A Look at Famous Architects' First Projects

A Look at Famous Architects' First Projects

Julia Brenner
Oct 29, 2015

Patrick Sisson, news editor at Curbed, has created a fascinating series examining the debut projects of famous architects, from legendary figures like Frank Lloyd Wright and Mies van der Rohe to modern icons such as Frank Gehry and David Adjaye.

I particularly love how this series takes a behind-the-scenes approach to each architect's debut project, including a section titled "Getting the Gig" as well as a look into how these projects were received and how these first solo works influenced—or in some cases did not influence—each architect's creative evolution. The piece on Jeanne Gang's Belden Loft, above, explores a home she created for a friend pro bono—a friend quoted as saying, "I knew [Jeanne] was a genius before the MacArthur foundation did."

In the installment on Santiago Calatrava, whose first project was highly restrictive, it's interesting to see glimpses of the curving, grandiose style he's become famous for (e.g., Puente del Alamillo and the Milwaukee Art Museum) come through in the design of service entrance doors to a warehouse.

While Calatrava's service entrance doors represent a young architect finding ways to infuse his day job with his personal vision, the young David Adjaye was already something of a rockstar around London when he completed his first solo project, Elektra House, in 2000. Yet, despite a stellar reputation, his first gig was far from smooth sailing, as this "first project was almost his last."

Head on over to Curbed for the full list of 21 projects, including an interactive map.

P.S. If you have the chance to visit Chicago in the next few months, the Architecture Biennial is happening now through January 2016. I cannot recommend it enough.

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