At the crossroads of math, creativity and engineering - many American Architects have created masterpieces that will echo through time, some landmarks celebrated to this day. In this post we will list the most famous American Architects and their creations.
FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT
Probably one of the most famous Architects to ever live, was an American architect, designer, writer, and educator. He designed more than 1,000 structures over a creative period of 70 years. Wright believed in designing in harmony with humanity and the environment, a philosophy he called organic architecture. This philosophy was exemplified in Fallingwater (1935), which has been called "the best all-time work of American architecture". Wright played a key role in the architectural movements of the twentieth century, influencing architects worldwide through his works and hundreds of apprentices in his Taliesin Fellowship.
Wright was the pioneer of what came to be called the Prairie School movement of architecture and also developed the concept of the Usonian home in Broadacre City, his vision for urban planning in the United States. He also designed original and innovative offices, churches, schools, skyscrapers, hotels, museums, and other commercial projects. Wright-designed interior elements (including leaded glass windows, floors, furniture and even tableware) were integrated into these structures. He wrote several books and numerous articles and was a popular lecturer in the United States and in Europe. Wright was recognized in 1991 by the American Institute of Architects as "the greatest American architect of all time". In 2019, a selection of his work became a listed World Heritage Site as The 20th-Century Architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright.
Destroyed Wright buildings
Imperial Hotel, Tokyo (1923)
Wright designed over 400 built structures of which about 300 survive as of 2005. At least five have been lost to forces of nature: the waterfront house for W. L. Fuller in Pass Christian, Mississippi, destroyed by Hurricane Camille in August 1969; the Louis Sullivan Bungalow of Ocean Springs, Mississippi, destroyed by Hurricane Katrina in 2005; and the Arinobu Fukuhara House (1918) in Hakone, Japan, destroyed in the 1923 Great Kantō earthquake. In January 2006, the Wilbur Wynant House in Gary, Indiana was destroyed by fire.In 2018 the Arch Oboler complex in Malibu, California was gutted in the Woolsey Fire.
Notable Wright buildings intentionally demolished: Midway Gardens (built 1913, demolished 1929), the Larkin Administration Building (built 1903, demolished 1950), the Francis Apartments and Francisco Terrace Apartments (Chicago, built 1895, demolished 1971 and 1974, respectively), the Geneva Inn (Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, built 1911, demolished 1970), and the Banff National Park Pavilion (built 1914, demolished 1934). The Imperial Hotel (built 1923) survived the 1923 Great Kantō earthquake, but was demolished in 1968 due to urban developmental pressures. The Hoffman Auto Showroom in New York City (built 1954) was demolished in 2013.
Unbuilt, or built after Wright's death
The unbuilt Crystal Heights project in Washington, D.C.
Crystal Heights, a large mixed-use development in Washington, D.C., 1940 (unbuilt)
The Illinois, mile-high tower in Chicago, 1956 (unbuilt)
Monona Terrace, convention center in Madison, Wisconsin, designed 1938–1959, built in 1997
Clubhouse at the Nakoma Golf Resort, Plumas County, California, designed in 1923; opened in 2000
Passive Solar Hemi-Cycle Home in Hawaii, designed in 1954, built in 1995; only Wright home in Hawaii
LOUIS HENRY SULLIVAN
Sometimes named the Father of Skyscrapers and "father of modernism". He was an influential architect of the Chicago School, a mentor to Frank Lloyd Wright, and an inspiration to the Chicago group of architects who have come to be known as the Prairie School. Along with Wright and Henry Hobson Richardson, Sullivan is one of "the recognized trinity of American architecture". The phrase "form follows function" is attributed to him, although he credited the concept to ancient Roman architect Vitruvius. In 1944, Sullivan was the second architect to posthumously receive the AIA Gold Medal.
Coining the architecture philosophy “form follows function,” Sullivan designed structures that matched their purpose. This mentality took effect through building upward rather than outward to add in more living areas, offices and commercial spaces to tightly-packed urban areas. Some of Sullivan’s iconic works include the Chicago Stock Exchange, the Wainwright Building in St. Louis and the Guaranty Building in Buffalo. With his philosophy breaking away from much of architectural tradition, Sullivan’s career helped pave the way for modernism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Daniel Hudson Burnham, (September 4, 1846 – June 1, 1912) was an American architect and urban designer. A proponent of the Beaux-Arts movement, he may have been, "the most successful power broker the American architectural profession has ever produced."
Burnham had a major hand in the redevelopment of Chicago following the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. There he designed some of the world’s first true skyscrapers, including the Montauk Building and the Masonic Temple Building. Burnham also designed the iconic Flatiron Building at Madison Square in New York City, as well as Union Station in Washington, D.C. His company with partner John Root, Burnham and Root, become one of the most famous architectural firms of the 19th century.
ROBERT ROBINSON TAYLOR
Robert Robinson Taylor (June 8, 1868 – December 13, 1942) was an American architect and educator. Taylor was the first African-American student enrolled at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the first accredited African-American architect when he graduated in 1892. He was an early and influential member of the Tuskegee Institute faculty.
A native of Wilmington, North Carolina, Taylor remained in architectural practice in the American South for over forty years. He designed many of the early buildings of the Tuskegee Institute, and at several other Historically black colleges and universities. As second-in-command to Booker T. Washington, the Tuskegee Institute's founder, Taylor was instrumental in both campus planning and inventing the school's industrial curriculum.
NORMA MERRICK SKLAREK
Norma Merrick Sklarek (April 15, 1926 – February 6, 2012) was the first African American woman to pass her license exam to officially become an architect in both New York (1954) and California (1962). Sklarek is most recognized for designing the United States Embassy in Tokyo, Japan in 1976 and the Terminal One station at the Los Angeles International Airport in 1984.After designing several buildings, she became the first black woman to own her own architectural practice with two women Margot Siegel and Katherine Diamond from 1985-1989. She earned the nickname "The Rosa Parks of Architecture" from Author Anna M Lewis for her major accomplishments as a black woman in a male dominanted field and continued to be a voice for women who were likely to face discrimination in certain careers.
Jeanne Gang (born March 19, 1964) is an American architect and the founder and leader of Studio Gang (established in 1997), an architecture and urban design practice with offices in Chicago, New York, and San Francisco. Gang was first widely recognized for the Aqua Tower,the second tallest woman-designed building in the world. Aqua was surpassed in 2021 by the nearby St. Regis Chicago, also of her design. Surface has called Gang one of Chicago's most prominent architects of her generation, and her projects have been widely awarded.
WILLIAM F. LAMB
Born in New York City, William F. Lamb would go on to design the NYC skyline’s most iconic component.
Lamb earned a diploma from the esteemed École des Beaux Arts in Paris before returning to New York, where he eventually became a partner in the architectural firm Shereve, Lamb and Harmon. Lamb was the principal designer of the Empire State Building, which stood as the world’s tallest building for almost 40 years. The building’s height, observation decks and cultural legacy, such as being featured in the original King Kong film, have made Lamb’s skyscraper one of the most popular tourist attractions in the world.
FREDERICK LAW OLMSTED
Frederick Law Olmsted (April 26, 1822 – August 28, 1903) was an American landscape architect, journalist, social critic, and public administrator. He was the father of American landscape architecture. Olmsted was famous for co-designing many well-known urban parks with his partner Calvert Vaux. Olmsted and Vaux's first project was Central Park, which resulted in many other urban park designs, including Prospect Park in New York City and Cadwalader Park in Trenton. He headed the pre-eminent landscape architecture and planning consultancy of late nineteenth-century America, which was carried on and expanded by his sons, Frederick Jr and John C, under the name Olmsted Brothers.
Other projects that Olmsted was involved in include the country's first and oldest coordinated system of public parks and parkways in Buffalo, New York; the country's oldest state park, the Niagara Reservation in Niagara Falls, New York; one of the first planned communities in the United States, Riverside, Illinois; Mount Royal Park in Montreal, Quebec; The Institute of Living in Hartford, Connecticut; Waterbury Hospital in Waterbury, Connecticut; the Emerald Necklace in Boston, Massachusetts; Highland Park in Rochester, New York; Michigan; the Grand Necklace of Parks in Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Cherokee Park and entire parks and parkway system in Louisville, Kentucky; Walnut Hill Park in New Britain, Connecticut; the George Washington Vanderbilt II Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina; the master plans for the University of California, Berkeley, the University of Maine, and Stanford University near Palo Alto, California, as well as for The Lawrenceville School; and Montebello Park in St. Catharines, Ontario. In Chicago his projects include: Jackson Park; Washington Park; the main park ground for the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition; the south portion of Chicago's "emerald necklace" boulevard ring; and the University of Chicago campus. In Washington, D.C., he worked on the landscape surrounding the United States Capitol building.
The quality of Olmsted's landscape architecture was recognized by his contemporaries, who showered him with prestigious commissions. Daniel Burnham said of him, "He paints with lakes and wooded slopes; with lawns and banks and forest-covered hills; with mountainsides and ocean views ..."His work, especially in Central Park, set a standard of excellence that continues to influence landscape architecture in the United States. He was an early and important activist in the conservation movement, including work at Niagara Falls; the Adirondack region of upstate New York; and the National Park system; and though little known, played a major role in organizing and providing medical services to the Union Army in the Civil War.