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6 Famous Green Architects of Our Time

Frank Lloyd Wright Home And Studio

We take a look at 6 famous green architects that have left a green mark on our built enviornment.  The principles of sustainable architecture have been around forever. The Roman aqueducts were innovative in distributing renewable water throughout the city and ancient Greeks positioned their structures to capture the sun’s rays for heat. Frank Lloyd Wright is the most widely recognized sustainable architect, shaping the way architects design green today. He designed structures to blend in with their surroundings in organic ways.

Frank Lloyd Wright Home And Studio

Frank Lloyd Wright Home And Studio. Photo credit: CC 2.0 SA, by Teemu008

Famous Green Architects

Here are six famous green architects from our time that are following in his footsteps. 1. Jean Nouvel This French architect has won several major awards for architectural design, such as the Pritzker Architecture Prize in 2008 and the Aga Khan Award for Architecture. Jean Nouvel designed the Arab World Institute in Paris, the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, and the Torre Agbar in Barcelona. One of the best examples of his work in sustainability is the Dentsu Building in Tokyo. Some of the sustainable projects he has worked on recently include the tallest vertical garden in Sydney, a nature-filled National Art Museum in China, and coal gasometers transformed into urban living in Vienna.

Fondation Cartier, Paris, Jean Nouvel, 1994

Fondation Cartier, Paris, Jean Nouvel, 1994. Photo credit: Timothy Brown, licensedunder CC 2.0 SA. Source.

2. William McDonough This American architect has more awards than he can count. They include the EPA Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award, the Presidential Award for Sustainable Development, and the National Design Award. William McDonough designed the Ford Rouge truck plant in Michigan that has an innovative air-delivery system to reduce duct work, as well as the Adam Joseph Lewis Center for Environmental Studies that produces 30 percent of its own energy at Oberlin College. Additionally, McDonough is a co-founder of the Make It Right Foundation. WATCH: William McDonough: Cradle to cradle design


3. Ken Yeang This Malaysian architect focused his career on designing sustainable structures that were one with nature. He created the “bioclimatic skyscraper” that has shaped the way that architects designs skyscrapers around the world. Essentially, he uses the surrounding environment and vegetation to drive design instead of competing with it. Ken Yeang also believes that structures must have beauty or they face rejection. In addition to his architectural designs, Yeang has published books on ecological design and won several awards. WATCH: An interview with architect Ken Yeang, on CNN’s ‘Just Imagin


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4. Glenn Murcutt This Australian architect has been working on modernist buildings since the mid-70s. He likes to position buildings so that they absorb the most sun and have good air flow. That’s why all of Glenn Murcutt’s designs are open-concept. He is one of Australia’s most famous architects and has won several awards, including the Pritzker. Murcutt mostly works on homes, but he also designed the Arthur and Yvonne Boyd Education Centre. 5. Renzo Piano This Italian architect is arguably the most influential green architect in modern history. He doesn’t stick to stereotypical sustainable building shapes or materials, but he still incorporates elements that are green in his designs. One of Renzo Piano’s famous designs is the California Academy of Sciences, where a museum houses an aquarium and planetarium.

The California Academy of Sciences, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, California, as viewed from the tower of the de Young Museum (with the University of California, San Francisco Parnassus campus at the base of Mount Sutro in the distance). The building has a green roof. The three largest "hills" on the roof overlie the planetarium, swamp exhibit and rainforest exhibit (left to right). Photo credit: WolfmanSF. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

The California Academy of Sciences, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, California, as viewed from the tower of the de Young Museum. The building has a green roof. The three largest “hills” on the roof overlie the planetarium, swamp exhibit and rainforest exhibit (left to right). Photo credit: WolfmanSF. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

The real show stopping component, however, is that Piano built it into the side of a hill, so it really blends into its environment. The building needs no air conditioning and it actually absorbs two million gallons of rainwater every year. Piano also worked on the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center in Greece. WATCH: Renzo PIANO – The Modern Wing


6. Rolf Disch This German architect’s designs focus on incorporating the power of the sun. Since Solar energy costs are not as high as they once were, Rolf Disch takes full advantage of solar to make his architectural designs sustainable. He is most famous for the Heliotrope, a residence that he constructed for himself that harnesses the optimal level of natural sunlight to warm water and generate electricity. He and others constructed several Heliotropes as a result. Disch is also the winner of several awards, including the German Sustainability Award, the European Solar Prize, the Golbal Energy Award, and many more.

The Heliotrope is an environmentally friendly house designed by the German architect Rolf Disch. Photo credit: CC-BY-SA-3.0; Released under the GNU Free Documentation License. Source

The Heliotrope is an environmentally friendly house designed by the German architect Rolf Disch. Photo credit: CC-BY-SA-3.0; Released under the GNU Free Documentation License. Source

These are just a few of the architects leading the way in sustainable architecture today. Others to research include Buckminster Fuller, Eric Corey Freed, Peter Busby, and Norman Foster. Architects discover new innovations in design every year. It will be interesting to see what these architects come up with next. Recommended Reading:

Article by Jane Miller Author Bio Jane Miller is an avid writer, traveler, foodie and a certified coffee addict. She really wanted to have a cat but her nomadic lifestyle won’t allow it. You can follow her at @AuthJane or email her at authorjanesc@gmail.com. Return to Homepage

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