The architecture of the 20th century is a collection of thought-provoking and encapsulating modernism which evolved in different forms across several parts of the world. Embodied styles such as expressionism, futurism, art deco, amalgamated during this time, with the innovative construction techniques and materials such as concrete, steel, and glass. Some architects steered this architectural style and presented some of the most groundbreaking projects as an example of functionality, minimalism, and unconventional design approach. Take a look at some of the most renowned 20th-century architects and their inspiring designs.

1. Alvar Aalto

Background: The Finnish born architect in the year 1898, was a pioneer in the field of modernism with some of the most noteworthy projects across the world in the domain of architecture, furniture, and glassware. After studying at the Helsinki University of Technology, the architect moved to Jyväskylä in 1923 starting his practice. However, he collaborated with architect Erik Bryggman in 1927 and moved to Turku until 1933 when he finally established himself in Helsinki. His work was acclaimed with the Prince Eugen Medal in 1954, the Royal Medal for Architecture by RIBA in 1957, Gold Medal from AIA in 1963 and was received an honorary doctorate from NTNU in 1960. Some of his most influential projects richly capture his design approach by use of local materials, integrated context, and functional materials.

Notable Projects: Viipuri Library, Paimio Sanatorium, Paimio, Finland, Villa Mairea in Noormarkku, and Baker House Dormitory in Cambridge.

Alvar Aalto - Sheet1
Alvar Aalto ©The Wall Street Journal
Alvar Aalto - Sheet2
Baker House Dormitory©Pinterest
Alvar Aalto - Sheet3
Baker House Dormitory©Wikimedia Commons
Alvar Aalto - Sheet4
Paimio Sanatorium ©Divisare
Alvar Aalto - Sheet5
Paimio Sanatorium ©Divisare
Alvar Aalto - Sheet6
Paimio Sanatorium©The Architectural Review
Alvar Aalto - Sheet7
Viipuri Library ©ArchDaily Viipuri Library ©Twitter
Alvar Aalto - Sheet8
Villa Mairea©Twitter
Alvar Aalto - Sheet9
Villa Mairea©Twitter
Alvar Aalto - Sheet10
Villa Mairea©Wikipedia

2. Aldo Rossi

Background: The Pritzker Prize-winning Italian architect had led a remarkable journey in the field of architecture with his contributions in architectural theory, urbanism, and influential design approach. After completing his architectural education at Politecnico di Milano in 1959, Rossi briefly collaborated with Ernesto Nathan Rogers for the magazine Casabella-continuita. Through later years, he taught at the School of urban planning in Arezzo, Institute of Architecture in Venice, and Politecnico di Milano. Beyond Europe, he also taught at Harvard, Yale, MIT, Cooper Union and Cornell, the most prestigious institutions in the United States. From the 1960s, Rossi excelled with his design projects in a joint effort with Salvatore Tarrago.

Notable Projects: Gallaratese Housing D Block in Milan, Quarter Schutzentrasse in Berlin, ComplessoResidenziale Monte Amiata in Milan, Cimitero Di San Cataldo in Modena illustrated his ability to amalgamate contextuality, sensibility, and urban culture.

Aldo Rossi - Sheet1
Aldo Rossi ©Architectuul
Aldo Rossi - Sheet2
Cimitero Di San Cataldo©Divisare
Aldo Rossi - Sheet3
Cimitero Di San Cataldo©Divisare
Aldo Rossi - Sheet4
ComplessoResidenziale Monte Amiata©Divisare
Aldo Rossi - Sheet5
Gallaratese Housing D Block ©Divisare
Aldo Rossi - Sheet6
Gallaratese Housing D Block©Architect Magazine
Aldo Rossi - Sheet7
Gallaratese Housing D Block©Divisare
Aldo Rossi - Sheet8
Quartier Schützenstrass©Gramho
Aldo Rossi - Sheet9
Quartier Schützenstrass©Gramho

3. Arthur Erickson

Background: Born in 1924, the Canadian architect had an enriching career. He studied at the University of British Columbia and McGill University. In 1953, he started his practice in association with Geoffrey Massey in Vancouver. They primarily designed residential buildings until their prolific design in 1963 for the Simon Fraser University located on Burnaby Mountain. However, he ended his partnership with Geoffrey in 1972 and went on to design projects such as the Museum of Anthropology in UBC and Robson Square. His work was awarded with a Gold Medal from the AIA in 1986, Companion of Order of Canada in 1981, Gold Medal from Royal Architectural Institute of Canada to name a few.

Notable Projects: Roy Thomson Hall in Toronto, McGaugh Hall at UC Irvine, and San Diego Convention center.

Arthur Erickson - Sheet1
Arthur Erickson ©Wikipedia
Arthur Erickson - Sheet2
McGaugh Hal at UC Irvine ©Flickr
Arthur Erickson - Sheet3
McGaugh Hal at UC Irvine ©Google Sites
Arthur Erickson - Sheet4
Museum of Anthropology at UBC ©Canadian Architect
Arthur Erickson - Sheet5
Robson Square©Pinterest
Arthur Erickson - Sheet6
Robson Square ©Pinterest
Arthur Erickson - Sheet7
San Diego Convention Center ©Flickr
Arthur Erickson - Sheet8
San Diego Convention Center ©Flickr
Arthur Erickson - Sheet9
San Diego Convention Center ©Flickr
Arthur Erickson - Sheet10
Simon Fraser University ©Shiksha Study Abroad
Arthur Erickson - Sheet11
Simon Fraser University©Shiksha Study Abroad

3. Balkrishna Vithaldas Doshi

Background: A pioneer in the field of architecture, the Pritzker Prize-winning architect, B V Doshi was born in 1927 in India. After studying at Sir J.J. School of Art in Mumbai, he went to Europe working closely with Le Corbusier on his projects in Paris from 1951-1954. He returned to India to oversee Corbusier’s projects Mill Owners Association Building and Villa Sarabhai in Ahmedabad. He started his practice in 1956, today is known as Vastushilpa Consultants. Nearly a hundred projects executed by him were residences, low-cost housing, institutional buildings, which resonated with his ideology of ‘architecture for the people’. Besides he worked with Louis Kahn and Anant Raje for IIM Ahmedabad Campus and M F Hussain for an underground art Gallery designed for him known as Amdavadni Gufa. He also founded and designed the Center for Environmental Planning and Technology in 1966.

Notable Projects: Premabhai Hall, Ahmedabad, IIM Bangalore, Shakti Bhawan, IFFCO Township in Kalol, Tagore Memorial Hall, and Sangath in Ahmedabad.

Balkrishna Vithaldas Doshi - Sheet1
Balkrishna-Doshi ©Britannica
Balkrishna Vithaldas Doshi - Sheet2
Amdavadni Gufa ©Archdaily
Balkrishna Vithaldas Doshi - Sheet3
Amdavadni Gufa ©Designboom
Balkrishna Vithaldas Doshi - Sheet4
CEPT University ©361degrees
Balkrishna Vithaldas Doshi - Sheet5
IIM Ahmedabad©Arch20
Balkrishna Vithaldas Doshi - Sheet6
IIM Bangalore ©Matter
Balkrishna Vithaldas Doshi - Sheet7
Life Insurance Corporation Housing ©Archdaily
Balkrishna Vithaldas Doshi - Sheet8
Balkrishna Vithaldas Doshi - Sheet9
Tagore Memorial Hall ©Dezeen
Balkrishna Vithaldas Doshi - Sheet10
Tagore Memorial Hall ©Divisare

5. Charles Correa

Background: The prominent architect was born in the year 1930 in Secunderabad. Upon his return from the United States for higher education, he began his career in Mumbai, 1958. Mahatma Gandhi Sangrahalaya in Ahmedabad, Madhya Pradesh Legislative Assembly, National Crafts Museum in New Delhi were some of his initial projects. However, as an Urban Planner, he designed Navi Mumbai from 1970-75 and founded Urban Design Research Institute in 1984 for improvement of urban environment and communities. His designs brought together the deep-rooted traditional attributes and modern design language with a climate-conscious approach.

Notable Projects:Kanchanjunga Apartments Mumbai, Jawahar Kala Kendra in Jaipur, British Council in New Delhi, Bharat Bhavan, Bhopal.

Charles Correa - Sheet1
Charles Correa ©Pinterest
Charles Correa - Sheet2
British Council, New Delhi ©Hnagouts
Charles Correa - Sheet3
Gandhi Sanghralya©Creative Yatra
Charles Correa - Sheet4
Gandhi Sanghralya©Flickr
Charles Correa - Sheet5
Jawahar Kala Kendra©Archeyes
Charles Correa - Sheet6
Jawahar Kala Kendra©Makemytrip
Charles Correa - Sheet7
Kanchanjunga Apartments ©Archdaily
Charles Correa - Sheet8
Madhya Pradesh Legislative Assembly ©

6. Eero Saarinen

Background: Son of Eliel Saarinen, an established and renowned architect, Eero was born in the year 1910 in Finland. Known for his neo-futuristic approach, Eero created note-worthy designs in the domain of furniture and architecture. After studying at Yale University in 1934, he traveled across Europe and Africa for nearly a year. He eventually joined his father’s firm primarily working on furniture design. In the year 1947, his design for St. Louis Gateway Arch was a winning entry, bringing his architectural work in the limelight. A blend of experimentation, exploration, and futuristic ideas made his work commendable.

Notable Projects: TWA Terminal, Washington DC’S Dulles International Airport, and General Motors Technical Center in Warren, Michigan

Eero Saarinen - Sheet1
Eero Saarinen ©
Eero Saarinen - Sheet2
Design Dome at General Motors Techincal Center ©Tweets by
Eero Saarinen - Sheet3
Dulles International Airport ©Archdaily
Eero Saarinen - Sheet4
Gateway Arch ©Archdaily
Eero Saarinen - Sheet5
Gateway Arch ©wikipedia
Eero Saarinen - Sheet6
General Motors Technical Center ©Motorcities National Heritage
Eero Saarinen - Sheet7
TWA Terminal ©Pinterest

7. Erich Mendelsohn

Background: Known as the Father of Streamline Moderne, the Jewish-German architect was born in 1887. Beginning his practice in Berlin, the Einstein Tower, Postdam was his first project which gathered immense discussion around its design. However, due to increasing tensions in the World War, he moved to England where he collaborated with Segre Chermayeff for the design of De La Warr Pavilion. He was commissioned during this period for hospital projects in Palestine. In the year 1941, he moved to the United States where he acted as an advisor to the government and designed projects, especially for the Jewish community. During his last years, he taught at the University of California, Berkeley.

Notable Projects: Park Synagogue, De La Warr Pavilion, and Einstein Tower, Postdam.

Erich Mendelsohn - Sheet1
Erich Mendelsohn©Wikipedia
Erich Mendelsohn - Sheet2
Spiral Staircase at De La Warr Bexhill©Britannica
Erich Mendelsohn - Sheet3
Park Synagogue ©Flickr.jpg
Erich Mendelsohn - Sheet5
Park Synagogue ©Arch- Texas A&M University
Erich Mendelsohn - Sheet4
Einstein Tower ©Flickr.jpg
Erich Mendelsohn - Sheet6
Einstein Tower ©Flickr.jpg
Erich Mendelsohn - Sheet7
De La Warr Pavilion ©Archdaily

8. Frank O. Gehry

Background:  The world-renowned, Pritzker Prize-winning Canadian architect was born in 1929. Gehry studied at the University of Southern California and briefly at Harvard Graduate School of Design. The deconstructivism style of architecture became his niche over the years. However, he initially worked with Victor Gruen Associates in Los Angeles and later for Andre Remondet where he critically studied works of Le Corbusier. He started his practice in 1960 and during the 1980s, he primarily designed residential projects in Southern California. While experimenting with spaces for his Santa Monica home, Gehry adapted a junk art approach with the use of unusual materials and techniques.

Notable Projects: Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, NationaleNederlanden Building in Prague and Experience Music Project in Seattle.

Frank O. Gehry - Sheet1
Frank Gehry ©
Frank O. Gehry - Sheet2
Guggenheim Muesum©archdaily
Frank O. Gehry - Sheet3
Lou Ruvo Center for Brain health ©wikipedia
Frank O. Gehry - Sheet4
Louis Vuitton Foundation ©Flickr
Frank O. Gehry - Sheet5
Louis Vuitton Foundation ©Flickr
Frank O. Gehry - Sheet6
Museum of Pop Culture ©atlas obscura

9. Frank Lloyd Wright

Background: Thearchitect who innovated the ‘Prairie style’ houses, was a pioneer in residential architecture with the eminent project in the United States. Learning from Louis Sullivan, Wright adhered to the ideology of ‘form follows function’. He extensively designed his projects including the interiors, fixtures, and fittings. His designs such as the Falling Water, Unity Temple, Guggenheim Museum, are exemplary projects that shifted from the conventional idea of enclosing spaces within four walls and encompassed dramatic horizontal lines and masses. His work was awarded with the RIBA gold medal, AIA gold medal, and Franklin Institute’s Frank P. Brown Medal.

Notable Projects: Falling Water, Robie House, Avery Coonley House, Unity Temple, Willtis House, Johnson Wax HQ, and Taliesin.

Frank Lloyd Wright - Sheet1
Frank Lloyd Wright ©Pinterest
Frank Lloyd Wright - Sheet2
Avery Coonley House ©flickr
Frank Lloyd Wright - Sheet3
Avery Coonley House ©Pinterest
Frank Lloyd Wright - Sheet4
Falling Water ©mental floss
Frank Lloyd Wright - Sheet5
Johnson Wax HQ ©SC Johnson
Frank Lloyd Wright - Sheet6
Robie Houses ©curbed
Frank Lloyd Wright - Sheet7
Unity Temple ©Archinet

10. Fazlur Khan

Background: The Bangladeshi- American architect and engineer was the innovator behind the structural system of skyscrapers. Born in 1929, Dhaka, he studied at the Bengal Engineering and Science University, Shibpur, and continued further studies at the University of Illinois Urbana with Fulbright Scholarship. In 1955, he joined Skidmore, Owings & Merrill in Chicago, and became a partner in 1966. Among many innovations, he came up with Tubular systems, Framed tube systems, Trussed Tube, and x- Bracing, the Bundled tube used in some of the most famous structures in the United States.

Notable Projects: DeWitt-Chestnut Apartments in Chicago, John Hancock Center in Chicago, Sears Tower in Chicago, Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis, and United States Air Force Academy in Colorado.

Fazlur Khan - Sheet1
Fazlur Khan ©India Today
Fazlur Khan - Sheet2
Dewitt Chestnut Apartments ©SOM
Fazlur Khan - Sheet3
Dewitt Chestnut Apartments ©SOM
Fazlur Khan - Sheet4
John Hancock Center ©Reddit
Fazlur Khan - Sheet5
One Magnificient Mile ©
Fazlur Khan - Sheet6
Sears Tower ©Archdaily

11. Geoffrey Bawa

Background: Famously known for hisblend of traditional Asian architecture with Contemporary style, Geoffrey Bawa was one of the most influential architects. Born and brought up in Ceylon, following the footsteps of his father, he went to Cambridge in 1938 to pursue Law. Unsure of his future in the legal profession, he traveled across East Asia, the United States, and Europe. He found his fascination with gardens and acquired architectural education later in 1957. In partnership with UlrikPlesner, he began his practice and continued working independently after 1967. The scale and nature of projects spanned across residential, commercial, institutional, and hospitality.

Notable Projects: The Lunuganga, Seema Malaka, Steel Corporation Office and Housing, Kandalama Hotel, and Sri-Lankan Parliament Complex.

Geoffrey Bawa - Sheet1
GeofferyBawa©Dailynews Archives
Geoffrey Bawa - Sheet2
Kandalama Hotel©GeofferyBawa Trust
Geoffrey Bawa - Sheet3
Kandalama Hotel©Mapplr
Geoffrey Bawa - Sheet4
Lunuganga Country Estate ©Agoda
Geoffrey Bawa - Sheet5
Lunuganga Country Estate ©Cylon Roots
Geoffrey Bawa - Sheet6
SriLankan Parliament Building ©Architectural Digest India
Geoffrey Bawa - Sheet7
Steel Corporation Office and Hosuing©Architectural Digest India
Geoffrey Bawa - Sheet8
Steel Corporation Office and Hosuing©Architectural Digest India

12. Hassan Fathy

Background: The Egyptian architect born in 1900 was a pioneer for modern Islamic architecture and the appropriate use of technology. He focused primarily on architecture for the poor with ancient design methods, materials, and sensibility. His deep-rooted consideration for history, need for Egyptian families, functionality, materials, and awareness were awarded Chairman’s Award by Aga Khan Foundation, and Gold medal by Union Internationale des Architectes in 1980 and 1984 respectively.

Notable Projects: New Gourna Village, Andreoli Residence in Cairo, Ceramics Factory in Qina and New Baris Village in Kharga, Egypt

Hassan Fathy - Sheet1
Hassan Fathy ©wikipedia
Hassan Fathy - Sheet2
Baris Village ©Archnet
Hassan Fathy - Sheet3
Baris Village ©Archnet
Hassan Fathy - Sheet4
Ceramic Factory ©Archnet
Hassan Fathy - Sheet5
Ceramic Factory ©Facebook
Hassan Fathy - Sheet6
Gourna Village ©World Monuments Fund
Hassan Fathy - Sheet7
Gourna Village ©World Monuments Fund

13. I M Pei

Background: The Pritzker Prize-winning architect is known for his outstanding projects such as the Glass Pyramid at Louvre, John Hancock Building in Boston, Boston Museum of Fine Arts to name a few. Born in China in 1917, he studied at MIT, Cambridge, and Harvard University, where he also taught briefly. After working for Webb & Knapp, he began his practice in 1955. He designed shortly, the groundbreaking projects like John F. Kennedy Memorial Library, National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. which brought him immense fame. A bold character of structure with contrasting material and surfaces, and juxtaposing forms became his design statement.

Notable Projects: Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, Bank of China Tower in Hong Kong, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston and Luce Memorial Chapel, Taichung.

I M Pei - Sheet1
I M Pei ©Archdaily
I M Pei - Sheet2
Luce Memorial Chapel ©Flickr
I M Pei - Sheet3
Luce Memorial Chapel ©Pinterest
I M Pei - Sheet4
Suzhou Museum ©Archdaily
I M Pei - Sheet5
The Bank of China ©Pinterest
I M Pei - Sheet6
The Glass Pyramid at Louvre ©World Architecture Community
I M Pei - Sheet7
The JFK Library and Museum ©Pinterest
I M Pei - Sheet8
The JFK Library and Museum ©Pinterest

14. Jorn Oberg Utzon

Background: Best known for the Sydney Opera House, JornUtzon was a Danish architect born in 1918.He studied at Copenhagen Royal Academy of Arts in 1942 and worked with architects Alvar Aalto, Gunnar Asplund, Arne Jacobsen, and Poul Henningsen. In 1957, Utzon won the design competition for Sydney Opera House, for which he moved to Australia. He designed important projects in Denmark, Kuwait, and Spain upon his return. He was awarded the Pritzker Prize in 2003 besides RAIA Gold Medal, Alvar Aalto Medal, Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement prior.

Notable Projects: Bagsværd Church near Copenhagen, The National Assembly Building in Kuwait, Can Feliz in Spain, and Utzon Center in Denmark.

Jorn Oberg Utzon - Sheet1
Jorn Oberg Utzon - Sheet2
Bagsvaerd Church©LA76 lifestyle and editorial photography
Jorn Oberg Utzon - Sheet3
Can Lis ©Designboom
Jorn Oberg Utzon - Sheet4
Kuwait National Assembly Building ©Flickr
Jorn Oberg Utzon - Sheet5
Sydney Opera House ©Archdaily
Jorn Oberg Utzon - Sheet6
Utzon Center ©Archeyes
Jorn Oberg Utzon - Sheet7
Utzon Center ©Archeyes

15. Kenzo Tange

Background: The Japanese architect was a visionary of modernism with astounding projects in Japan. His breakthrough came with winning the entry of Hiroshima Peace Center and Memorial Park in 1949. He designed several buildings in Japan such as Kagawa Prefectural Government Hall and Yoyogi National Gymnasium. Kenzo was commissioned for the Supreme court of Pakistan in 1965, Overseas Bank in Singapore, and the American Medical Association Building in Chicago. He was awarded the Pritzker Prize in 1987, the RIBA gold medal in 1965, and the AIA Gold medal in 1966.

Notable Projects: Tokyo Olympic Arena, Kuwait Embassy in Japan, Shizuoka Tower, and Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum and Park.

Kenzo Tange - Sheet1
Kenzo Tange©Famous Architects
Kenzo Tange - Sheet2
Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum ©wikiarquitectura
Kenzo Tange - Sheet3
Kagawa Prefectural Gymnasium ©Pinterest
Kenzo Tange - Sheet4
Mode Gakuen Cocoon Tower ©Archdaily
Kenzo Tange - Sheet5
Shizuoka Tower ©Flickr

Aditi Sharma is an architect, researcher and amateur photographer based in Mumbai. Through RTF she is expressing her ardent thoughts in the domain of culture, history, gender, and architecture.