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When we reflect back on momentous architecture of decades past, names like Mies Van Der Rohe, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Le Corbusier, among others, are on the tip of our tongue. With a new year in full swing, one that brings us just a little bit closer to the end of another decade, it’s interesting to analyze what may go down in history books as the definition of architecture today. 2016 marked a significant loss for the architecture community with the passing of 65-year-old Zaha Hadid, the first woman to win the Pritzker Architecture Prize, an award aimed at honoring living architects whose built work consistently and significantly contributes to humanity and the art of architecture.
Hadid’s designs are often described as futuristic and innovative. She relied heavily on computer-based design methods to push the spatial limits of physical materials that reality could not yet match. Because of this, Hadid became a leader in theoretical design with her collection of unrealized projects. Zaha Hadid first made her mark in the United States with the Rosenthal Center for Contemporary Art in Cincinnati, Ohio, coined by The New York Times as “the most important new building in America since the Cold War.” She went on to receive numerous awards in recognition of her bold architectural style, including the Glasgow Riverside Museum of Transport in Scotland, the Heydar Aliyev Cultural Centre in Azerbaijan and the Zaragoza Bridge Pavilion in Spain.
Architectural Design Ahead of Its Time
Another recognizable name of architecture today is Renzo Piano, honored by TIME in 2006 as one of the 100 most influential people in the world for his mastery of light and the level of elegance he achieves with each built work. The Centre Georges Pompidou, designed in collaboration with Richard Rogers in 1971, was a building ahead of its time. The high tech design exposes the building’s infrastructure, including the mechanical and structural system, maximizing interior space. One of Piano’s most recent works is a 72-story glass skyscraper, Europe’s tallest, nicknamed “The Shard.”
Not to be outdone, Frank Gehry has also left a significant imprint on today’s architecture with the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao. It was named one of the most important works completed since 1980 in the 2010 World Architecture Survey conducted by Vanity Fair. Constructed of glass, limestone and titanium, the interconnected curved shapes almost appear rippled as they reflect the light and surrounding environment.
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