DESIGN

How top architects shaped the most iconic buildings in the world

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Norman Foster is known for his sleek structures, crafted with glass and steel. Foster’s firm, Foster + Partners, carries with it the same world-class design philosophy as its founder — evident in the soon-to-rise luxury residential condominium The Estate Makati. Photo courtesy of THE ESTATE MAKATI

Manila (CNN Philippines Life) — Architecture is the art of bringing inert materials to life. While function serves as its primary focus, there are those which masterfully bring form into their work. These brilliant architects have crafted their structures in such a way they no longer stand as urban backgrounds but rather actors playing roles in the life of a city. Think how the Chrysler Building plays its part in the New York City skyline, or how the Burj Khalifa represents the identity of Dubai — or even how the Taj Mahal gives you a glimpse of an entire nation. We look at some of the world’s renowned architects and how they have mastered breathing life into structures.

Frank Lloyd Wright’s most famous building Fallingwater is a house composed of horizontal rectangles peeking from the forest as a natural waterfall flows below it. Photo by CAROL M. HIGHSMITH/WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

Frank Lloyd Wright

Wright pioneered the first truly American architecture with the Prairie House style which used low horizontal lines, reminiscent of the prairie, and Usonian House, which came about after the great depression. The Usonian house made use of architecture to maximize amenities, such as a flat roof for efficient heating and cooling and clerestory windows to maximize natural light. The style that he is most famous for is the Prairie House, which combines the structure with the landscape. It is most evident in his most famous building, Fallingwater. The house is composed of horizontal rectangles peeking from the forest as a natural waterfall flows below it, a masterful interplay between nature and architecture.

The Foster + Partners-designed The Estate Makati, a luxury residential condominium set to rise along Ayala Avenue in Makati. Photo courtesy of THE ESTATE MAKATI

Norman Foster

Foster is known for his sleek structures, crafted with glass and steel. Drawing inspiration from iconic architects such as Wright, van der Rohe, and Le Corbusier, his works have gone to claim international fame, and has even landed him a knighthood. His most popular building so far, which graces the London skyline, is the 30 St. Mary Axe, informally known as The Gherkin, a 180m-tall skyscraper spiraling from the ground up to its geodesic dome.

Foster’s firm, Foster + Partners, carries with it the same world-class design philosophy as its founder. Guided by its principles of sustainability and creating bespoke solutions, the firm is set to create history with its first endeavor in the Philippines. Together with SMDC and Federal Land, the renowned firm is set to design The Estate Makati, a high-rise residential condominium located along Ayala Avenue in Makati. Like all great architects, the structure draws inspiration from its environment. Its cross-shaped scheme will give residents breathtaking views of the city. It will also boast 763 sqm multi-level super penthouse suites, aside from its equally expansive two-bedroom and three-bedroom flats.

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s emphasis on minimalism — one of his favorite aphorisms was “less is more”— created buildings that stand out among its environment, an example of which is the S. R. Crown Hall of the College of Architecture at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago, Illinois. Photo by JOE RAVI/CC-BY-SA 3.0/WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe

Van der Rohe became one of the pioneers of modern architecture through his minimalist design and use of materials. By stripping down architecture to convey ideas, his structures appear with clear intent and simplicity. For his design of the Barcelona Pavilion, he used steel, glass, and various types of marble which were geometrically cut, showcasing modernity through their precision and assembly. His emphasis on minimalism — one of his favorite aphorisms was “less is more” — created buildings that stand out among its environment, making them ideal places for gatherings yet difficult for situations that require privacy.

One of Frank Gehry’s most famous works, the Guggenheim Bilbao, is a series of shapes wrought in titanium, glass, and stone that wowed both his peers and the press (and was responsible for giving life to Bilbao’s economy). Photo by PA/CC BY-SA 4.0/WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

Frank Gehry

While rooted in modernism, Gehry’s works are in a category of their own, although disruptive would come close as a description. He began with designing furniture, where his chair would contain curves and angles that would inevitably predict his future designs. One of his most famous works, the Guggenheim Bilbao, is a series of shapes wrought in titanium, glass, and stone which wowed both his peers and the press (and was responsible for giving life to Bilbao’s economy). This style would continue on to different projects, such as the Walt Disney Concert Hall in California and the Ray and Maria Stata Center in MIT.

Renzo Piano’s “The Shard” illustrates his skill in making enormous structures still feel delicate. Photo by FRED ROMERO/CC BY 2.0/WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

Renzo Piano

Piano’s repertoire of works, a vast checklist of residential and commercial structures, shows how prolific he is as a contemporary architect. More than his work, Piano’s styles also shift. Exteriors can range from stone to terracotta to glass — one of his recent works is a 72-storey mixed-use tower covered in white glass dubbed “The Shard.” The tower, due to its exterior, emulates the city, mimicking its color and weather patterns. The structure also illustrates Piano’s skill in making enormous structures still feel delicate.