At least one of Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill’s (SOM) recent projects garnered them instant notoriety for a unique design innovation for a unique client, Oakland’s Cathedral of Christ the Light, to be exact. SOM designed the cathedral as a modern monument to green buildings and a symbol of the community’s open faith. The secular building is a luminous combination of a vented wooden inner structure and an outer glass shell.
As an international firm with eight offices in five countries, SOM’s David Childs has been tasked with designing perhaps the most important building in modern history, the 1,776 foot One World Trade Center that is estimated to replace its ill-fated predecessor on the iconic New York City skyline by 2013.
The building presents numerous logistical and structural challenges, since the events of September 11, 2001 demand a structure that is technologically sound and impervious to damage from unnatural forces. The iconic structure will require concrete-reinforced beams with impact resistant layers and an exterior grill that provides a facial blast barrier and eliminates dynamic shift. Find them here.
The architectural group of Hijjas Kasturi has consistently built new construction that changes the face of its traditional Malaysian environments. Their functional, contemporary buildings have drawn the country forward from a nationalistic heritage to accept the youthful exuberance of its finest architects.
The firm’s project highlights since HKA’s beginnings in 1977 include a Conference Center and a Boating Clubhouse in Putrajaya (2003), the 38-storey headquarters of Pilgrim’s Management Fund (1984), and Al-Faisal University in Saudi Arabia (2007). Their thirst for training talented new artisans is the creative spark that helped build Rimbun Dahan, a 14-acre garden complex that nurtures young artists in residence as part of the Kasturi family home.
A new project called Precinct 4 aims to redefine the Kuala Lampur waterfront, with a cluster of eight sail-shaped buildings that will use alternative energy to improve CO2 emissions by 50%. The structures are an homage to Islamic architecture, and will surely continue HKA’s fine reputation for using intelligent features to maximize their social responsibility to environmentally-sound, beautiful structures. Find them here.
This core group of three visionaries has created a dynamic architect firm of respected professionals that create art by design. Graft now employs 120 design professionals, with three strategic offices in Berlin, Los Angeles, and Beijing. With over 60 engineering awards to their name since 1998, Graft has received consistent recognition for excellence and revolutionary structural design.
Graft Lab has been tremendously active in their own communities, giving numerous lectures and staging exhibitions of their finest work. Notable career highlights include Fix Restaurant in Las Vegas, Sci-Fi Channel Headquarters at NBC Studios, and last year’s Vertical Village in Dubai.
Current projects include Birds Island, an eclectic, energy-efficient private residence in Kuala Lampur, the 130,000 square-meter Dalian Daily tower in China, scheduled for completion in 2011, and Water Cay, a luxurious Caribbean oasis designed as a collaborative vacation resort and hotel with Brad Pitt, a recurring Graft client. Find more info here.
FXFOWLE is the brainchild of Bruce Fowle, melding innovative projects in many sectors, while maintaining a leadership role in LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) objectives for sustainable yet functional designs. 70 percent of Fowle’s staff are LEED accredited professionals.
One recent project in New York’s Madison Square Park is a fine example of the firm’s particular aesthetic. Sky House The 55-story residential tower is a cluster of 139 luxury condominiums that overlook some of Manhattan’s greatest landmarks, including the Chrysler and Empire State buildings. At ground level, the tower’s neighbor is the quaint landmark Church of the Transfiguration, which includes a lovely English shade garden.
This elegant living space encapsulates FXFOWLE’s style for functional living spaces and working environments. Other notable projects completed by the firm in recent years include the Conde Nast Building, the Julliard School expansion, the National Audubon Society headquarters, all in New York, and towers in Mumbai, Osaka, and Saudi Arabia.
Aedas is simply a world leader in architecture, whose projects encompass every design aspect, from health and safety management, conservation, and geomatics, to building, workplace and access consultation. Their research and development includes sustainability and advanced modeling groups as well as collaborative efforts with education centers around the world.
With 2,500 employees in 40 international offices, the firm’s project list includes work in every conceivable design sector, and Aedas has received numerous awards for structural design as well as engineering excellence. A prestigious client list includes partnerships with New York Public Library, AIG Global Real Estate, Prudential Portfolio, HSBC, Harvard University, and Allied London. Find Aedas here.
46-year-old architect Paul de Ruiter wrote a philosophical doctoral thesis that proposed the use of active building materials to create energy-efficient structures, thereby less dependent on conventional temperature controls. Since 1994, his firm has carried out this philosophy by designing unique, cost-effective dwellings for his clients, with offices in Amsterdam and Beijing.
De Ruiter employs a number of sustainability concepts during construction. His buildings incorporate revolutionary ideas, like harnessing the power of natural light, solar energy, and climate-controlled building exteriors to store or divert excess heat throughout the year, increasing energy efficiency.
The last several years have seen De Ruiter’s firm concentrating on design characteristics that blend with natural environments, like the Rijkswaterstaat office in Middleburg, Netherlands, completed in 2004. Set into favorable surroundings along a water delta, the office utilizes acres of glass and cold storage pipes underground to allow the active concrete to store heat in winter and cool the interiors in summer. The office employs a versatile design with wide hallways, and a spacious, open structure for maximum comfort and versatility.
New York-based Morphosis Architects, Inc. is a 50-member strong design firm with vision, headed by innovative director and Harvard graduate Thom Mayne. Their developments span 37 years in business, and their philosophy mirrors their company name, emphasizing small and large scale projects that evolve in tandem with changes in culture, technology and the environments for which they design.
Structural achievements such as Caltrans Dristrict 7 Headquarters and Italy’s Hypo Alpe-Adria Bank received high marks and ongoing projects including Taipei Performing Arts Center in Taiwan, Giant Group Campus in China, and Phare Tower in France assure a bright future for Mayne and his associates. The firm also recently won a bid, with three other companies, to compete for the design of a tower for China Construction Bank the world’s fourth-largest in terms of market capitalization. Find them here.
Architect Bart Prince is an Albuquerque native, who creates eclectic abodes and buildings, mostly in the Southwest, that defy description. A prime example is the stunningly unique Copper Palace, completed in 1993 for Barbi Benton (now an interior designer herself) and husband George Gradow in Aspen, Colorado.
Beginning in 1973, Prince began architectural design with a philosophy that incorporates what he calls organic architecture, which for him means allowing the site to dictate what the structure becomes, building from the inside out, as an evolution of time and materials that produces a unique design that is truly one of a kind.
His artistic vision and craftsmanship have earned him the distinction of being listed in Architectural Digest’s AD 100, the design authority’s listing of the top architects and designers in recent times. Find him here.
London-based dRMM scored a hit with their first project design in 1995, No. 1 Centaur Street, winning eight separate awards for this single design. Since then, the firm has developed numerous innovations, like the Kingsdale School with its variable skin roofing, and the lookout tower for Milton Keynes Gallery.
Now, the firm has created a revolutionary residence for one of its clients that has captured the imagination of designers worldwide. The Sliding House, as it is called, is an amazing achievement, in that a group of four small 12 volt motors powered by car batteries moves an external sleeve weighing 20 tons on railroad tracks, revealing its inner glass shell, in just six minutes. The collective jaws of its witnesses are still waiting to close. Check them out here.
Arquitectonica has all the markings of an international giant among design firms, with impressive credentials that span a 32 year career as industry leaders. The firm estimates featured work has appeared in 3,000 publications. They have stamped their influence on public and private buildings at local and international locations in 40 countries. The group maintains eleven regional offices in 8 countries.
Their divisions orchestrate all facets of design, planning, and implementation of client architecture, landscaping, and interiors. Their services encompass project engineering from drawing board to completed site, all under one roof.
Born in 1977 in Miami, the company’s work has even inspired a 224-page book spanning its last 20 years of achievement, a rare feat among design firms. Recent accomplishments include clients like Miami City Ballet, American Airlines and Philips arenas in Miami, Four Seasons resorts in Caracas and Dubai, Sheraton Phoenix, and The Westin New York. Find them here.
In 1987 four people joined hands to form Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg Architects in Toronto. Within their first two years of practice, the group was awarded for work completed at the Queen’s University Library and Kitchener City Hall. Today the firm employs more than eighty, and KPMB has won more than 100 awards for international excellence in design.
The group has been particularly active in their native Toronto, contributing to six of nine major projects concerning the city’s Cultural Renaissance. Aesthetics and sustainability dominate their philosophy for new work, utilizing energy-efficient materials and integrated design that minimize environmental impact.
A recently published monograph in 2004 details 17 years of achievements over the course of Toronto’s rebirth. Active clients for work in progress include the Canadian Museum of Nature, Maple Leaf Square, and Vaughan Civic Centre in Ontario.
In the late 1960’s architect Jim Olson had a vision, to apply his architectural skill in blending modern design with nature, to bring harmony to the project sites he and his company acquired. Along the way, he collaborated with other architects to re-define traditional spaces with a modern, earthy confidence that soothes the eye and calms the spirit.
Today, high-profile projects and renovations around greater Seattle, including museums, churches, public buildings, and private dwellings, have made Olson Sundberg Kundig Allen Architects a well-respected firm for Olson and his associates.
Their work embodies a commitment to contemporary styling while remaining true to classical forms, natural light, and the sanctity of the environments they enhance. The awards and accolades they’ve received to date, including this year’s National AIA (American Institute of Architects) Firm of the Year Award, are well-deserved. Find them here.
Want to see the second tallest building in the world? Flash forward to 2014, when Gensler, founded by Art Gensler in 1965, plans to complete construction on Shanghai Tower, a 632 meter mammoth, in the city’s financial district. Having already volunteered for monolith projects like BM Plaza and Mary Kay headquarters in Shanghai and three girder giants in the ambitiously austere DIFC (Dubai International Financial Centre) – Tameer Towers, Tower 38, and Currency House in the UAE (United Arab Emirates), Gensler is no stranger to skyscrapers.
4240 Architecture represents a pinnacle of achievement in world-class architectural design. With dual offices in Chicago and Denver, wide ranging skill sets, and international acclaim, the design group has landed projects in residential, commercial, government, and religious buildings. It has a long list of distinguished clients, including Hilton, Nike, Chase Manhattan Bank, Bass Pro Shops, and Ramada International. Recent projects include the New Mexico Department of Transportation, Riverfront Park in Denver, Paris Metro Station, and the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Israel.The group has over 25 years of design experience and currently employs more than 80 craftsmen. Its company missions include commitments to sustainability and the environment, with its membership in the U.S. Green Building Council, a government body dedicated to responsibility and certification for environmentally-conscious construction. Find them here.