| superstars put in correct perspective
| arbitrators of taste - no more.
Amy Van Deusen
It's little wonder that architecture has been called the mother of the
arts. It is a field that combines everything from drawing to sculpture
to painting. An architect's work is done on a canvas so large it can
change the face of a neighborhood--or an entire skyline. Exceptional
works can stand as icons of a city, like Chicago's Sears Tower, a past
era (think New York's Flatiron Building) or a bold vision of the future,
such as Frank Gehry's Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain.
In the 21st century, architects may not have the same ability to reshape
the world on a mass scale as they did in the years following WWII, but
there is no end of daring dreamers emerging from leading architecture
schools. The American Institute of Architects estimates an unprecedented
91,000 architects are employed by U.S. firms in 2005, with new entrants
joining the field due to what Kermit Baker, chief economist of the AIA,
says is a "robust time in the industry."
In 2002, the 16,500 architecture firms owned by AIA members grossed
billings of $25.5 billion, according to AIA records. Baker estimates
billings have grown 5% for each of the last several years and predicts a
2005 billings total of $27 billion to $28 billion--at pace with the
overall growth of the economy.
This year, Forbes.com took on the task of identifying ten architects who
are most influencing the American landscape. With the enormous number of
architects working today, it is difficult to pick out the truly
remarkable designers from the many good ones. To do this we looked at
several factors, including an architect's important works.