Architecture | Three Iconic Architects That Have Changed New York City

Living in New York City among some of the tallest skyscrapers can make a person feel small. It’s easy to forget that among these man-made canyons lies some of the most creative architecture in the world. Three architects in particular have designed buildings in New York that add a dash of modern flair and organic interest to the cityscape.

1. Frank Lloyd Wright

Image courtesy guggenheim.org/the-frank-lloyd-wright-building
Image courtesy guggenheim.org/the-frank-lloyd-wright-building
Frank Lloyd Wright began his career in Chicago and the Midwest, where he designed homes in the Prairie style, which celebrated indigenous American materials and worked to tie architecture into the landscape rather than to European traditions. As he aged, his work became increasingly experimental.
Image courtesy guggenheim.org/the-frank-lloyd-wright-building
Image courtesy guggenheim.org/the-frank-lloyd-wright-building
The capstone building of Wright’s career is the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum right here in Manhattan. Wright died before the completion of this modern wonder, a rising spiral gallery in which guests are treated to a building as beautiful as the artwork it holds. The privately owned Crimson Beech house is the only residence of Wright’s design built in New York City; it’s interior is not open to the public, but it can be viewed from the street on Staten Island.

2. Frank Gehry

Image  courtesy designingbuildings.co.uk/wiki/Frank_Gehry
Image courtesy designingbuildings.co.uk/wiki/Frank_Gehry
Born in Toronto in 1929, Los Angeles-based architect Frank Gehry is perhaps the most famous living designer. He dropped out Harvard and moved to Southern California, where he designed homes in an increasingly radical Deconstructivist style. His buildings are known for demolishing architectural norms, such as right angles and straight lines, preferring instead to challenge the notion that form must follow function.
Image courtesy architecturaldigest.com/gallery/best-of-frank-gehry-slideshow/all
Image courtesy architecturaldigest.com
Gehry’s highly imaginative style can be seen all over Manhattan, most notably in the Issey Miyake flagship store, where the interior features Gehry’s signature shiny, undulating metallic panels. Gehry’s first skyscraper also resides in NYC at 8 Spruce St., where its wavering lines rise up from the street like smoke along its 76 stories.

3. David Childs

Image courtesy aia.org/practicing/aiab090856
Image courtesy aia.org/practicing/aiab090856

It’s hard to find an architect who’s more of a real New Yorker than David Childs. Though he was born in Princeton, N.J., in 1941, he spent most of his formative years in Bedford Village, N.Y. Today, he lives on the Upper West Side. As the chairman emeritus of the architectural firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, he has overseen many prominent buildings in New York, including the arrivals terminal at JFK and several buildings in Times Square.

Image courtesy aia.org/practicing/aiab090856
Image courtesy aia.org/practicing/aiab090856

It’s impossible to miss his biggest stamp on New York City, though: the Freedom Tower at One World Trade Center. This shining beacon — complete with a spire that rises to a symbolic 1,776 feet — is one of the most recognizable buildings in New York.