase ‘Spaceship Earth’ to express the need for mankind to use teamwork to completely utilize Earth’s resources. 

Some of his famous works include:

  • Dymaxion House, Michigan, 1927
  • The Dymaxion Car, 1933
  • Geodesic Dome, Montreal, 1954
  • Buckminster Fuller’s Residence – Geodesic Dome, Illinois, 1960
  • Fly’s Eye Dome, 1965
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Buckminster Fuller with a model of his famous ‘Geodesic Dome’ ©
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Buckminster Fuller’s Montreal Biosphere (1954) ©

12. Zaha Hadid

Dame Zaha Mohammad Hadid (31 October 1950 – 31 March 2016) was an Iraqi-British architect who was famously known as the ‘Queen of the Curve’ for her exemplary designs. Hadid was also the first woman ever to win a Pritzker Award in 2004 as well as the Royal Gold Medal from RIBA in 2016. Her remarkable achievements were all the more extraordinary because she was working in an industry that was largely dominated by men. Her intensely futuristic architecture was characterized by curving facades, sharp angles, and usage of materials like concrete and metal. 

Some of her famous works include:

  • Guangzhou Opera House, China, 2010
  • The Riverside Museum, Glasgow, 2011
  • London Aquatics Center, London, 2011
  • Heydar Aliyev Centre, Azerbaijan, 2012
  • Galaxy Soho, Beijing, 2012
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Portrait of Zaha Hadid, the first woman architect to win the Pritzker Prize ©
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Heydar Aliyev Centre in Azerbaijan (2012) ©

13. Renzo Piano

Renzo Piano (14 September 1937 – Present) is an Italian architect, popular for his high-tech public spaces. His interest in technology and modern solutions to design problems was reflected in all his designs. He is an optimist, confident in the ability of buildings to embody good value systems and improve the lives of the people around them. Piano pays attention to the details and maximizes the use of natural light to retain a sense of delicateness in his massive structures.

Some of his famous works include:

  • The Centre Pompidou, Paris, 1977
  • The Menil Collection, Texas, 1986
  • The New York Times Building, Manhattan, 2004
  • Zentrum Paul Klee Museum, Switzerland, 2005
  • The Shard, London, 2009
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Architect Renzo Piano, known for his high-tech designs ©
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Centre Pompidou, Paris (1977) ©

14. I.M. Pei

Ieoh Ming Pei (26 April 1917 – 16 May 2019) was a Chinese American architect known for his large, elegantly designed urban buildings. His designs mostly represent an elaboration on the rectangular forms along with irregular silhouettes of the International Style. Pei used a skillful arrangement of various geometric shapes contrasting materials and surfaces. 

Some of his famous works include:

  • John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston, 1979
  • Le Grand Louvre, Paris, 1989
  • Bank of China Tower, Hong Kong, 1990
  • Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Cleveland, 1995
  • Museum of Islamic Art, Qatar, 2008
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Portrait of the Chinese American architect I.M. Pei ©
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The famous Louvre Museum designed by I.M. Pei in Paris ©

15. Jean Nouvel

Jean Nouvel (12 August 1945 – Present) is a French architect who attempts to design each of his projects without any preconceived beliefs. His projects typically demonstrate a delicate play of light and shadow along with a harmonious balance with its surroundings. He was awarded the prestigious Pritzker Prize in 2008 for his bold and experimental designs that defy a general characterization.

Some of his famous works include:

  • Torre Agbar, Barcelona, 2004
  • Arab World Institute, Paris, 1987
  • 100 Eleventh Avenue, New York, 2010
  • Philharmonie de Paris, France, 2015
  • The Louvre, Abu Dhabi, 2017
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French architect Jean Nouvel ©
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Interior View of The Louvre, Abu Dhabi (2017) ©

16. Rem Koolhaas

Remment Lucas Koolhaas (17 November 1944 – Present) is a Dutch architect who is referred to as the ‘Godfather of Contemporary Architecture’. He is known to have designed striking structures that often defy gravity. Koolhaas created an architecture that best utilized modern technology and materials and did not establish a constant look for his projects. It is rightly said that his buildings, like his books, are manifestos. 

Some of his famous works include:

  • Seattle Central Library, Washington, 2004
  • Casa da Musica, Portugal, 2005
  • One Madison, New York, 2010
  • CCTV Headquarters, Beijing, 2012
  • Galleria in Gwanggyo, South Korea, 2020 
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Architect Rem Koolhaas sitting in his OMA office ©
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Seattle Central Library designed by Rem Koolhaas (2004) ©

17. Sir Norman Foster

Norman Robert Foster (01 June 1935 – Present) is an English architect known for his innovative structural designs all around the world. His modern designs are usually made in steel and glass with innovations in contouring and inner space management. According to Foster, “Architecture is a balancing act of integrating and somehow responding to all the needs of a project: material and measurable; as well as the spiritual and intangible, the subjective; it is somehow about making all those value judgments”. 

Some of his famous works include:

  • Queen Elizabeth II Great Court, London, 2000
  • City Hall, London, 2002
  • The Gherkin (30 St Mary Axe), London, 2003
  • Hearst Tower, New York, 2006
  • Apple Park, US, 2017
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Sir Norman Foster in his office ©
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Aerial view of the Apple Park in California ©

18. Tadao Ando

Tadao Ando (13 September 1941 – Present) is a Japanese self-taught architect who is highly regarded for his unparalleled work with materials like concrete with a sensitive treatment of natural light and interaction with nature. His version of modernism echoes traditional concepts of Japanese architecture and hence he is referred to as ‘Critical Regionalist’. One of the characteristic features of his designs is the wall smoothness, which he achieves by varnishing the formwork before pouring the concrete. 

Some of his famous works include:

  • Chapel on the Water, Japan, 1988
  • Church of Light, Japan, 1989
  • Osaka Culturarium at Tempozan, Japan, 1994
  • 4×4 House, Japan, 2003
  • Chichu Art Museum, Japan, 2004
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Portrait of Japanese architect Tadao Ando ©
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Interior view of the Church of Light in Japan (1989) ©

19. Frank Gehry

Frank Owen Gehry (28 February 1929 – Present) is a Canadian-born American architect who is appreciated for his use of bold, postmodern shapes and unusual fabrications. His selection of materials such as corrugated metal lends some of Gehry’s designs an unfinished or even crude aesthetic. Gehry sees the world as a clash of thoughts represented through buildings, music, and art that is not properly expressed through the simplicity of neat, clean squares of Modernism.

Some of his famous works include:

  • Olympic Fish Pavilion, Barcelona, 1992
  • Dancing House, Prague, 1996
  • Guggenheim Bilbao, Spain, 1997
  • NeuerZollhof, Germany, 1999
  • Walt Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles, 2003
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Frank Gehry with his projects’ models ©
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The Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles (2003) ©

20. B.V. Doshi

Balkrishna Vithaldas Doshi (26 August 1927 – Present) is an Indian architect and a pioneer of modernist and brutalist architecture in India. He is also the first Indian architect to receive the Pritzker Prize in 2018. Keeping in mind India’s traditions, lifestyle, and environment, he designed structures that offered refuge from the harsh weather conditions and provided spaces for gatherings. Doshi also worked with eminent architects like Le Corbusier and Louis Kahn. Doshi developed an approach that oscillates between industrialism and primitivism, between modern architecture and traditional form. 

Some of his famous works include:

  • Aranya Low-Cost Housing, Indore, 1982
  • Amdavad Ni Gufa, Ahmedabad, 1994
  • School of Architecture, CEPT, Ahmedabad, 1966
  • Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore, 1992
  • LIC Housing, Ahmedabad, 1973
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Portrait of Indian architect B.V. Doshi ©
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Amdavad Ni Gufa, a famous project designed by architect B.V. Doshi ©



A recent graduate who is always looking for creative opportunities and has a strong passion for writing. She is also a firm believer that in times like today, we as architects must show our creativity not by demolishing old structures, but rather adopting the old ones with new uses.

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