Famous Architects of Our Time

By | December 27, 2013

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The AIA Gold medal is a symbol of architectural design excellence over a lifetime of work. This list of the most recent 21 winners represents the best architectural minds of our time. Their work has transformed and defined today’s built environment.

Architects appear in order of the year that they won the award, followed by their name and year of birth (death,) and place of birth. Though it is extremely difficult to narrow the work of these masters to only a single project, space has limited me to attempting just that. All of these architects deserve further investigation by anyone that is truly interested in studying contemporary architecture.

1990 E. Fay Jones, FAIA (1921-2004) Pine Bluff, AK.

Taliesen fellow. First Dean of University of Arkansas School of Architecture, now called the Fay Jones School of Architecture. Project indicative of work: Thorncrown Chapel, Eureka Springs, Arkansas.

1991 Charles W. Moore, FAIA (1921-1993) Benton Harbor, MI.

Dean, Yale University Department of Architecture. 1989 recipient of the AIA Topaz Medallion for excellence in architecture education. Credited as one of the founders of Postmodern Architecture. Project indicative of work: Piazza d’Italia, New Orleans, LA.

1992 Benjamin Thompson, FAIA (1918-2002) St. Paul, MN.

Renowned urban designer. Promoted humanist architecture and design. Project indicative of work: Faneuil Hall Marketplace, Boston, MA

1993 Kevin Roche, FAIA (1922-); Dublin, Ireland.

Continued the work of Eero Saarinin after his death. Projects designed with equal attention to exterior and interior space. Project indicative of work: Oakland Museum, Oakland, Ca.

1994 Sir Norman Foster, Hon. FAIA (1935-) Manchester, England.

Winner of more than 50 awards and prizes for architecture and design including twice winning the RIBA Stirling prize, the RIBA Royal Gold Medal, and the Pritzker Prize. Knighted in 1990. Often designs modular sections for projects that are fabricated off site. Project indicative of work: Willis Faber Dumas building, Ipswich, UK.

1995 César Pelli, FAIA (1926-) Tucuman, Argentina.

Winner of more than 100 awards for design excellence. Known for design of public spaces and skyscrapers. Project indicative of work: Petronas Towers, Kuala Lampur, Malaysia.

1997 Richard Meier, FAIA (1934-) Newark, NJ.

Known for using white metal panels and glass in building facades. Winner of Pritzker Prize and RIBA Gold Medal. Project indicative of work: Getty Center, Los Angelas, CA.

1999 Frank Gehry, FAIA (1929-) Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Known for sculptural forms, often covered with metal plates. Project indicative of work: Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, Bilbao, Spain.

2000 Ricardo Legorreta, Hon. FAIA (1931-) Mexico City, Mexico.

Known for “earth integrated” approach to buildings, with respect to traditional Latin American architecture. Project indicative of work: Metropolitan Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception

2001 Michael Graves, FAIA (1934-) Indianapolis, IN.

Known for Postmodern style. In addition to Architecure, Graves designs a line of home furnishings and appliances for retailer Target, Inc. A 2003 spinal cord infection left Graves paralyzed from the waist down and wheelchair bound. He has since dedicated himself to improving life for those with physical challenges through his designs. Project indicative of work: Portland Public Service Building.

2002 Tadao Ando, Hon. FAIA (1941-) Osaka, Japan.

Known for working in primarily reinforced concrete. Deep respect for both client and environment. Project indicative of work: Rokko Housing, Kobe, Japan.

2004 Samuel “Sambo” Mockbee, FAIA (1944-2001) Meridian, MS.

Known for projects that champion the underprivileged, especially in rural southern United States. Project indicative of work: Barton House, Madison County MS.

2005 Santiago Calatrava, FAIA (1951-) Valencia, Spain.

Known for structural style rooted in biology. Has designed many bridges as well as buildings. Project indicative of work: Milwakee Art Museum, Milwakee, Wi.

2006 Antoine Predock, FAIA (1936-) Lebanon, Mo.

Known for connecting building with landscape, with great attention to client. Project indicative of work: Turtle Creek House, Dallas, TX.

2007 Edward Larrabee Barnes,FAIA (1915-2004) Chicago, IL.

Known for both monumental forms and meticulous attention to detail, and for the fusion of modernism and vernacular. Project Indicative of Work: Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, Deer Isle, ME.

2008 Renzo Piano, Hon. FAIA (1937-) Genoa, Italy.

Known for philosophy of harnessing technology and material. Project indicative of work: Jean-Marie Tjibaou Cultural Centre, Noumea, New Caldonia.

2009 Glenn Marcus Murcutt, Hon. FAIA (1936-) London, England.

Known for producing small projects in tune with the environment. Project indicative of work: Magney House, Bingie Point, Moruya, Australia.

2010 Peter Q. Bohlin, FAIA (1937-) New York, NY.

Known for environmentally responsible buildings and collaborative design approach. Project indicative of work: Seattle City Hall, Seattle, Wa.

2011 Fumihiko Maki, Hon. FAIA (1928-) Tokyo, Japan

Known for combining abstract shapes and geometric forms into a collage of architecture. Project Indicative of work: Spiral Building -Wacol Company, Tokyo, Japan.

Note: The author has omitted 1993 gold medal winner Thomas Jefferson, not because he was not a worthy architect, but because his life span was not considered “of our time” per the intent of this article.


American Institute of Architects. (n.d.). The American Institute of Architects Gold Medal Award Recipients. Retrieved 02 16, 2011, from The American Institute of Architects: http://www.aia.org/practicing/awards/AIAB025046

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