Who are the World's Most Creative Architects?

The Genius of Starchitects and Other Creative People

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)

Who's designing the most most interesting and unusual buildings today?Fast Company raised the question back in 2009, and the architects they selected have continued to win accolades. The top picks are:

    Pictured here is one of these designers, Swiss-born Jacques Herzog. He's one of the masterminds behind Beijing's Bird's Next Stadium at the 2008 Olympics and, more recently, that crazy Jenga-looking condo tower at 56 Leonard Street in New York City. He does make a point with his unusual designs.

    But here's another question: Does architecture have to be unusual before it can be considered great? The Pritzker Prize jury doesn't think so, but they have their own agenda.

    Are Starchitects Real Architects?

    The 21st Century has created a new word—starchitect describes the "star" popularity, or celebrity, of a working architect. Like one-named rock-stars, Gehry has become the Madonna of the building world; Foster is like Adele. Herzog de Meuron, the names of two people, is considered one name.

    When coming up with a list of the "ten most creative" anything, the critic has not reviewed every work by everyone—the pundit doesn't even know everyone.

    Being well-known certainly gives you a better opportunity for being on a top 10 list, but being on a list doesn't mean you're the "most" anything.

    Most of the people on Fast Company's list are household names in the architecture community. They are starchitects, the rock stars of their profession. Achieving this status allows them to hire more people, diversify, and become huge, international organizations.

    They will get more opportunities and commissions. They will attract creative people to augment their own powers. Yes, starchitects are real architects, with benefits.

    The Benefits of Being a Starchitect:

    Norman Foster gave us some insight into his own brand of starchitecture in a 2008 interview with Vladimir Belogolovskiy. The 73-year-old British-born architect said he didn't outright own his company anymore, but had a "very substantial shareholding." He went on to describe who actually was doing the work under the name Foster + Partners:

    "You know, every morning I have meetings from a few minutes to half an hour so in one morning, one way or another, I could easily scan ten projects. So, in a week I could easily scan 50 to 70 projects. And I am probably in three different places around the world in a typical week."

    Meetings and travel—just like a rock star.

    Source: Lord Norman Foster. Interview by Vladimir Belogolovskiy, 30.06.2008, www.archi.ru [accessed June 1, 2015]

    Be a Starchitect:

    The BuzzFeed Community has a very fun activity called Which Starchitect Are You? Try it out. It's easier than becoming a real starchitect.

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