Famous Architects, Designers, and Inventors Born in April

Architects from A to Z

Ornate pyramid tower atop the LA Public Library designed by Goodhue
Ornate Pyramid Tower Atop the LA Public Library Designed by Goodhue. Photo © Michael Jiroch, MikeJiroch via Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Were you born in April? Then you may share a birthday with one of these great architects and designers.

April 1

David Childs Presents Yet Another Design in 2005 for 1 World Trade Center Building
David Childs Presents Yet Another Design in 2005 for 1 World Trade Center Building. Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images News Collection/Getty Images (cropped)

David Childs (1941 - )
If this Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) architect taught us anything about the architecture profession in the 21st century it's that a lot of an architect's time is spent in preparation, presentation, convincing, advocating, and cajoling. The results are often a more beautiful place to live and work. Manhattan is one such place, in part because of David Childs.

Learn more in this short profile of Childs >>

April 13

Painting of Thomas Jefferson
Painting of Thomas Jefferson. Photo by Stock Montage/Archive Photos/Getty Images (cropped)

Thomas Jefferson (1743 - 1826)
He wrote the Declaration of Independence and became the third President of the United States. But around here we think of Thomas Jefferson as a gentleman architect and a Founding Father of Neoclassical architecture in America.

Thomas Jefferson the Architect, Facts and Photos >

April 15

Collage of daVinci, Mona Lisa, and Vitruvian Man
Collage of daVinci, Mona Lisa, and Vitruvian Man. Image courtesy Caroline Purser/Photographer's Choice Collection/Getty Images (cropped)

Leonardo da Vinci (1452 - 1519)
Have you ever wondered why home builders and architects love symmetry—having two windows on either side of a door just looks right. Perhaps it's because we design in our own image, imitating the symmetry of the human body. Leonardo's notebooks and his famous drawing of the Vitruvian Man refamiliarized us with geometry and architecture.

Learn more about Leonardo's Last Years >

Norma Sklarek (1926 - 2012)
She may not have set out to be a pioneer for women in the architecture profession, but ultimately she broke barriers for all professional women of color.

Learn more about the life and times of Norma Sklarek >>

April 18

Shiny discs on Selfridges store, blobitecture in Birmingham, England
Exterior of Selfridges Store, Birmingham, England designed by Jan Kaplický's Future Systems. Photo by Andreas Stirnberg/Stone Collection/Getty Images

Jan Kaplický (1937 - 2009)
Most of us know the work of Czech-born Jan Kaplický through Microsoft Windows—one of the most startling images included as a computer desktop background is the shiny-disc façade of Selfridges department store in Birmingham, England. Welsh-born architect Amanda Levete, Kaplický, and their architectural firm, Future Systems, completed the iconic blobitecture structure in 2003. The New York Times reported that "his inspirations for the store included a Paco Rabanne plastic dress, a fly's eye and a 16th-century church."

Read more in The New York Times, "Jan Kaplicky, Audacious Czech Architect, Is Dead at 71" by Douglas Martin, January 26, 2009.

April 19

Architect Jacques Herzog, bald white man with long thin face
Architect Jacques Herzog in 2013. Photo by Sergi Alexander ©2013 Getty Images/Getty Images Entertainment Collection/Getty Images (cropped)

Jacques Herzog (1950 - )

Swiss architect Jacques Herzog has long been associated with his boyhood friend and business partner Pierre de Meuron. In fact, together they were awarded the 2001 Pritzker Architecture Prize. Since 1978, Herzon & de Meuron has become an inter-continental architectural firm, with one of their most popular creations being the Bird's Nest stadium for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China.

More about Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron >

April 22

White, middle aged man, British architect James Stirling, winner of the 1981 Pritzker Prize
Pritzker Prize winning UK architect James Stirling c. 1991. Photo ©Gorupdebesanez via Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attr Share Alike 3.0 Unported (cropped)

James Stirling (1926 - 1992)
When the Scottish-born architect became only the third Pritzker Laureate, James Frazer Stirling accepted the 1981 prize by saying "...for me, right from the beginning the 'art' of architecture has always been the priority. That's what I trained to do...." Stirling first gained prominence in the 1960s with his airy, glass university buildings, namely the Leicester University Engineering Building (1963) and the History Faculty Building at Cambridge University (1967).

"Neither James Stirling nor his buildings were ever precisely what you expected," said art critic Paul Goldberger, "and that was forever his glory. Stirling....did not look like an architect of international renown: he was overweight, spoke awkwardly, and tended to shuffle about in a uniform of dark suits, blue shirts and Hush Puppies. Yet his buildings dazzle."

Read Paul Goldberger's retrospective, James Stirling Made an Art Form of Bold Gestures in The New York Times, July 19, 1992 [accessed April 8, 214]

April 26

Portrait of Frederick Law Olmsted, c. 1880
Portrait of Frederick Law Olmsted, c. 1880. Photo by MPI/Archive Photos Collection/Getty Images (cropped)

Frederick Law Olmsted (1822 - 1903)
"Preserving wild places is different from crafting urban spaces," asserts Olmsted biographer Justin Martin in Genius of Place (2011), "and it's a vital Olmsted role that is often overlooked." Frederick Law Olmsted was more than the Father of Landscape Architecture—he was also one of America's first environmentalists.

Ieoh Ming Pei (1917 - )
Chinese-born I.M. Pei may be best known in Europe for the Louvre Pyramid that shocked all of Paris. In the U.S. the Pritzker Laureate has become part of the fabric of American architecture—and forever loved for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, Ohio.

I.M. Pei Facts and Photos >

Peter Zumthor (1943 - )
Like Jacques Herzog, Zumthor is Swiss, born in April, and has won a Pritzker Architecture Prize. The comparisons may end there. Peter Zumthor creates designs without the spotlight.

April 28

Ornate pyramid tower atop the LA Public Library designed by Goodhue
Ornate Pyramid Tower Atop the LA Public Library Designed by Goodhue. Photo © Michael Jiroch, MikeJiroch via Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue (1869 - 1924)
Lacking formal architectural training, Goodhue apprenticed under one of the most noted 19th century American architects, James Renwick, Jr. (1818–1895). Goodhue's interest in artistic details combined with Renwick's influence for building solid, public venues gave the United States some of its most interesting turn-of-the-century architecture. Bertram Goodhue might be an unknown name to the casual observer, but his influence on American architecture is still visible.

April 30

Gothic-style dorms on Duke's west campus, designed 1938 by Julian Abele
Gothic-style dorms on Duke's west campus, designed 1938 by Julian Abele. Gothic-style dorms on Duke's west campus, designed 1938 by Julian Abele. Photo by Bluedog423 via Wikimedia Commons, released into the public domain.

Julian Abele (1881 - 1950)
Some sources put Abele's birth date as April 29, which, for an African-American born so soon after the American Civil War, would not be the only slight Abele would endure in his lifetime. The highly-educated Julian Abele allowed the Philadelphia office of the less-educated Horace Trumbauer to thrive, even during the Great Depression. The establishment of Duke University had a lot to do with the firm's prosperity.