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Topic for Debate
 
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
What makes an architect famous? Is being famous directly proportional to being good? If yes, then does it mean in the whole of Asia and Africa there are no architects good enough to be world-famous?

What do the Japanese architects Isozaki, Ando, Kurokawa, Maki and Ito have in them (to become world-famous) that architects from Pakistan, China, India, Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, the 22 Arab countries Turkey, Nigeria and numerous other countries in the region don't have? There must be factors other than just being 'good'.
Hammad Husain
Responses
 
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
Few minutes ago I have seen a short documentary Profile: Zaha Hadid (BBC World satelitte channel). She might be mentioned in the context of this interesting topic as an 'exception that confirms the rule'.
Mirjana Devetakovic Radojevic
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
Very interesting topic Mr. Hammad.
We (students) are also quite often used to discuss this topic in our gathering that what is that in the famous architects that makes them worlds best. One of us says its the exposure, second says its the quality of there work (he is quite optimistic) but still the discussion ends up with nothing conclude.
Also when we undertake presentation (Quite often held at NED) by some of the famous arhcitects inside the country (Pakistan), the same discusion got started, that what was that in the projects that HE was presenting at the stage and WE are there at the back of the benches.
Ofcourse this is more of a students' feelings, with a limited exposure to the outer world , to the practical environment, and to the worlds' issues.
What I personally feel about what is lacking in the Pakistani architects, is there limited approach to deal with the arhcitecture, with the material, with the lights, with the colors etc. The result is that we have only one architect's project, winning Aga Khan Awards.
Quite often the argument presented is that there are not that much big projects. But the last ( If I am not wrong ) is being given to an house.
So the issue has again back to the first stage.
Hope fully with the presence of such prolific philosphers and thinkers, the discussion might satifsfy us.
Arshad Siddiqui
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
i agree with mirjana that zaha hadid is a good exception. maybe abdul wahid-el wakil and hasan fathy can also be added to this list.

but i think, as arshad said, a lack of exposure could be one factor. and other factors could be lack of materials available, technology required to put them together and the overall workmanship etc. but it would be good to different views from differnt countries.
Ali Hassan Salameh
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
This is a great question. I am not sure how to approach this topic, since sometimes it is a reason for a sustained frustration!

I hope I am not too harsh on famous architects?!! My view here might be seen as very controversial by many or very provocative by few. I hope I am not deviating the discussion.

BUT LET"S FACE IT ONCE

I would introduce SEVEN measures that lead to an architect's fame. I would argue that these measures are the true reasons.

1- Maintaining close ties with the power (political and financial), which leads to the commissioning of "Landmark" projects that no matter what qualities they have, still seen as great achievements.

2- Maintaining close ties with the general mass media, which leads to a continuous praise in the papers, magazines, and TV. (regardless of the value of their work)

3- Maintaining close ties with the critics, which leads to the view that their work is regarded as exceptional and that there is a NEW theory behind it (which I doubt)!!!!

4- Talking very skillfully about themselves and about their individual work (being very articulate), which leads in many cases to many fallacies, where younger generations believe what they say, without questioning. By the way, before making public speeches, famous architects flip the pages of theory books to borrow couple of statements and link them to their work!!!!

5- Continuously attending reception parties and public gatherings, which may lead to new connections with investors or developers!!!

6- Working with non government organizations (non profit) to show how they are very sympathetic with some special populations!!!!

7- Receiving Awards becuase they made outstanding (TRUE) achievements and quality work

The above seven measures are the reasons that make famous architects famous.

I would say that the last reason is hardly the case. And, the only way to make it so, among other reasons, is to see organizations that award projects for their essence and value, . The only organization I have ever seen that award projects for their true value in their communities is the Aga khan Award for Architecture. I think it is time to discuss many of the merits of the projects that won the award and why they won, and see how thinkers, intellectualls, and philosophers said about them.

I wish I could see famous architects able to solve a housing problem in a village or in a dense urban region, or able to introduce change in a poor community, or a squatter settlement. While famous architects are immersing themselves in exploring new innovations to foster their fame, two third of the world's population lacks shelter or live in substandard houses.

DID I MISS ANYTHING!!!!!

Yes, I forgot to say one more reason: Some famous architects get very famous because they were able to solve the problem of "the building corner" Welcome corner!

Now, Let me tell you how famous architects see themselves and how they see others. Dana Cuff inerviewed a number of famous architects in 1990: Eisenman, Todd William, Hugh Hardy, Steven Holl, Robert Kliment, Joseph Polshek, and Richard Meier. Interviews revealed the follwing:

Famous architects see architecture and their work as a process of self exploration, self actualization at the expense of other enduring values of architecture:

Todd Williams said "if you are of that critic in the mirror, you can do all kinds of outrageous things...creative and truly profound"

Richard Meiers said: The similarities among my works is because I am interested in certain things"

Robert Kliment said: "I make what I want to be...architecture is a way to create order and logic in my own life"

Eisenman said: "I act through architecture, how else do I prove I am here"

As Cuff commented those architects deny the validity of social sciences in architecture.

I have more to say here, but I guess this is enough!

To those who participated in this discussion, or will participate, please accept my apologies for being so negative, but these are the realities that we keep avoiding.

Also, to all: You might want to look at the following books

Dana Cuff and Ellis Russell (1989), Architects People. NY: Oxford University Press.

Dana Cuff (1993), Architecture: The Story of Practice. Cambridge, MA: MIT PRESS

Robert Gutman (1988), Architectural Practice, A Critical View. NY: Princeton Architectural Press.

Tom Wolf (1981) From Bauhaus to Our House. NY: McGraw Hill

FINAL WORD: It is not important to see famous international architects from Asia or Africa, What is really important is solving architectural and urban and rural problems of the two continents, fame will come later when basic needs are satisfied.

Many thanks Mr. Husain for raising such a critical subject, I do hope you are not disappointed with my posting.
Ashraf Salama
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
Dear Ms. Radojevic, You are right that Iraqi-born Zaha Hadid is probably the only architect from this region who is recognised internationally. However, I would like to focus on this issue as a whole and see it in the larger context as opposed to individual exceptions. As Mr. Salameh said El-Wakil and Fathy are famous in the region too. And so are Correa and to an extent Bawa, but they havent aquired the kind of fame that most American, European or Japanese architects have.

This is also important in the context of large international projects. The more famous an architect, the brighter the chances that he would be commissioned for an international project - irrespective of how good or how innovative he is. So fame has monetary benefits as well. One high-profile international project then leads to another. Its like making the first million, the rest then follow and the ball starts rolling. What I want to know is how an architect becomes famous in the first place!

Regards,
Hammad Husain
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
Good analysis Dr. Salama. It was stimulating and raised many interesting points. Far from being boring! I believe that self-projection has a lot to do in getting famous. The factors that you wrote are all part of projecting one's image and interacting with the right people, making the right noises. Being good is just one of the factors.

I think publications play a very important role in making or breaking architects. I have an obseravtion in this regard: I think a closer look at famous architects reveals that they are mostly from - or have done projects in - countries with influential, international publications, magazines and journals. These magazines, more often than not, provide a platform to - and project - architects of their own country (specially the relatively less known ones) and then they give coverage to the already famous ones, as that sells their magazine. So it works both ways.

There is this circle of influential publications and certain architects who have become famous keep getting their projects and interviews published in them. So once an architect becomes famous, his nationality becomes insignificant. He then aquires a 'designer' label and a becomes a 'hot-selling' item for a magazine. However to reach that place, he needs a solid projecting platform with international circulation, in his own country, sympathetic towards new talent - something that we lack in this region.
Hammad Husain
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
Dr.Salama has put forward a very thorough analysis of what brings fame to some architects and not to others.Being good ofcourse is an important criteria but as he has stated there are many other factors involved in becoming famous.Here I wish to state a very simple point, taking the example of karachi.There are few architects who are known for their work.One could say that they are the famous ones!How have they managed to acquire this fame? The answers that come up are quite similar to what Dr.Salama has stated- contacts, public relations,ties with the government,community support ....and so on..!!! Their talent or creativity is not being questioned...but what about those immensely talented architects who have no background what so ever to fall back on.Will they be able to scale the heights as their peers have done? Perhaps not!!!!!!!!!!!!
I believe it would be very interesting if some famous architects could be discussed in this forum,not just their work but also how they go about their practice and maybe we could determine when and how they got the "breakthrough" that made them famous.
One last thing-Dr.Salama, I dont believe that what you have stated should be taken as negative comments.Infact these are facts that all students of architecture should be well aware of.Its during the days of studying that Wright,Kahn,Ando, Meiers and the so on are intensely studied and dreams are conjured about following in their steps.So it becomes essential that those dreams come face to face with the realities.
Rahina Wahid
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
Dear Rahina, thanks for the input. I think the teachers are in a better position to put forward the realities of the real world to the students. Having role models is healthy, but students have the right to know the real factors behing their role model's success, as it is widely perceived that any building designed by a famous architect would be better than any competetitor's.

Let me relate an interesting exercise that a teacher gave to 2nd year students at university.

The professor brought photographs of two buildings and pasted them on the wall. One picture was labelled "Architect: Le Corbusier" and the other carried the name of a not-very-prominent local architect. Then he put a blank sheet of paper under each picture and asked the students to analyse the designs and then write their names under the photograph they thought was a better design. Over 90 % preferred the one with with Le Corbusier's name.

Then the professor revealed to the class that he had actually switched the names! He wanted to prove that a 'known' name automatically carries more weight and it affects our capacity to judge a building impartially.

Do you think this sort of name-worship is healthy for students? I would like to see comments by teachers and educators.

Regards,
Hammad Husain
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
Very nicely categorize by Dr. Salama and Mr. Hussain
.
I would like to add a category (or a way to fame) here, is the raising up of some sensitive and critical issues ( NOT PROVIDING THE SOLUTION ) relating to the world of architecture, rural and urban settlements, slums etc.
The best example can be Karachi Development Plans, four times proposed after independence, by different local and foreign aggencies, but the city structure has gone bad to worse.
But still we (students) have to study these FAILURES along with the PERSONALITIES involved.

ISN'T IT AMAZING!
Arshad Siddiqui
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
Hi Rahina
Very nice to see you here
Do you remember us.
Arshad Siddiqui
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
i'm really happy to see a response for a title like this,but may be i have another openion !!!
they are famous in the same way same way salvister stalone ,alin delon,sofia loren,rodi voler(soccer) are known to us.
the same way gallelio,reonaldo davinci,froid,carle marx,martin luther king are known for us.
on the other hand they dont know any thing about
yousef wahbi,amina rizk,zaki rostom,farid shawki,abd elwahab,ommkalthoum,farid alattrash.
Taher abuzied,bebo.
they dont know any thing about
Omar Ebn Elkhattab,Amer ebn el Aas,El Fendi,El Bayronee,Ebn El Nafees,Ebn El Haytham.
Mahmoud MOkhtar,Salah Taher.
we know christof columbus and they donot know about Ebn Maja.
what i meen we have to know our great people, we have to respect them before we ask why OTHERS are famous.
we must ask why we are not famos to us.
ask any body abot Hassan Fathy, then ask about ahmed hossam?? then write to me.
Tarek Al Sebaiy
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
Dear Hammad, I absolutely agree with you that teachers should make the students well aware about the realities. During

classroom discussions the focus should not only be on the design aspects of the projects, but also on the factors that turned

the project into reality.As you have said that "students have the right to know the real factors behind their role model's

success".
As to the fact that any building designed by a famous architect is thought to be better than any other's , I think here the

human psychology comes into play. It's just like you are buying any consumer product,if one knows it is by a well known brand

the automatic assumption will be that it is definitely better than its obscure counterpart. Thus when we see a project by a

famous architect we assume it to be the better than the rest. The incident that you have related is also proving the same

point.Thus it becomes imperative that exercises such as the one mentioned and others are conducted in the studios, so that

the students are able to challenge and question the conventions.
Also in our institutions the discourse on design is limited to great names.Their projects are studied in detail,analysis

,reports etc follow the discussions.Thus leading to name-worship amongst the students-ofcourse it is not a very healthy

attitude for students because in most of their projects they tend to emulate their favourite name (to be able to design like

him/her).Hence they unconsciously limit their creative abilities.

Hi arshad, ofcourse i remember all of you.Say hello to your colleagues.

regards,
rahina.
Rahina Wahid
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
Thanks to all for your thoughful contributions. Yes Mr. Husain. Architectural Magazines play an important role. The danger lies in the fact that students are encouraged to study projects in those magazines whose concern is directed toward formal trends. The written content focus on the aesthetics of buildings, rarely on construction, and nothing about the users.occupants; The original reason for the existence of the building. So the graphic content becomes the key. Many un-successful ugly buildings have been praised because excellent photographers have taken pictures, that's all.
Ashraf Salama
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
I just want to comment on "Solving the problem of the building corner", many magazines and critical articles in major US newspapers over the past two years placed emphasis on the building corner, as if its the only architectural problem an architect faces. Is this true???? But again, WELCOME CORNER!
Ashraf Salama
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
Dear Mr. Tarek El Sebaiy, this is precisely what the discussion is all about - that why are our people not known all over the world. Why are Egyptian architects not known in the world as much as western or Japanese are known? Till 30 years ago, the Japanese were also not known anywhere in the world.

You have written a list of people who I believe are famous in Egypt. My initial question seeks to find out that is Barbara Striesand a better singer than Omm Kalthoum? If not then why is Striesand listened to more all around the world. I am looking for the reasons.

Having said that, we must not forget that people in the West know about Al-Beruni, Al-Kindi, Farabi, Sina, Jabir Bin Hayyan, Ghazali, Ibn Rushd as intellectuals. In addition to that, people like Salahuddin Ayyubi, Khalid Bin Walid, Suleyman the Magnificent etc are known to the world. Why? Because they dominated the world in their own field of expertise. Were they all as good as we know them to be? Well, this is precisely what I am aksing about the people who dominate the architectural world in the 21st Century. Please answer this question, Mr. Tarek.
Hammad Husain
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
This statement of Dr. Salama paints a very true picture of the magazines:

"The written content focus on the aesthetics of buildings, rarely on construction, and nothing about the users.occupants; The original reason for the existence of the building."

Aesthetics and form is giving preference over usage and functionality of the building in magazines. Most magazines are just interested in increasing their circulation and to be frank, talking about slums, squatters, low-cost housing solutions doesnt suit them. However talking abt Libeskind's new WTC design and Gehry's Bilbao increases their circulation. This perfectly suits Libeskind and Gehry! Why should they be bothered about anything less than high profile gleaming structures if that gets them the desired publicity!
Hammad Husain
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
good commentary by all!

let me put some issues in perspective-

architecture undergraduates over the next 10 years would probably know more about Foster,Meier,Hadid,Libeskind,Koolhaas etc than about FLW,Corbusier,Gaudi,Sullivan,Neimeyer.( even though i think that age contributed more to the fundamentals)

We all know about Corbusier's triumphs at Villa Savoy,La roche etc but how much can we say about his failures at Chandigrah?
DO you know of any single book that focuses on any one Architects failures alone?
is there any Architectural Publications that highlights failures ALONE?-NO

there's this common believe that we can learm more from our mistakes than our successes...is this true? if so, should we focus more on our mistakes?

Everyone knows Fosters Reichstag, but how much material is out there that a feud ensued where the contractors claimed a fundamental design 'mistake' was the cause?- not a lot i believe!

20 years from know if you post this question-"FLW vs Foster who has contributed more to Architecture."- An undergraduate student would probably pick foster simply on Name/Project recognition(I wouldn't pick either;the comparison has merits and demerits)

my point? Time,Chance,opportunity,information and Publicity!

Koolhaas is acclaimed for Urban studies(he has a proffersoprship at harvard)-
how many peopple know that he was once a journalist ?take a look at S,M,L,XL ...his journalistic background is obvious.

I am not against any of them-quite the opposite! I only know a bit about them because i admire their 'good work'

What if Gaudi had been as prolific a writer has Corbusier? ...what if the internet had not made information more accessible?...were the 'NEW YORK FIVE'
really the 'real deal'?

The proffesion is more in the spotlight than ever before-how do you think it would be in 20 years?...would we advertise like lawyers in America?

Is Gehry's Guggenheim 'more entralling the FLW's? ...which has a more conceptually fundamental answer to the idea of viewing museum pieces?...today, tommorow and in ten years time?

then again what would be said about Calatrava vs Gaudi in Spain?...from the viewpoints of the the journalist,the public,the student or proffesionl Architect?

the answer -time,space,chance,opportunity and publicity!

Not neccesarily real achievements, innovations or interventions!
Olasupo Jagun
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
Many thanks to Mr Hussain for such an interesting topic!
Olasupo Jagun
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
olasupu u have analysed it well but still your arguement has remained very general. what do u mean by opportunity? did foster and FLW had more opportunity to prove themselves? and space and time? here u have compared different periods of time in architecture and said that foster would be known more than FLW in the near future. but the point is not comparing foster and FLW or comparing their guggenhiems. its toknow why each of them was so famous. u seem to have studied about a lot of these architects so u r in a good position to analyse this.
Ali Hassan Salameh
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
genuine effort. at first glance this may sound very general,but unknown places ,i have found best expressions in architecture at times without their designers famous.
Dushyant Nathwani
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
Interesting views Mr Jagun, and thank you for such an informative posting, but I think you have missed the point. We are not focussing on the failures of the famous architects, neither are we trying to draw comparisons between them. We are essentially trying to answer a question that seems very simple but everybody has it in his mind. Students wonder about this all the time - as a posting above says.

The fact that Le Corbusier failed as far as Chandigarh is concerned, has not had any effect on his fame. Whether we know about his failures or not, whether there has been a book highlighting his mess-ups or not, the fact remains that he is very famous and is the first name that an architecture student learns. Why?

Similarly, Foster's 'mistakes' in the Reichstag will never have anything to do with his world-fame. You yourself have mentioned Foster in many of your postings, showing that you look up to his work and probably his name. His 'mistakes' didnt change your own opinion about him. Is it right? My point is that once an architect is famous, its for life. However hard the architect tries, he can never undo his fame, even if he starts producing very average work.

But how does he acquire that fame? This is what we are trying to understand. There have been some very interesting analyses in previous postings. Thank you again for sharing such interesting information with us and hope to hear more from you.
Hammad Husain
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
Mr. Nathwani, I think you are way off the point. Please understand the context of the debate.

Regards,
Hammad Husain
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
Thanks to all, perhaps my posting did not convey my point clearly-...I was using the 'comparisons','failures',unknown facts etc to highlight my conclusions!

Time,Chance, Opportunity,Information and Publicity are some of the ingredients to the fame of famous Architects- more so today than ever before.

Today,the Proffesion is more in the public eye than ever before; the Internet,broadcast media etc are now the primary sources of information.

Perhaps a famous Architect's first call to fame is by an excellent intervention-TIME (anything he does after that whether good or bad is 'NEWS'and gets publicised). Being publicised alone increases this Architects fame.

Using two entirely different publications as examples (let's leave aside the context or anything like that for now,just focus on the public 'blitz')

Corbusier's -Vers Une Architecture and Koolhaas' -S,M,L,XL. Can you imagine the kind of promotion campaign that would have gone into Koolhaas book? Not just targeted at people involved with the profession but everyone else?
(remember he has a media background- hence a network)-PUBLICITY,TIME AND CHANCE?

A couple more publications by Koolhaas in this area of Urban Studies(informed or otherwise) establishes him as 'an authority'in this field -NAME RECOGNITION! Corbusier's book on the other hand could not have had this kind of public and far reaching exposure/awareness. TIME!

Let Us not forget that an Architects fame is not solely in the hands of us in this proffession, Public awareness is an 'exponential' factor. This I think sums up my last posting!

Sometime ago, I ventured into an 'investigative retreat'- I really was trying to learn more about Architects and Architecture in Asia but ended up with more information about Libeskind than anyone else.(this was the period of Libeskind's Jewish Museum). Suddenly, it seemed a new 'Libeskind frenzy' was reborn!

Put together this 'rebirth' with his wining the World trade center competition then you would realise that Libeskind's fame is going to increase exponentially ( WTC is destined to be 'HOT NEWS' for the media for a while)
-OPPORTUNITY,PUBLICITY ETC

Whether or not his intervention would be viewed by us proffesionals as being the 'most anything'!-

In arriving at this opinion, I have tried to look at the ISSUE not as an Architect but simply as an individual wiht a general interest in Architecture.

I think this clarifies the angle from which I am trying to contribute to the discussion. Again as always there are other aspects to interesting issues.
Olasupo Jagun
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
Thank you Mr. Jagun, you have described your PUBLICITY factor in much detail. I agree with you on this. If we go a step further, we can divide publicity into two types: 1) Natural publicity and 2)Planned publicity. Lets take Daniel Libeskind's example as you talked about him. He is getting natural publicity from winning the coveted WTC project and if his design is liked by the public, his 'popularity will increase exponentially', to quote your words. However, he is known to be a master of planned and engineered publicity. He plans things to say or do that would give him media coverage. And this has helped him a lot in reaching where he is today, considering the fact that till not very long ago, he was a 'dreamimg' architect whose designs were only good as long as they remained on paper. Libeskind has become good at saying things that his audience wants to hear, whether he means it or not. For example, he said in Denver:(I quote from an article on Libeskind in The New Yorker):

..He (Libeskind) tailors his lines to his audience. ��From the minute I saw the mountains and the light I fell in love with Denver,�� he said last spring to a crowd assembled for a dedication ceremony at the site of the new building for the Denver Art Museum. ��It was not just the light of nature��it was the light in people��s eyes. It is the beauty of the people here, the beauty of their aspirations. Architecture is a civic art, and a museum is not just a container to be filled with treasures; it is a place where people are brought to wonder about the spaces of their own futures. We are creating a complex that will glow, not only with the light of the mountains but with the spiritual.�� The audience, which had not heard him describe the skyline of New York in similar terms, was delighted"

This is planned publicity. Leave an impression in the mind of the public not only with your project, but with words.

What do you think. Mr. Jagun?
Hammad Husain
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
You could also put this question in another light - why are famous architects so old? It takes maturity and the wiles of a cunning old fox, not being Mr. Nice that gets an architect to the pinnacle of fame. Let's face it Howard Roark wouldn't survive in the real world. No one gets fame for burning down their own buildings anymore. Anyway, since Ayn Rand and her meaningless trash is not the issue here, lets talk about fame. Every architect with a sufficient enough practice is popular to a certain degree. where that degree of fame starts and stops is upto the clients to decide. In architecture after all, it's the mass and the mob who make all things real.
Saudha Kasim
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
Mr Kasim, there are some famous architects who haven't had too many clients and who haven't done anything spectacular or high-profile, yet they are famous. For example Zaha Hadid, Leon Krier and even Libeskind - at least till recently. Theoriticians also apparently acquire fame and so do critics. I guess being controversial helps. Being strictly by the book is not spicy enough for the public. Deep down inside, people like controversial, eccentric and outspoken people. That may be one reason why deconstruction got accepted by a lot of people as it challenges order.

By the way who is Ayn?
Hammad Husain
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
Dear Hammad, Ayn Rand is mostly known for her book "The Fountainhead" in which the main character is that of Howard Roarke,who is an architect.However,she is not just a fiction writer-infact her books are based on a unique philosophy which she termed as "Objectivism".She is quite a controversial figure since her philosophy of rational self-interest challenged the mind-sets of most people.

Regards,
rahina.
Rahina Wahid
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
Thanks Rahina, my memory is rusting. I read this book a long time back (as a student) and had forgotten about it completely. time to read it again I guess.

Do you teach at NED, Rahina?

Regards,
Hammad Husain
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
Well, Hammad, no I don't teach at NED. Infact I graduated from there in 2001 and am presently residing in Abu Dhabi.
Regarding Ayn Rand, I am glad you recalled the book. For general interest here are some of the sites that give information about her.
www.aynrand.org/
www.ayn-rand.com
www.aynrandsociety.org

Of course these are just some of the sites about her.Maybe you will find her work interesting.
Rahina Wahid
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
Thanks Rahina. I will definitely look up the sites.

So you are braving the heat and humidity of UAE!

Regards,
Hammad Husain
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
Young friends,

This is addressed to my young friends in schools of architecture.

Well, the question could be turned around more meaningfully to chart out alternative paths to achieve excellence in architecture.

Here is a check-list that may be found useful:

1. Explore climate responsive architecture.
2. Be sensitive to lifestyle of people.
3. Make your architecture socially and culturally relevant.
4. Make appropriate choice of technologies for each part of the project
5. Be austere in use of renewable and non-renewable resources.
6. Aim to generate meaningful work for craftsmen / construction workers.
7. Create architecture that is affordable to common citizen.
8.Involve local community / users actively in the project
9. Encourage participation in all stages of design, construction and development.
10.Innovate and pursue the path of excellence in architecture.

or identify your own 10 or more criteria, articulate your own way of working and follow it in your practice!

If you have faith in the your own values and the path you have chosen, you will be able to create architecture that will be appreciated by people concerned. It will give you immense satisfaction and happiness.

You will be a hero in your own right.
A local hero. We need many more local heroes.

Let awards,media and networks catch you! You will be famous too!

wish you all the success and happiness,

with best wishes,
Prof. Akhtar Chauhan,
Director, Rizvi College of Architecture,
Mumbai, India.
Akhtar Chauhan
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
Great posting! Mr. Chauhan
Real great posting, you have set the direction for us.
Thanks
Arshad Siddiqui
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
Dear Arshad,

Thanks. But the idea was to convince our younger friends that they can choose their directions, individually and or collectively, in their own context and develop a trajectory of their development. If we all can share some directions, it would be wonderful.

The discussion forum provides us a platform and an opportunity to share and exchange our concerns. Let us make the best use of this wonderful tool to shape architecture that all of us can enjoy, and which will provide our people with peace, comfort, safety,utility, good health,identity, pride, character, harmony and happiness in their own living environment!

with best wishes,
AKHTAR
Akhtar Chauhan
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
Yes Mr. Chauhan
I had got your idea. Might be not able to interpret that. But I am wondering did you get me that I am also a student.

Regards
Arshad Siddiqui
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
Dear Professor Chauhan, that was a very informative posting and I'm sure a lot of students will benefit from it.

However I would like to point out the aim of this thread is not to find ways to become famous, but to anlalyse how those who are famous became famous. Whether they followed the 10 points that you have mentioned or did they employ other means. What you have mentioned is the IDEAL way to proceed but is it the most practical way, as far as a practising architect is concerned?

I am not advising or advocating in any way that the IDEAL way should not be followed and people should look for short-cuts, however, I would want those who revere the famous architects to know what way they followed, and then comment upon that. Dr. Salama's analysis in an earlier posting was very accurate and realistic where he has listed the means that a famous architect employes to reach that level of fame. And producing good work was somewhere at the bottom of that list!

This is seeing and understanding reality, as opposed to an ideal situation. Having seen both, one is in a better position to weigh the pros and cons.

Best Regards,
Hammad Husain
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
Dear Hammad,

Thanks for identifying my list as an ideal one!

I want to avoid being drawn into perfecting the other list, for that is not my area of expertise. I respect Dr. Salama's forthright approach and his critical views.

I would like to suggest that we also probe this difference between two approaches in the western countries. One represented by the British who say that Architecture is a profession, while the Americans would like to be more practical in saying that Architecture is a profession and a business.

The first approach restrains architects from advertising, while the second encourages them to use the methods of businessworld to make a success of their enterprise. ( One may refer to the official publications of RIBA, AIA and national institutes of architects in this regards)


It may be of interest to participants in this discussion to draw lessons from other disciplines to steer their way to success such as design, films, fashion-designing, engineering, advertising, marketing, management and to those who wish to venture further philosophy, psychology, sociology, economics, anthropology, history, fine arts, literature, environmental sciences. For most of the famous architects have drawn a lot of inspiration from the related fields.

Let me list down an alternative list of activities:

1. Awareness: Enhancing awarenss about state of architecture, related disciplines and context through sketching, drawing, reading, writing, travelling, photogrphy,films,internet,
meeting friends, critics and other architects and related professionals.

2. Knowledge: To acquire and maintain a state of art knowledge about different aspects of architecture and related disciplines and context. Through education, professional experience ( May be one option is to join famous colleges and famous offices!)and interactions.

3. Surveying the context to understand the social, political, financial, material, technical and physical aspects of reality in which one wishes to practice architecture. To identify the areas, programmes and projects of one's own interest.

4. Analytical abity and tools to categorise, identify, corelate, isolate, disaggregate, select, and to critically review the information gathered from the above 3 points.

5. To select goals and objectives and to set targets to guide one's own path of development. e.g. Wish to become famous in general to becoming famous for creation of distinctive architecture e.g. humane architecture / sustainable architecture / modern / post modern / deconstructivist. One needs a vision or a mission statement written or at the back of one's mind!


6. To chart out a path,a process or a strategy of practice that one would like to follow. Here one has to choose from a whole range from the ideal to the most practical. For all aspects of architects: studies, design, planning, construction, research,theories, practice management.
7. To set up an office or institution or organisation to carry out the activities in the plan of action. To equip the same suitably and developing a team of professionals to be able to deliver the services.

8. To apply the plan, programme and design to the context and implement it as successfully as humanly possible. To fulfil the professional duties as an architect successfully and to meet the needs and aspiration of the clients / users and community. To work really hard at it!

8. To critically monitor, evaluate and revise the path, on daily, weekly, monthly and yearly basis objectively. So that one is not led astray from the path chosen. To correct the path or course if necessary.

9. To experiment, exlore and innovate throughout to further improve, enhance and refine the strategy and action towards the highest goal i.e. excellence in architecture.

10. To communicate the ideas and to interact with people, to participate in the movements, campaigns, competitions, exhibitions and conferences, not only to publicise but more importantly to get the critical feed back for further development of one's own path, designs and methods.

There is a lot that needs to be done to improve courses of professional practice in architectural schools. We need to develop skills and techniques to enable our graduates to manage their expertise, resources, personnel, finance, materials and technologies to optimise/ maximise their returns on investments.

They need to learn the art of managing success and attaining their goals & objectives, including becoming a famous architect!

I have often given the examples of the success of engineering profession and advt and marketing business in this regard.

Engineering broke away in 1750 AD or so to evolve into a modern profession which could meet the challenge of industrial revolution and modern society. Advt and mktg have used multi-disciplinary teams of professionals and designers to deliver critical services to make success of manufacturing, industries and services.

We, the architects have to learn to improve the way we practice and manage architecture and develop our profession to meet the challenge of our time!

More on that later!

with warm regards,
AKHTAR
Akhtar Chauhan
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
Dear Hammad,

Let me go back to the original question. What makes an architect famous? The answer to the first question was given by you in your second question.. of being good but then you added a thought proviking question of being famous as proportional to being good! and..Why are the Japanese architects more famous than architects from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Malaysia etc. ?

First of all I would like to question the assumption itself! Is it true? What is the measure of being more famous. I would like to state that Charles Correa and Balkrishna Doshi are more famous than Isozaki, Kurokawa and Ando. Not because they are Indian architects but from what I understand they have won more awards than the Japanese architects. They may not have built abroad as much as Isozaki and Kurokawa yet, they have a much larger body of work in India itself. I also believe that Hasan Fathy is respected throughout the world among much wider sections of architects than the Japanese. Similarly we have Laurie Baker and Sri Lanka's Geoffrey Bawa, Mexico's Louis Baragan, who are famous in their own right. They have attained their eminence through good architecture rather than any other means. Although I must confess that I have no access to information about their private lives and habits. Nor I am interested, for I believe that is their private domain.

Now, let us ask if these Japanese architects would have been as famous without the political, economic and technological achievements of Japan as one of the industrially developed nation. I would like to propose that they would not have been as famous without the power of Japan. The reason why the works of these Japanese architects are published more often in the western press is because their economies are integrated as part of the world economic order. They can practice in each others country and they can compete in the world market for landmark or prestigious projects.

The architects of the Third World can not compete in this world market on an equal footing due to the lack of technical infrastructure, industrial base and economic power of the advanced nations. But we have our own world in which we can share and compete provided we create conditions for the same, through peace, co-operation and development.

I would now, like to shift to socio-cultural aspects. There is this theory of social progress through certain cultural values. Perhaps, it was Max Waber who proposed that the industrial development of the Western society is rooted in the Christian values. Some of the Third World countries, China, India, Egypt, Mesopotamia & Persia, once upon a time constituted the First World because of their superior socio-economic- politico structure and cultural achievements.We had pioneered the first cities. We had highly developed , Nile, Tigris,Indus valley and harrapan civilizations. Perhaps, the first universities in the world were developed by us. However, during the middle ages, the feudal social structure did not encourage innovation and creativity. Also most of our creativity was focused on the arts and crafts rather than technology and weaponry. We invested our resources in refinement of our arts-"livingry" rather than perfecting our technology and "weaponry", to use Buckminister Fuller&'s terms. As a result, we were simply outgunned in the fields, on the hills and on our coasts. During the colonial period our growth was stunted due to exploitation of our resources by the colonial powers. Yet, we benefited by the English language, new sciences and new political and economic structure. We now have democracy and freedom to plan our economic and social development. Yet in many a third world country there is no democracy and there is a lot of unnecessary controls rather than freedom. This restricts the social and economic development which is finally reflected in limited growth of arts and architecture. So the social and cultural values; and political structures have a great role to play in shaping architecture.

I would like to submit that we have to remove poverty, provide equal opportunity, full employment, ensure social justice and develop social, educational and health care facilities to promote all round development. Imagine if the Chandigarh and Islamabad projects were handled by Indian and Pakistani architects. Perhaps, it would have placed these architects on a world map like Lucio Costa and Oscar Niemeyer of Brazil. So if we initiative a movement to have open and fair architectural competitions for all our public and social projects, as they have in France and so many EU countries, there would be many more local heroes and they may become famous in their own right through good design.

Achyut Kanvinde, Charles Correa and Balkrishna Doshi won several competitions that put them in a top league. Charles Correa proposed the twin city of New Bombay when he was not even 40! There are several younger architects in India who have achieved fame through their creative endeavour. The Aga Khan Award for Architecture has done a great service to our society through promotion of excellence in architecture. So many brilliant designers have won these awards by their creative achievements in their own social contexts. Today, each one of them is a famous architect! I conceived and proposed project awards at the Journal of the Indian Institute of Architects 15 years ago and as a result we have been able to identify many a young designer who was previously unknown at the national level. In the process they have become famous throughout the country. Now we have launched the 2nd IAHH International student design competition on the theme of revitalization of an urban area as a sustainable community. The first IAHH competition on affordable housing for the urban poor attracted 37 entries from 13 countries and unknown teams won the awards! For details, please log on to our website http://www.humanehabitat.org

I strongly believe that while it may be true to an extent that famous people indulge in hedonistic activity, it is not a precondition for success. We need to show the right path to the younger generation. It is our duty to recommend relevant cultural and aesthetic values. We must have long term architectural educational and professional development plans where it is possible for the younger generation to achieve success through their good designs at local and regional levels and provide them the opportunities to contribute to human, social, rural, urban, regional and national development. I would like to suggest that we take the final word of Dr. Ashraf Salama, wherein he states " It is not important to see famous international architects from Asia and Africa. What is really important is solving architectural & urban and rural problems of two continents. Fame will come later when basic needs are satisfied" and conclude this discussion.

with warm regards and best wishes to all the participants in this very intersting discussion,

AKHTAR
Akhtar Chauhan
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
Dear professor Chauhan,

Thank you for a very interesting analysis. I would like to respond to your answer paragraph by paragraph as you have covered a whole range of different ideas. For convenience, I've put your discussion in [brackets]:

[I would like to state that Charles Correa and Balkrishna Doshi are more famous than Isozaki, Kurokawa and Ando.]

I would differ here. Correa is indeed very famous in the region, but he doesnt exercise the kind of world-wide influence that the above mentioned Japanese do. Mr Doshi in my opinion is famous only in India and his influence is much less than Correa.

[I also believe that Hasan Fathy is respected throughout the world among much wider sections of architects than the Japanese.]

Again, Prof Chauhan, its not how much an architect is respected that we are disscussing. For example, Kurokawa is not respected in Japan as much as Isozaki, but that doesnt prevent him from being famous. Whether we like it or not, notoriety is also a kind of fame!


[... if these Japanese architects would have been as famous without the political, economic and technological achievements of Japan as one of the industrially developed nation.]

This is a very important question in the context of this debate. I agree with you to an extent that these factors have an important role to play in making it easier for an architect to become famous.


[The architects of the Third World can not compete in this world market on an equal footing due to the lack of technical infrastructure, industrial base and economic power of the advanced nations. But we have our own world in which we can share and compete...]

Here I would tend to disagree. We cannot create our own little world and be satisfied ccompeting with each other - much like SAF games. We have to compete with the best and the brightest of our profession and aim to beat them. Technology, infrastructure and size of economy are major advantages to westerners and Japanese, but they are not the ONLY factors that make them famouss. So we must remain a part of the world and not confine ourselves to South Asia or Asia.


[Imagine if the Chandigarh and Islamabad projects were handled by Indian and Pakistani architects. Perhaps, it would have placed these architects on a world map...]

That is right, Professor. If our architects had been commissioned instead of Corbusier and Doxiadis, they could have made their name.


[I conceived and proposed project awards at the Journal of the Indian Institute of Architects 15 years ago and as a result we have been able to identify many a young designer who was previously unknown at the national level. In the process they have become famous throughout the country.]

This is very commendable. This is one way to make sure that the creative talent comes up. Unless they are given a fair chance to prove themselves, it may become very difficult for young architects to push their way up. Japanese organisations also encourage their young architects through various competitions, awards and recognition in their press. IAP should start such a programme.

[I would like to suggest that we... conclude this discussion.]

If music be the food of love, play on... (Twelfth night, Shakespeare)

Regards,
Hammad Husain
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
prof. u seem to have a low opinion of third world architects and u say that they cannot compete with the westerners. i believe with this confidence level w e will never be able to compete. we have a long list of great architects from third world. how did they become so great?
Ali Hassan Salameh
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
Hammad,

What are the criteria we are considering when we say that someone is so famous?

You must have reasons to believe that Isozaki is more famous than Correa, I would like to know these reasons or criteria. Let us fix this criteria, and then check with friends, to settle or resolve this issue. Since you initiated the discussion it would be proper if you identify the criteria.

I am not suggesting that architects from the third world should not compete at global level. What I felt was that inherent limitation of technology and organisational support at national / regional / local levels restrains a third world architect from competing with the rest.

For example, it is only when Malaysia built an infrastructure capable of delivering a mix of high tech and appro tech that Ken Yeang could dream and design high rise bio-climatic architecture. or alternatively one designs with the idea of importing technology and construction organisation. In that case, the third world context looses its meaning to a great extent. or like Hasan Fathy and Lauri Baker design with the available resources and evolve appropriate or rediscover vernacular technologies.

I believe that the third world architects have great talent and can compete with the best in the world. Hasan Fathy won the first UIA Gold Medal and Charles Correa was the first Asian architect to win the UIA Gold Medal! They won these awards when architects from world over, including some very famous first world architects, were considered by UIA jury. Bimal Patel of India is perhaps the youngest architect to win the Aga Khan Award for Architecture! Winners of Arcasia Awards have shown the development of regional and contextual Asian architecture. To me these awards are more important than any other awards given by many a commercial organisation. I give greater weightage to this in assessing the relative merits and achievements of architects.

Well, then let the music continue!

with warm regards,
AKHTAR
Akhtar Chauhan
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
O, it came o'er my ear like the sweet sound,
That breathes upon a bank of violets,
(Shakespeare)

Dear Professor Chauhan, thank you for willing to bat through the day and not declare at lunch! (Cricket lingo)

Well, I see your point when you say that we should establish a clear-cut criteria as to who can be called famous. For convenience to the reader I will use 'he' to put across my point instead of he/she.

I would call an architect world-famous if he qualifies for any one or all of the following:

1. Every architect and architectural student in the world is familiar with his name. (eg. Le Corbusier, Frank Lloyd Wright)

2. His work and style and/or theories become part of the curricula of architectural schools all over the world. (eg. Tadao Ando for his work & style and Charles Jencks for his analyses & theories)

3. He has to his credit at least one building that is famous and becomes time-less in the sense that its quoted in magazines and discussions to support arguements and can be found in most magazines of the world. (Norman Foster - Hong Kong Shanghai Bank) More so if the architect's work is covered by non-architecural magazines as well and the general public gets to know his name through that. (Guggenheim at Bilbao by Frank Gehry. It was on Time Magazine's cover)

4. He is regularly invited to international competition juries and events by organisations in all four corners of the world and is an icon of a certain movement - in theory or in practice. (eg. Arata Isozaki - post-modernism in practice, Peter Eisenmann - deconstruction in theory)

5. Gains world-wide publicity or notoriety in media for a building or views or innovations, whether good or bad. (eg I M Pei, for Louvre glass pyramid and Archigram, for unorthodox proposals)

I think these factors should put us on the same wavelength and provide us with the same yardstick when we try to discuss who is famous and who is not. Then the second question would be WHY, although that was the first question initially!! So we have come a full circle!!

Everybody is welcome to contribute. Havent seen Dr. Salama around for quite sometime. It would also add flavour to the discussion if we get participation from fellow-countrypersons of the famous architects who are being discussed here!

Regards,
Hammad Husain
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
* PS: The key-words are WORLDWIDE and WORLD FAMOUS. We will not be discussing regionally or nationally famous architects.

Regards,
Hammad Husain
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
Dear Hammad,

Thanks for identifying your criteria for evaluating famousness of the world famous architects! Now, we need responses from all over the world to check how architects and architectural students perceive the line up of the famous architects! We can not resolve the issue between two of us without their input! Because our views will be subjective to an extent. As can be seen from your postscript that key words are world-famous and world-wide. If you think or imply that Correa and Doshi are only known regionally and nationally, then you are in for a surprise!

Let us draw a list of 25 architects for top ten would be rather too short, and then check their rankings as perceived by responses on ArchNet. I would also like to assume that we mean famous for being good architects not just highly over exposed in the mass media for other activities!

It should be fun and enlightening!

with warm regards,
AKHTAR
Akhtar Chauhan
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
Thank you for your response Professor Chauhan. Actually when I said regional or national, I didnt mean Correa or Doshi, it was a general statement. Japan has many nationally and regionally famous architects. In fact there are some who are probably more famous inside Japan than the world-famous ones.

I agree with you on the list issue. However, being famous would include some who have not neccessarily produced a whole lot of work, like Zaha Hadid and Daniel Libeskind. on the other hand, I would also want to add the historians/analysts like Charles Jencks.

Let me make an attempt at putting together a list.

Hope to hear from you.

Regards,
Hammad Husain
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
Here, for what its worth is my list. A criteria, Hammad forgot to mention is that architects who are famous are recognisable by one name. Thus if you say Gehry, Rem, Moneo, Wright, ect other architects will immediately know who you are talking about. Incidently, Charles Correa is about to go global with a commission soon to be built in Toronto and at MIT. Here then is my list not in any particular order:

Zaha Hadid
Peter Zumthor
Herzog and De Meuron
Frank Gehry
Peter Eisenman
Le Corbusier
Frank Lloyd Wright
Meis van der Rohe
Walter Gropius
Carlo Scarpa
Louis Kahn
Arata Isosaki
Fuhimiko Maki
Tadao Ando
Rapheal Moneo
Diller and Scofidio
Daniel Libeskind
Steven Holl
Renzo Piano
Norman Foster
Jean Nouvel
Mario Botta
Luis Barragan
Alvero Siza
Ken Yeang
Shigaru Ban
Hassan Fathy
Richard Mier
Charles Moore
Micheal Graves
Albert Speer
Robert Venturi
Maya Lin
Baron Haussman
Rem Koolhaas
Shiraz Allibhai
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
Here is a list of those who, in my opinion, are currently the 25 most famous architects of the world.

The top ten are in the order of their world popularity. The criteria is in one of my earlier postings but if anyone has a suggestion on the criteria, please feel free to write. In a nutshell the criteria for being famous is simply being KNOWN all over the world.

This list is my personal opinion although I may have missed a name or two. Please give your ideas as to who should or should not be in this list.


Top 10 (In order of world-wide popularity as of year 2003)

1. Norman Foster
2. Frank Gehry
3. Tadao Ando
4. Michael Graves
5. Mario Botta
6. Peter Eisenman
7. SOM
8. Arata Isozaki
9. Daniel Libeskind
10. Richard Meier

Rest of the top 25 (Not in any order)

11. I M Pei
12. Cesar Pelli
13. Jean Nouvel
14. Helmut Jahn
15. Rem Koolhas
16. Renzo Piano
17. Richard Rogers
18. Charles Jencks
19. Zaha Hadid
20. Charles Correa
21. Hasan Fathy
22. Fumihiko Maki
23. Kisho Kurokawa
24. Kenzo Tange
25. Toyo Ito
Hammad Husain
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
Shiraz that was quick! Your list was ready and posted while I was still thinking hard.

I have only included architects who are currently famous, thus Corbusier and FLW are not in my list, otherwise it becomes a complex analysis!

Your point is good. First name recognition is very important. Like Peter Eisenman is known as - and is famous as - Eisenman.

There are a few namess that were difficult to exclude but I had to make a choice. They were: Herzog and de Meuron, Santiago Calatrava and Rafael Vinoly.

Professor Chauhan? over to you.

Regards,
Hammad Husain
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
Dear Friends,

Rather than making my own list, I ventured on the net and found this on Famous_Architects_Names by popularity!

Eisenmann Peter,
Gehry Frank
Foster Norman
Graves Micheal
Pei I M
Ventury Robert
Koolhaas Rem
Piano Renzo
Calatrava Santiago
Alexander Christopher
Holl Stevan
Liebskind Daniel
Mier Richard
Koneig Pierre
Rogers Richard
Tange Kenzo
Moneo Rafael
Johnson Philip
Roche Kevin
Botta Mario
Logerreta Riccardo
Raje Anant
Tschumi Bernard
Krier Rob & Leon
Maki Fumihiko
Richie Ian
Niemeyer Oscar
Portzamper Christian
Miralles Enrich
Correa Charles
Taniguchi Yoshio
Hollein Hans
Doshi Balkrishna
Fehn Svere
Dietmar Feichtinger

the site is accessible at
www.cbel.com/news

Well, Isozaki does not figure in this list though Tange, Maki and Taniguchi do. Indians included are Raje, Correa and Doshi!

Let us continue our search!

with best wishes,
AKHTAR
Akhtar Chauhan
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
Hammad, I would have included Vinoly and Calatrava and excluded Correa, Tange, Kurokawa and by your criteria Fathy as well. Tange and Kurokawa are no longer recognisable names with students and Correa is still relatively unknown outside of Asia, that will change. I forgot to include my favorite architect on the list; Geoffrey Bawa.
Shiraz Allibhai
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
Shiraz, I guess you are right. Kurokawa is doing a lot of international projects but perhaps he is does not get as much press coverage as many others. I wrote in one of my earlier postings that he is not as widely respected in certain circles in Japan as, say, Maki or Isozaki.

Tange, yes, i agree. In any case, he has handed over his firm to his son, Noritaka Tange who is now the President. Kenzo Tange, who turned 90 last month, now mostly stays home.

Correa, well again, as you said, with his new projects in North America, his name may shoot up, but I think his fame is not as wide-spread yet as the others in the list. Professor Chauhan disagrees with this though.

Vinoly has made it big recently. Infact his first major work was the Tokyo International Forum building that made him (both financially and name-wise! ;-))
Hammad Husain
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
Dear Friends,

It is past mid-night! It is time for me to retire! In the meanwhile, the search will continue, as it must. Thanks, Hammad and Shiraz for your promt input.

Good night / Guten Tag!
AKHTAR
Akhtar Chauhan
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
Dear Prof Chauhan,

Thanks for your continuous input. We will continue our discussion.

By the way, its almost 4.30 in the morning here in Tokyo. I better call it a day too! ;-))

Shiraz must be having a sumptuous lunch now!

Oyasumi nasai (good night)
Hammad Husain
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
It is about 16h30 and I am snacking on a granola bar. I am going to post an old thread about the value of ArchNet, your views would be appreciated there as well.
Shiraz Allibhai
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
i would have added the name of Suha Ozkan of Aga Khan Award for Architecture in this list and also Geoffery Bawa. I have heard of Raj Rewal of India more than Doshi. (haven't seen Doshi's work or read about him.) Have seen a few of Correa's works in books though.
Ali Hassan Salameh
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
Dear friends,

I am down with some fever, hence, not being able to respond in details immediately. However, my list would be drawn from critical awards.

a. UIA Gold Medals
b. Aga Khan Chairman's Award
c. Aga Khan Award for Architecture
d. Regional Awards / CAA Awards/ Arcasia
e. National Awards

Critical recognition by fellow architects (free of any commercial or political consideration )and the community is the best honour that one can aspire to.

I am looking forward to many more lists and postings from our young friends and friends who are still young at heart and in mind!

with warm regards,
Akhtar Chauhan
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
Dear Friends,

Heartiest greetings on the World Day of Architecture and the World Habitat Day!

with best wishes,
Akhtar Chauhan
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
very interesting, though very well argued and can be dibated unending happens to short list leading/famous/worth talking about/exceptionally crafted work generative architects of the time.
Dushyant Nathwani
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
Get well soon Professor Chauhan. Looking forward to your list.

PS. I registered with your discussion forum at Humane Habitat. Got the password today. Will participate there soon hopefully.

Regards,
Hammad Husain
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
Dear Hammad,

While I am working on finalizing my list which is not easy, I would like to submit this list of Pritzker Award winners, 25 in number! It is obvious that their concerns are mostly limited to the issues of architecture in the advanced industrial nations and regions.

PRITZKER AWARDS

1. Philip Johnson,U.S.,1979
2. Luis Barragan,Mexico,1980
3. James Sterling,U.K.,1981
4. Kevin Roche,U.S.,1982
5. Ieoh Ming Pei,U.S.,1983
6. Richard Meier,U.S,1984
7. Hans Hollein,Austria,1985
8. Gottfried Boehm,Germany,1986
9. Kenzo Tange,Japan,1987
10. Gordon Burshaft,U.S.,1988
11. Oscar Niemeyer,Brazil,1988
12. Frank Gehry,U.S.,1989
13. Aldo Rossi,Italy,1990
14. Robert Venturi,U.S.,1991
15. Alvaro Siza,Portugal,1992
16. Fumihiko Maki,Japan,1993
17. Christian de Portzamparc,France,1994
18. Tadao Ando,Japan,1995
19. Rafeal Moneo,Spain,1996
20. Severr Fehn,Norway,1997
21. Renzo Piano,Italy,1998
22. Sir Norman Foster,U.K.,1999
23. Rem Koolhaas,Neatherlands,2000
24. Jacques Herzog and Pierre de
Meuron, Switzerland,2001
25. Glenn Murcutt,Australia,2002

We shall soon compare this with the other lists and attempt to identify the processes in making of famous architects.

I am feeling much better now. Thanks for your getwell message.

with warm regards,
Akhtar Chauhan
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
Dear Hammad,

Here is a list which is very different from the previous one. This is based on the UIA Gold Medals and Prizes.

UIA GOLD MEDALS

1. Hasan Fathy,Egypt,1980
2.Reima Pietela,Finland,1987
3.Charles Correa,India,1990
4.Fumihiko Maki,Japan,1993
5.Rafeal Moneo,Spain,1996
6.Ricardo Logerreto,Brazil,1999
7.Renzo Piano,Itlay,2002

UIA AUGUSTE PERRET PRIZE
1. R. Piano,Italy,1975
2. R, Rogers,U.K.,1975
3. G. Benisch,Germany,1981
4.Joao Baptista Vilanova Artigas, Brazil,1984
5.Santiago Calatrava,Spain,1987
6. Adien Fainsilber,France,1990
7. KHR AS Architekten,Denmark,1993
8. Thomas Herzog,Germany,1996
9.Ken Yeang,Malaysia,1999
10.Sir Norman Foster,U.K.,2002

UIA ROBERT MATHEW PRIZE
1. John Turner,U.K.,1978
2. Hasan Fathy,Egypt,1981
3. Charles Correa,India,1984
4. Housing reconstruction programme of the city of Mexico, Mexico 1987
5. Department of Architecture of Singapore Housing & Dev. Board, Singapore 1990
6. Laurie Baker,U.K. / India,1993
7. Prof. Giancarlo De Carlo,Italy,1996
8. Martin Trebersprug,Austria,1999
9. Justine Kilcullen,Irelands,2002
10.Jaime Lerner,Brazil,2002

UIA JEAN TSCHUMI PRIZE

1.R.Banham, U.K. 1975
2.Recotory & Faculty of Arch, Univ of Lima, Peru, 1978
3.Neville Quarry, Austalia, 1981
4.Julius Posener, GDR 1984
5.C. Norberg-Schutz, Norway 1987
6.A.L.Huxtable, USA 1987
7.Eduard Franz Sekler, Austria 1990
8.Eric Kumchew Lye, Malaysia, 1993
9.Peter Cook, U.K. 1996
10.Liangyong Wu, P.R.of China, 1996
11.Juhani Pallasmaa (Finland),1999
12.Manuel Tainha (Portugal),2002
(for architectural education)
13.Elias Zenghelis (Greece),2002
(for architectural criticism)

One can select 25 famous architects from among these achievers by taking a cutting off date as 1980 or so.

I would like to make the critical observation that this list does not contain Isozaki, Kurokawa and Ando.
It has Maki! If look at the earlier data, it is seen that some of the earlier Japanese architects like Tange were more famous, than the current ones, in their own time!

Charles Correa figures in the list as early as 1984 and he wins the UIA Gold Medal in 1990.

The UIA Gold Medal list is headed by Hasan Fathy!

Fathy, Pietila, Correa, Maki and Piano have won UIA Gold Medals for their creative contribution like so many other prize winners. That is why they are so famous! ( Surely, not because of any other reasons, such as partying or chasing media /politicians etc.)

Now the real problem is that the people in media, do not have so much time to invest and to research, to find out who is doing real good work,and who deserves to be given due publicity and importance. They pick up names, and many a time they are paid to publicise the names, and there we have so called high profile celebrities in different fields. The real achievers are overshadowed in the process.

It is our duty to set criteria to identify the really good architects who deserve to be identified as famous
and to analyse their philosophies / theories / concepts/ ideas/ design methods/ choice of technology/ work- ethics /communication strategies/ office organisations / writings/ project management / and will to achieve excellence.

In the process we may learn some creative and meaningful lessons in our serach for excellence in architecture.

Next, would be the list drawn from the Aga Khan Awards for Architecture and that would show that architects from ourside of the world are equally famous!


with warm regards,
Akhtar Chauhan
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
Dear Hammad,

Here is the list of some very famous architects who have been associated with the Aga Khan Award for Architecture.

100 famous architects of the world

AGA KHAN AWARD FOR ARCHITECTURE: CHAIRMAN'S AWARDS

1. Hasan Fathy
2. Rifat Chadirji
3. Geoffrey Bawa

AGA KHAN AWARD FOR ARCHITECTURE :
STEERING COMMITTEE MEMBERS

1. Hasan Fathy
2. Charles Correa
3. Kenneth Fampton
4. Frank Gehry
5. Zaha Hadid
6. Ali Shuaibi
7. Darab Diba
8. Dogal Hasol
9. Ricordo Logerreta
10. Glenn Murcutt
11. Raj Rewal
12. Mohammed Arkoun
13. Ismail Serageldin
14. Abdel el Wakil
15. Balkrishna Doshi
16. Hans Hollein
17. Robert Venturi
18. Charles Jencks
19. Peter Eisenman
20. Alwar Siza
21. Geoffrey Bawa
22. Romi Khosla
23. Arata Isozaki
24. Dogan Tekeli
25. Nayar Ali Dada
26. Sedad Hakki Elden

And many others distinguished architect members of AKAA Steering Committee and Jury.

AGA KHAN AWARD FOR ARCHITECTURE

+ All the AKAA winners from different parts of the world. For detail lists, please log in http://www.akdn.org

Each one of them has contributed to the cause of excellence in architecture. Some of them have won awards, while others have been on the Steering Committee and Master Jury.

I firmly believe that they have achieved this distinction through their creativity, professionalism and good work.

We can learn so much from each one of them in order to chart out and pursue one's own path of excellence in architecture.

These are architects from different parts of the world, belonging to different faiths and value systems.
Yet, they are united and work in harmony for the cause of excellence in architecture and ,therefore, are the most famous!

Let the new generations of architects be inspired to continue this quest in their own ways and contribute to further development and enrichment of architecture.

We have to send this message of hope for peace, harmony and development,through a quest for excellence in architecture.

with warm regards,
Akhtar Chauhan
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?

Akhtar,

One can also see all the Award winning projects and publications of the Award by entering the AKAA Institutional Workspace on ArchNet or by going to the Digital Library and looking for Aga Khan Award Winner.

 

Shiraz Allibhai
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
Dear Shiraz,

Thanks. It is indeed a window to the real and beautiful world of architecture. We all are proud of the achievement of the Award winners. AKAA has been my constant source of inspiration. The idea of Project Awards of Journal of the Indian Institute of Architects was inspired by the Aga Khan Award for Architecture.

This year 15th annual awards are being given, from this year they are to be known as IIA Awards. Many a new talent is discovered and many innovative and relevant ideas spread all around.

Thank you for this wonderful opportunity to interact on archnet!

with warm regards,
Akhtar Chauhan
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
hi
interesting discussion going on but seems that hammad and prof are trying to discuss a topic but are on different wavelengths. no criteria seems to have been set to at least what kind of list is being debated here. hammad and shiraz gave the list of architects they think are famous in the world and prof has prof has downloaded various lists from websites and copy pasted them. however whose list is what, remains unclear. its like oranges and apples.

but prof, i think u r stuck on the correa issue. and the isozaki issue. is it some kind of a competition or what? i can see correa's name in every list u provide. but does that prove that he is more famous? i thing both parties should stop this little "is correa famous or isozaki" debate and move the discussion in a more constructive direction. otherwise just hold a poll of members and u will get a result. dowloading websites (which support your point of view) may not help in proving your point. i can download a site where an unknown egyptian architect can be shown as the best... so websites are no measure of an architects popularity or prowess.

thanks
Ali Hassan Salameh
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
Dear Ali Hasan Salameh,

I have already defined why I consider recognition by fellow professionals as the key criteria.

The different organisations have different criteria and contexts. These lists bring out certain inherent processes.

I found that Pritzker prize reflects the contexts and issues of the highly industrialised countries and regions.

International Union of Architects lists shows a greater balance and range of concerns. As a result architects from developed as well as developing world are represented in a balanced manner.

The list based on Aga Khan Award for Architecture reflects the concern for regional context,traditional
/appropriate /contemporary architecture, humane, social and environmental concerns.

These lists show some names who appear more consistently than others, like e.g. Hasan Fathy, Charles Correa, Geoffrey Bawa, Fumihiko Maki.

The reason why I have pointed out certain facts is because sometimes our perception is based on our immediate environment and the reality may be a little different. It has nothing to do with personalities.

I have presented these lists as examples to support two key issues:

a. Why architects from developed world are highly publicised and therefore appear to be more famous.

b. How architects from the developing countries have achieved excellence through addressing the issues rooted in their context, culture, climate etc.
they are not based on my subjective perception.

The objective is simple, to stregthen the viewpoint that it takes a lot of creativity, intelligent work and commitment to certain issues to achieve excellence in architecture.Rather than point out certain habits and patterns which appear to be short cuts to achieve success, which may be misinterpreted by the younger architects and students.

It is my duty to state the facts, however, inconvenient it may appear to some.

Instead of taking a mechanistic view of the process followed, as expressed in the comment about cut and paste, one could have taken a wholistic view, to find evidence, identifying relevant data,co-relating,analysing,reviewing and deepening one's own understanding of the issues.

One is free to draw whatever conclusion one wants to from these lists and criteria.

You views are well taken and respected.
Thanks for your frank comments.

regards,
Akhtar Chauhan
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
What a fascinating debate on what makes an architect famous. It reminded me that during my entire architectural education we were never lectured on contemporary Turkish architects but a lot on contemporary American and European architects. In those days (the 70s) being part of a movement was also reasons to be known. We were introduced to Corbusier as the one who coined modern movement, Wright as the one who coined organic architecture etc. In other words there was this attempt to classify the world of architecture in some order and fit people into it.

Hassan Fathy was brought to the University by Suha Ozkan to teach a studio. Nobody knew he was a good architect. We all liked him for his wonderful personality and adored the way he drew but our eyes were cast for the West and to become like the well known western architects. Only by mid 70's through the Shelter and Society series written by Paul Oliver and some more anthropological and vernacular architecture books such as by Amos Rappoport we began to see a different world. I remember the motto after that discovery was what was in the intro of Amos Rappoport's book that " 90% of world's buildings were not designed by architects". I must say our discovery of the non-western and no star architect architecture was again through some more sensitive and broader viewed western scholars and not our own discovery. I think the schools of architecture in the 70s were, and may be even today, more keen to recycle the 20 top architects that the whole world is talking about rather then venturing into lesser known and the local ones.

(Contributed in an email from Yasemin Aysan)
Shiraz Allibhai
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
Yasemin Aysan Hanim, Yazdiginiz icin tesekkur ederim. fikriniz cok mantikli ama bu forumda yazmaniza tercih ederiz. Bu tartisma gercekten cok enteresan oldu ve cok onemli bir soruya cevap ariyoruz. Sizin dusuncelerinizden yararlanabiliriz.

What we need is to first find the answer to the initial question and then proceed to find ways that would enable architects of the third world to become as well-known in the world as the architects mentioned above. And being well-known means that many more international projects, which would increase our exposure.

Hope to hear from you.

Regards,
Hammad Husain
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
hello every one,

i think this issue has got many hits....
so i too join with some questions...what does one mean by the word... famous(architect)?
what if one is really good and not famous(as per the criterias defined by earlier responders)--- will his ideas, realisations, theory, architecture(if he has been lucky to build some)....ie the body of his work not be respected, looked at for inspiration/to understand and go beyond?
i think if one does architecture/has realisations, then it belongs to the world thereon.
so what does it matter if one is famous/not, has done big/small works, done projects in developed/undeveloped country, won awards/not, invited to confrences/not......as along as one does 'ARCHITECTURE' or has redefined 'ARCHITECTURE' to the world and goes on with the re/search.
he will registed a place in history/time (may be just a mention at times) but will always be looked at with respect by the comming generations of architects (intrested to learn/do 'ARCHITECTURE').
Harish Setty
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
Dear Harish,

Very interesting! Your ideas are clear and reflect a commitment to good architecture. Hammad's query is to identify factors that enable architects to become "world-famous". Perhaps, you can explore this question and come up with some interesting ideas and views.

I was also wondering that it may be helpful if we can also identify the factors or activities that make architects "infamous" so that we dont mix up these two categories!

or are there some activities that are common to these two categories???

with best wishes,
AKHTAR
Akhtar Chauhan
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
maybe we can try to ponder over what you have said prof. and discuss reasons why a lot of architects who are good dont get famous.
Ali Hassan Salameh
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
Dear Ali Hasan Salameh,

Yes, why not? But, in order to make further progress in the discussion, other participants have to make critical contributions. Or else it becomes more repetitive and perhaps boring too!

There are many architects who are good in their own work but are satisfied with the appreciation in their own locality / areas. They do not seek nor they get any other publicity. As a result their work remains unknown to the rest of the world.

There are good architects who do not wish to enlarge their scope of activities to projects of national and international importance. They never participate in national and international competitions. They never respond to the invitations by the concerned authorities for empanelment of architects and as a result their work is restricted to the local levels.

There are good architects who never write about their own architecture. They do not like others writing about their architecture. They want to remain secluded and unknown for some reasons! Their work is never reviewed by fellow architects and mostly remains unawarded and unappreciated.

There are good architects who never photograph their buildings. They never show their work through slides-shows even at local schools.

There are good architects who do not participate in local / provincial / national / international conferences or seminars and their work is never presented at these events. So they never become known world-wide.

Perhaps, all this has something to do with one's own social and inter-personal behaviour or social-psychology. Perhaps it has something to do with our genes or chemicals / hormones that our body secretes or releases or our biological make up!

It may be that there are social, economic and political reasons in a given country/ region, where good architects do not wish to become more famous.

In a country like Japan, there is this great desire to excel in all fields of human knowledge, arts, crafts, sciences and technologies. One of the reason is that they have never forgiven themselves for their defeat in the world war II. They have risen from ashes to prove their creative abilities. They have perfected the art of management of their resources, knowledge and business. As a result, one finds them achieving higher levels of productivity, creativity and success in all the fields not just architecture. There is fierce competition and on-going quest for excellence. They are not satisfied just being good, they want to be the best, not only in their own city or province or country but in the world. The japanese architects who participated in the world design conference in 1960 or the world expo in 1970 and world olympic games looked way ahead of their time! In 1960, the Japanese industry, political leadership, universities, architects, contractors and business persons joined hands to become a leading design nation and in 1970 they consolidated their position further. They surveyed and analysed the world scene and learnt their lessons. e.g. While Archigram was designing their futuristic vision in UK, the Japanese were inspired by them and went ahead implementing some of the ideas in world expo! There are several design and architectural magazines that specialise in reporting contemporary international trends and movements. There is a constant effort to keep abreast with the world leaders. This keeps the Japanese architects well informed about the current developments in the world. They implement their findings in their new designs, products and development strategies and achieve greater successes. No wonder that many of them, including several architects, become world-famous as a result!

Perhaps, Hammad Hussain can enlighten us with more details for he is in Tokyo! I will be missing the opportunity for being there this week-end for UIA Arch Edu validation committee meeting, for lack of funding from our national institute or the UIA!
It would have been great meeting Hammad in Tokyo! Well, some other time and place, we shall meet for sure!

with best wishes,
Akhtar Chauhan
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
Interesting topic an excellent comments so far- my view (not at the exclusion of earlier opinions) is that some architects are famous because they learn to do 'the dance of commercial reality'.(business management, markettng, staff selection, cashflow management, company strategy/growth etc)
Naturally they have to be good designers to start with - but this step - almost turning themselves into a product - is the stepping stone to fame.
Others choose not to do this.
Justin Meek
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
First of all, marketing.. Famous Architects are better in marketing.. and design.. basically needs gutts.. you have to have ego, and gutts to tell the clent and the world thats my style.
I was lucky to have charles correa and Balkrishna Doshi lecture in same year at my school.. Doshi was much better friendly with crowd then correa.. it's marketing.. also if you do unsual design, people tends to talk and more talking makes you more famous.
Pikesh Desai
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
Dear Professor Chauhan. Interesting point by point analysis of why many good architects dont get to get famous. I agree with all your points. I know w e need more participants in this discussion. Its good to see two new entrants here, Justin and Pikesh.

Regarding the architects of Japan, I would like to add here that there seems to be a huge gap between the famous architects and an average architect in terms of their architecture. The general cityscape of Japan is very average-looking. In my opinion, there are two resons for this.

1. The construction industry in dominated by Construction companies which have their own in-house architecture departments. A lot of major large-scale projects are done by these construction comapnies on a turn-key basis and profits dictate the design. So in most cases, their designs remain very average.

2. There seems to be a large gap between what the top-level architects produce and what all the others design. Without sounding judgemental, I have observed that the standard of an average Japanese architect is very ordinary. They are somehow bound by building laws, typical planning and standard building materials that everybody tends to be using in the same way. In short, I see a lack of creativity in a lot of buildings in Tokyo and Kyoto and thats what a visitor sees and thinks that Japanese architecture is nothing to write home about.

however, the buildings of most of the famous architects are easily distinguishable and stand out. (Ofcourse there are exceptions where one sees a Maki or a Tange building and wonders if its actually their design!)

So in Japan's case, it wouldnt be wrong to say that the famous architects are at the same the best designers! And they are famous because they are the best in Japan! But how they compare with the best of other countries is a different matter - and thats where other factors seem to play an important part including what Mr. Chauhan, Mr. Justin and Mr. Pikesh have pointed out.

Mr. Chauhan, it would have been nice to meet you here in Japan. Hopefully i will make it to one of your annual events at Rizvi College soon.

Best Regards,
Hammad Husain
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
Dear sir
Yoyr reponses are:
1-New ideas in architecture
2-Working for God
3-Architecture for human
Amir Hossein Khalaj Mehri
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
I would like to take up Akhtar's point about architects not publicising their work, photographing their buildings, or lecturing at local schools. (This is my not so obvious plug for ArchNet). We now have a forum on ArchNet for the work of lessor known architects to be shown on an international scale. In fact, we are about to start an expiriment with Dr. Nasser Rabbat, Aga Khan Professor of Islamic Architecture, MIT, to collect information from our members worldwide about local architects that are producing good work. We would like to showcase their work on ArchNet. Architimes in Pakistan started a series of interviews with Pakistani architects, which I believe is so important. The tools are available, all it will take is a committment from our members to participate and contribute. Sorry to go slightly of course with this discussion.
Shiraz Allibhai
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
Dear Mr. Amir hossein KHalaj mehry,

Thank you for your valuable comments. But I didnt understand how working for God makes an architect famous? I'm at a loss so please enlighten me.
Hammad Husain
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
Shiraz, it will be a great service by Archnet if works of lesser known architects are compiled and shown to the world. A lot of good architects who are producing good work don't have a solid platform to show their work and gain appreciation. ArcNet can provide that platform.

ArchiTImes in Pakistan is indeed doing a great service for the profession by publishing interviews of architects of the senior genertaion, most of whom are not well-known in the country.

I fully support this plan of Archnet.
Hammad Husain
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
hello prof Akthar chavan

i feel i am a bit too slow in responding to the questions...but in the end it does not matter...as the disscussions are going on...
so i shall try answering the question..qualities/things
that make a famous architect.

but..what i am (one should be) conserned is not
just famous architect, but rather a great architect.(i.e. at times
fame comes to some architects late, eg. Mies, Kahn, Barragan...)
so i will rather prefer/try jotting some points/qualities that make a
an architect great/famous.

1. being (just) famous is not necessary one of the qualities of an
great architect.
2. someone who wins an/some international competitions...against huge number of entries/particiapants.
2. somone who questions the program ( of the clients/competition's requriments...program, format)...and all that one unquestioninly follows...i see this as accident/that helps one to rethink..to define 'ARCHITECTURE' all over "AGAIN" for the first time....
accidents create a great building - all sorts of accidents(ie, the jury is ready to throw away the general guidlines of the competition, the client has a big heart/open budget, the city or its people are open to have a dialouge with the wining entry/architect....) only happen with great architects.
3.some one who has an ego of an higest order......and exploits everyone(without they knowing that they are being used), every conditions for his end/architecture.
4. someone who practices critically - i.e. from the point to develop a
language other then the everyday type, discourse or to find newer
operational sites of technique or attempts theoretical constructs.
Theory (here - in a contempoary sense) can be seen as an abstraction
- a way of thinking, and practice in turn can be understood as the
object of the theory. Since "practice is not a static construct",
so if there is no theory, there is no practice - i.e. practice is a
way of doing things, a theory in itself...architecture.


Qualities of an unfamous architect....

1. one who bends, scums to small pleasures (of doing things/ making
buildings)
2. one who practices/teaches what he has been thought and not what
he has found out/realised in the course of the time.
3. one who does not have any theory to support his practice/way of
doing things....and when ones questions - why he does things the
way he does...he goes on to say, that the people/client likes it.

the above mentions qualities are not necessary in the order of
importance. all said and done i feel that every one/architect,
one day gets his 15 minutes of being famous. but only great architects
(ie, there body of work) will be talked about in the time to come.
Harish Setty
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
Reading all your notes and openions and points of discussions i only want to humbly rephrase some of your reasons
first, the word time. You need the economical factor mainly imperial art and architecture(state devolpment) as I would like to name it. It is not normal clients that gives the architectural exposure.

Second, mistakes are common but the concept in the design may survive a lot of mistakes


Third, it is the people that make an architect famous and not us the Architects (critics of owrselves and others in the same profession I call this the architects curse)

Last, sometimes you you come in the right time and have the talent and get the oppertunity but fail to design the outstanding building you intended to and that is the end of it.
Ahmed Sabry
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
Dear Shiraz,

Sorry for not being able to respond immediately to your very important idea about showcasing the good work of architects from different parts of the world. It would be a great service to the cause of good architecture. I would like to emphasize on the need for scouting local talent. It is the duty of all those who appreciate good architecture that they identify such projects and architects, and bring such work to the notice of the world and society at large. Aga Khan Award for Architecture has been engaged in this search since its inception. The AKAA has done a great service to the cause of improvement of the quality of living environment. Many regional awards such as ARCASIA,national awards such as JIIA in India and local awards have drawn their inspiration from AKAA. I would also like to suggest that the award winners, particularly those who have won such awards for the first time, should be invited to local, national and regional events and their work should be widely published in architectural and general press. Most important aspect is, not to merely encourage the concerned architects but to highlight the issues involved. In the process the common citizens and different client-groups become more enlightened about the qualitative aspects of architecture. As a result of all such actions it is hoped that we shall be able to evolve a more humane, socially relevant, regionally and locally appropriate, sustainable and innovative architecture. It would be a good "spinoff" of the current discussion! Perhaps, hundreds of new heroes would be discovered from all around the world! They will be become famous in their own right! We shall be looking forward to such projects on the ArchNet!

Hammad, it would be great to have you, as well as all other participants in the discussion, at Rizvi College of Architecture for the forthcoming ICHH 2004 during Jan 30-Feb 1, 2004!

with warm regards,
Akhtar Chauhan
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
Thank you for the invitation professor Chauhan. What is the normal procedure for inviting guests? Do you send a letter to the Indian Embassy for visa etc. Actually none of us could get the Indian visa last year for Arcasia. Every architect I meet in Japan asks me why there was nobody from Pakistan in the last Arcasia summit. IIA didnt send a letter to the Indian Embassy in Islamabad and thats why we couldnt travel.

I will try my best to come. By the way are you,Professor Chauhan, or anyone in this forum going to Dhaka for Arcasia summit in December this year?
Hammad Husain
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
Dear Hammad,

We shall do the needful so that architects from Pakistan can participate. Both the governments are keen to enlarge cultural, professional and business interactions and enhancing peace prospects. We had delegates and students from Lahore in 2000. They had exclaimed that it was their most memorable conference! We require detail cvs of the invited guests, which you may please send us via e mail at ichh2004@humanehabitat.org / ichh2004@hotmail.com

There are situations when one finds it almost impossible, but those who have faith do not give up. We had a large group of Pakistani architects for 4th Asian Architects Congress and Arcasia 1990. Two years later it was rather difficult to get visas for the 5th Asian Congress of Architects which was being held at Lahore. IIA president tried his best and then gave up on visas. I decided to go personally to Delhi and found out that it was not impossible! I used the services of a courier company and got our visas on our desk in Mumbai. We made it to Lahore a day later but it was wonderful.
I presented a paper on humane architecture in India at the conference. We were granted extension of our visas to travel around but due to my colleagues bad health, we decided to return early. Getting seat on the flight seemed impossible, but one of our friends called up his school mate who was flying the PIA aircraft that day, and we were accommodated on the flight! It was a memorable visit and I cherish the experience.

So all the participants on this forum should continue their quest, through interactions and discussions, meeting and travelling across the boundaries, and never give up hope and faith! Architecture for peace and development!

Now, that is one of the ways architects become famous!

with warm regards,
Akhtar Chauhan
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
Dear Mr Husain, I can only ad that, by starting this very topic, you are becoming more and more famous! And it won't take you long before you truly become world's famous architect... Then, I will ask you what is it that you have in yourself!
Ljubica Jovanovic
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
hi Ljubica, you are using your icq with a fictitious name? ;-) and that too from vietnam? by the way just 4 information, babylon was not in yemen... as your icq info says.

cheers
Ali Hassan Salameh
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
Well.You have said it, Ljubica! I would say that like our friend Dr. Ashraf Salama,Mr. Hammad Husain is a world-famous architect already! Now, does he have to tell you, how he became a famous one?

Are there any more insights into this question from other colleagues?

with best wishes,
Akhtar Chauhan
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
I doubt that being famous would be a target, goal, or a driving force to anyone, at least here on Archnet. Being a true contributor, supporter, and offering help and probably guidance are a key!!

Continuous discussion and debate, raising good questions, exploring new problems, and exploring and introducing solutions to those problems have nothing to do with "Fame."!! There are other mechanisms to reach that goal or achieve it, which I have posted in my first intervention on this thread!
Ashraf Salama
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
I seem to have missed out on a few comments here in the last couple of days! Dr. Salama is absolutely right. Our aim here is to generate discussions, learn from the participants and vent our thoughts. I have learnt a lot by disussing different issues, or by just reading the discussions. Infact I have saved the entire thread on Islamic Architecture in my hard disk for ready reference in my writings. It was discussed a few months back and there are some very interesting and enlightening comments.

So Mr. Chauhan and Ms. Ljubica, my asking a question about famous architects doesn't imply that I am trying to be famous. If a question reflects a person's want, then what where would you fit in "destruction of architecture'? The poster is interested in destroying architecture?

I think out of all the 80 odd replies in this thread, the most comprehensive is the one given by Dr. Salama at the beginning of the thread.. which he has referred to in his previous posting also. Infact the question was more or less thoroughly answered in that reply.

Regards,
Hammad Husain
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
I strongly agree with you you Mr. Hammad. Raising questions regardless of whether or not people will be interested in is important and should not be loaded with other intentions.

The destruction of architecture is not an interest, it was only stimulating discussions for issues and facts that continued to be un-debatable, oversimplified and ignored.
Ashraf Salama
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
Thats right Dr. Salama. A topic or a question, however controversial or different or unorthodox it may be, cannot and should not be used to understand the intentions of the person who puts forth the question. Neither should it be used to make judgements about the person as a question cannot reflect a person's personality. At best, it can reflect a person's inquisitive mind and his want to understand issues which are not discussed by critics or magazines.
Hammad Husain
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
Dear Ashraf and Hammad,

It seems you did not take our light hearted comments lightly! In a long drawn discussion, we also require some relief! No one doubts your sincerity and commitment. No one has ascribed any ulteriour motive or other intentions to you. We all have enjoyed the discussion and participated whole-heartedly. Which is the best proof that we can present of our appreciation! Please take it easy!

with warm regards,
Akhtar Chauhan
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
Friends,

This one is a bit serious! Whether we like it personally or not, any public activity, depending upon its relevance and intensity, is likely to bring "fame" to the actors and participants involved! It is upto the receiver of the message or communication or image or bits of info to decide and to consider the persons as famous or not. They, actors or participants, have no control over it, for good or bad! It is immaterial whether they want to be famous or not. Their activities, views,ideas, works, projects and lifestyle is in public domain. It is upto the others to confer the status being "famous" to them! I would like to distinguish "famous" from being "infamous" although in popular media the distinction is often blurred.
This is why there are so many good architects who do not want to publish, speak or communicate about their works and ideas. They are really wary of being labelled as "famous". We can not control the minds of people. The discussion forum being a public domain has all the possibilities of making some actors and participants famous, whether they like it or not! One act, one book, one comment, one project, one work, one public appearance in a meeting, seminar, conference may make one famous or infamous for good or bad!
It is understood by all the participants in the discussion forum, that the main purpose of the forum is to debate and discuss the subject and issues to create greater awareness and understanding about the same. So let the discussion continue for good! I would like to celebrate the 100th hit on the subject.

I am also saving all the discussions that I am participating for not only my records but for general discussion in the college and with colleagues. That shows that I value this discussion tremendously!

with best wishes,
Akhtar Chauhan
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
We are on the same page and same wave length, Perhaps, I did not get your point. My best.
Ashraf Salama
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
now this is getting interesting. first it was a correa-isozaki duel, now its another duel. im enjoying this bit, folks. but i agree with u here prof. your comments did seem light-hearted, unless they were meant otherwise. s o guys, just chill.

so prof, r u discussing these issues with your students? why dont u ask them to join archnet and join the discussion?

so where is our babylonian friend? who thought babylon is in yemen? lol

cheers
Ali Hassan Salameh
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
Dear Ali,

Oh,my students! They are too busy, perhaps. Once the President of the students council said to me, "Sir, you have only architecture to do, we have so many other things to do!" Right now, they are busy with studies and research for their NASA ( National Association of Students of Architecture)projects like most of the Indian schools of architecture. They have to do research on Indo-sarcanic architecture for Louis Kahn trophy, analyse contemporary project, study a complex for Hudco project and prepare their portfolios of sessional work etc. All the studies and projects shall be presented at the national convention where more than 70 colleges participate and more than 3000 students gather for their annual convention! While this activities excites and stimulates their imagination, they produce some stunning drawings and design interesting projects which are worth keeping in national museums, there are academics who find this as deviation from studies! So there is a struggle, as the head of the college I am always caught in the cross-fire! The students of RCA are joint winners of Le Corbusier for their best overall performance and they won Hudco trophy too. Ibrahim Sitabkhan, a RCA finaly year student, is the President of NASA for 2003.

Like when we discussed this issues of what makes famous architects in the class, most of them gave positivist answers, saying good quality of architecture and excellence in design is a must for being a famous architect, but Girish Pillai, President of student council said that there are other aspects to it, such as listed by Dr. Salama! He had a mischievous smile on his face that said it all that could not be said!

I am hopeful that some of them will find time to be active on the ArchNet soon!

with best wishes,
Akhtar Chauhan
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
These forums acts more like think tanks where every body is increasing his awarness of certain subjects and the collective minds of all contributing to this discussions becomes one (trying to find the truth or the solutions). At least that is how i fell reading these discussions.

There is nothing wrong that an Architect aspires fame as it is not the fame in itself that he is after. In fact we can say how can an Architect get more jobs? which is what this is all about.
We have the honor of fulfilling the dreams of people to build something and in the process spending a huge chunk of there well earned money so they will always go for a famous architect (safe bit) more than to an unknown one.
Again Architects are not after fame they are after there work being aknowleged.
So if trying to be great and famous is a crime I think the whole society of architeture should be guilty of it. Or at least try.
Ahmed Sabry
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
Dear Ahmed,

Well said. Yes, indeed this forum is like a think-tank. It also provides us an opportunity to learn from each other about subjects of our interest. More importantly, it gives us an opportunity to communicate and in the process relate to each other. In this way, it consolidates us as a community.

Your idea of architect seeking recognition and jobs is interesting. Let me attempt to chart the trajectory of an architect seeking creative expression. This is based on the lecture that I gave after discussing this issue of being good and famous with my students.

The architects are creative and talented professionals. The process begins with awareness of one's own talent or an early recognition by the family, teachers or friends. A student or child is identified with this talent ( early drawings in primary / secondary schools or interests in buildings), and then guided towards studies in architecture. This creative talent fuels the creative urge within, that guides the persons to acquire greater skills, knowledge and expertise in the art and science of architecture. This is further strengthened by recognition in the school of architecture ( best design in the class) or in the family / community ( best drawings in the neighbourhood). The achievements in the schools for being one of the top designers or top ranking students, propels the student to strive harder. The award or scholarships encourages such students to excel further. The quality of their designs and design thesis is an early indicator.

Later on these students head for higher studies in reputed institutions or seek further experience in reputed practices.They are always looking for opportunity to take up independent projects, small works/any project - it may be interiors or small buildings, where they give their best to be recognised as a good designer. They express their ideas to friends, which helps them in getting early recognition among the group as a thinking and creative architects. They often write on issues and publish these ideas and projects in newspapers or magazines. The issues they select to focus and the goals and objectives they articulate and principles they follow are crucial to their further development. This brings them further appreciation and contacts. They establish their practice only after they are confident that they have the necessary experience and know-how. They put in extra effort and invest a lot of creativity. They are constantly reading, writing, sketching, studying on their own, ( Le Corbusier carried his sketchbook in his pocket all the time) about the movements in architecture and keep themselves aware about the leading architects in the field of their interest. ( Like Japanese architects were following Archigram group more closely than their British colleagues). Some are keen on thinking-creative architects or some others on more successful-practical commercial practices. They interact with society at several levels, through clubs, societies, associations, groups and personal friend-circle. They participate in the competitions and some of them win awards. They become more known. They participate in national and international events and competitions, and soon they are known in architectural circles nationally and internationally. They win awards in international competitions and get projects where they can express their creative urge, the most critical resource of an architect.The media notices them or it is contacted by them to give wider publicity to their ideas and works. They are now known globally!

They write books, design projects, participate in invited competitions, corporate and public sector seeks their creativity in getting landmark projects designed by them,. They get more creative and challenging projects. They continuously develop their ideas into a state of art and philosophy. They perfect their techniques and methodologies. They develop distinctive expression in architecture. More invitations to talk, discuss, competitions, juries, exhibitions,publications and channels follow. More architects, academics,students, critics, corporate and public sector clients and general public come to know about them and their ideas. They are now world-famous!

Once they have reached this height of success, they put in extra effort to research and evolve their architecture further to stay there or move ahead. They are never satisfied ( Once Kenzo Tange was asked to identify his best project, promptly he replied that the next one!). They want more works, new challenges and further recognition follows. The appreciation that they get from fellow architects ( it is reported that when Le Corbusier died, Kahn expressed " now, for whom would I build?") and society further boosts their resolve. It is their creative urge and their own awareness of their creative ability ( Frank Llyod Wright could say that he was the greatest architect of all time !), which is their constant source of energy, that propels them to this world-wide fame.
They enjoy architecture in general and their own architecture in particular. These architects seek happiness through their creativity. In the process, they develop a different life-style, which is noticed by the media and society. Sometimes, this gets more noticed than their architecture and that is when the problem of famous and good being different starts! Sometimes, the concentration and focus, on the good, qualitative and critical aspects are missed and the architects themselves become victims of their life-style and then the difference between famous and infamous emerges. It may be blurred by the media but to a critic it becomes apparent. Soon it is visible in the stagnation in work with more repetition than creativity and loss of overall quality. That fame soon withers away.

But for those who don't care for fame or being famous, but continue to explore, experiment, innovate, create and build, write or communicate honestly and truthfully, concentrate and stay committed to their creative urge, they dont care for fame although they are famous, for them only their creativity, work quality and deep satisfaction of achieving that creative standard that matters. They have creative will that leads them to such creative heights! They become all time greats! e.g. Frank Llyod Wright, Le Corbusier, Walter Gropius, Louis Kahn, Hasan Fathy, Geoffrey Bawa to name a few who are no more with us, but their architecture is alive in our memory. Thus they become immortal.

Gropius once wrote " The ethical necessity of the New Architecture can no longer be called in doubt. And the proof of this - if proof were still needed - is that in all countries Youth has been fired with its inspiration."

with best wishes,
Akhtar Chauhan
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
Dear Akhtar and Ahmed; First, Happy Ramadan.

I totally agree with both of you in generic terms. I like your exptreme optimism Akhtar about students and practitioners, the profession, and architectural education. However, reality sometimes goes in the opposite direction. I just want to insert my position in this respect.

In a perfect world, what is argued for here is completely true and valid, but the world is not "perfect all the time," and what research on the education and practice of architecture proves go with reality. We tend to encourage our young students to compete, because it is easier to get human beings in general to compete not to cooperate and collaborate. If the student ranking, awards, scholarships are determinng factors for students to try harder and excel further, competition will be the major motivator. Typically, competition is assumed to bring out the best in people. However, it also brings out the worst in them. One of the negative consequences of developing competitive attitudes is that students come to believe of their individual creativity only, they come to believe they must work individually and avoid any desire of collective work. Unfortunatley, these negative attitudes are those that young graduates take to the profession.

My wamrest wishes,
Ashraf Salama
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
Dear Ashraf,
allah akram
I strongly agree with you about the competition however this tends to fail once you have your own practice. At least this was the case with me. You start working with others to get your dream buildings constructed. Naturally you try to make everybody to work for you but cooperation is one value that will keep your clients and working partners on your side. After several projects you establish a group that you feel secure to work with(yes, secure). Practicality takes over.
Ahmed Sabry
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
Dear friends,

Ramadan mubarak. In India, we celebrated Diwali yesterday. It marks the victorious return of Lord Rama, the victory of good over evil in an epic battle. Its New Year today according to the Vikram Samvant. So Happy New Year too!

May it bring greater understanding, enlightenment, peace, harmony,happiness and encourgae unity, co-operation, collaboration in good work and creative endeavour among us all! Amen.

with warm regards,
Akhtar Chauhan
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
Dear friends,

Yes, when compared with our ideal constructs the world and reality appears as imperfect.

However, the way one chooses is very important. There are straight ways, Le Corbusier believed in a straight way, which is also recommended by all the religions and philosophers.There are zigzag and croocked ways too! Perhpas, there are some or many who follow that and achieve fame.

I am convinced that ultimately true greatness and everlasting fame is achieved by those who follow the straight path, who are honest in their work, who practice integrity and professionalism of the highest kind.

Not only awards or scholarship, even a word of appreciation motivates a young student or not so young architect!The competition need not be individual it could be a group effort too. Yes, I agree that competition leads to some negative fall outs. However, it is competition that drives the current stage of social and economic growth. It is the reality of the capitalist and free market economy and democratic society and the present global world order.

Co-operative and collaborative efforts are more enlightened approaches. We can envision a more egalitarian and enlightened way of economic, social and political structure and a more humane way of life. I belive that 21st century provides us a great challenge and opportunity to shape that through our studies, research,planning, design, development, innovative, constructive and collaborative endeavour.

The fame that is derived from less than sincere, honest, committed and work of out standing quality will not last long for sure. While any recognition which is received from really good and excellent work will only add to the real fame which would be ever lasting.

In the final analysis, the really good, excellence shall always prevail. The life and works of Hasan Fathy has proved it for our generation and our time!

with warm regards,
Akhtar Chauhan
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
Dear Akhtar,
I would like to congratulate you for the new year.
you are bringing a very intresting case study for famous architects I think ashraf being an Egyptian can understand what I am about to say.
Hassan fathy and Wissa Wasif these are the two architects who brought back to us the dome and vault bulding after long forgotten. They were both students of fine art university in cairo graduating at the same time. And beleive me when I say that Hassan Fathy was the less talented. You can check the work of Wissa Wasef on Archnet library. His work of Harania village, i think, was futurasic he did not build all of the building he just helped the villagers build their own designs and started the harania village Textile workshops which is now flourishing and famous through all Egypt.
Hassan Fathy's projects is not having 10% of Wisssa Wasef's success.
However the AKKA prize received by Hassan Fathy and later media coverage made him one of the most famous architects of the 20th century.
Hassan Fathy was working for either the governoment or rich clients but never for the poor people. Architecture for the poor where not for the poor any more and still is not.
While Hassan Fathy was acting like god Wissa Wasif tried to be a tool for anybody who wanted to use him.
In my humble openion ( And i stress on humble)
Hassan Fathy did not take the straight way.
Ahmed Sabry
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
Dear Ahmed,

That is news to me! I would like to know more about it for sure! I am not aware of Wissa Wasef's work at all, so I would not venture to comment about it. Why was his work not publicized or is not known throughout the world? What was the role of Institution of Architects in Egypt? How did academics respond to these two architects? What was the role of the critics? How did Hasan Fathy manage to communicate his philosophy and why did Wissa Wasef fail to do so? Why was he not recommended for AKAA award or UIA Award? Did he write any book or articles? I am aware that Hasan Fathy preferred to leave Egypt when he was falsely accused by some govt. engineers. He went to Greece, at the invitation of C.A.Doxiadis. At Athens Centre for Ekistics he was involved in research. It is there he wrote " architecture for the poor", if I recall correctly. The book became famous throughout the world. His work was appreciated and recognized world over. Perhaps Wasef was an introvert and concentrated on his work at local level. He must be a local hero. May be the world will come to know about his talent and outstanding work now.

In India we have Laurie Baker, a British architect who settled down in Kerala and has carried out outstanding work using appropriate and innovative technology using local materials. He was inspired by Gandhi. He has built thousands of rural and urban homes, hundreds of schools and hospitals and several institutions. He does not seek publicity but his admirers have brought his work to the notice of the Government, Press and World Organisations. He was awarded UN Habitat Award and several other awards.
To us he is an excellent architect and in a way world famous too! He is a source of inspiration for humane, appropriate and sustainable architecture to the younger generation in India and elsewhere.

Thanks for your posting. Perhaps, it will open a whole new debate!

with warm regards,
Akhtar Chauhan
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
Dear Akhtar and Ahmed;

I am not sure if one can say that Hassan Fathy did not take the straight way. You will live long enough and you will continue to hear a lot. I am actually not in a position to prove or disprove this argument. But, will try to take a very objective position, based on some facts, not based on speculations or subjective view points.

- I realize what you are saying Ahmed, which is sometimes said in some architecture circles in Egypt.

Let me correct some information, and clarify some points:

- Ramses Wissa Wassef's Art Center was awarded the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 1983, and his work is well known in Egypt and in Europe. Please visit the institution workspace in Archnet and go to the digital library of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture.

- Hassan Fathy's work was awarded the Chairman Award of the AKAA in 1980 as a lifetime achievement, not for a specific project.

- As far as I know from the two times I met him, and from my very close relations with many colleagues, friends, and professors who worked and collaborated with Hassan Fathy, he used to avoid any media exposure, this is why his work was not known enough until late seventies--even to many in Egypt, but his work and personality attracted many to him, especially during the late seventies and eighties. Students of architecture used to just go to his atelier in old Cairo just to be close. That's all.

- What is and was very striking in Fathy's work is TIMING; while the whole world was falling into the trap of modernism and was immersing itself in Mies and Corbu architecture, Fathy took a different position, so he was running against the wind and this is enough for him to be very well known. The fact that not all of his projects were for the poor does not mean that his concern was not for the poor!

- Your argument might be valid when looking at the architecture that was developed later by his students and the younger generation who adopted his views as a trend and for marketing purposes, not as a belief, so it ended up being "the architecture of the rich." or "tourism architecture" So blame might be on the younger generations not on him.

- Since I was an appointed a member in the architecture committee of the Supreme Council for Culture in Egypt, we were working on developing an exhibition of his work, and also we were developing a publication (as far as I know it is under progress waiting for funding)titled "To Whom it May Concern", which includes all the letters that Hassan Fathy wrote and sent to the president of Egypt, the ministers of housing, culture, and tourism and many public officials informing them about the wrong decisions and policies they are implementing in facing many urban and housing problems in Egypt. So, he was having a case, belief, and he sustained his attempts all the time to prove his case and introduce change.

- I was in a small village in Sweden during the Summer of 2000, and was approached by many people who asked me about Wassef's architecture; they were organizing a trip to his art center and were in a process of developing an exhcange program between the children of this and Wassef's Art Center. Swedish Children fees to go there and to stay few days were outrageous!

- If one looks at the amount of research papers, Master theses on Wassef's architecture in the College of Fine Arts, and also in Cairo University, one can conclude that Wassef's work was publicized enough as Fathy's work.

- I tend to see that the Art Center of Ramses Wissa Wassef like this: although the theme advocates the education of the young poor children of Al Harranya Village, I am not sure if the profits realy go to the village communiyt and the villagers, especially when you see some pottery, rugs, and other forms of textiles are extremely expensive, where the public and even the people in the village can not afford buying a piece of rug or pottery.

- Every single tourist visits Cairo for more than two days visit Wissa Wassef's Center, his center is on Tourist Map of Cairo, while people visit luxor to see Hassan Fathy's architecture in purpose, not for tourism purposes or buying a piece of rug.

- Remember that Hassan Fathy, beyond his own atelier, he was an educator and was appointed in everysingle school of architecture in Egypt to deliver lectures on the architecture of old Cairo and vernacular architecture. By default the educator has some sort of influence on future generations.

Just want to wrap up. They are both landmarks in Egyptian architecture, but each took his share of world fame in a different way. Hope they are resting in peace.
Ashraf Salama
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
A whole new debate it will open indeed!

Thank you for adding a new dimension to this debate, Ahmed Sabry and Dr. Salama. We have come a full circle and now our stop is Egypt. Not just because we have two enlightened Egyptians writing here in this forum, but also because we are back to the original question about what makes an architect famous. We can discuss the life, works, outlook and philosophies of two architects from the same country, same period and same style: Hassan Fathy and Wissa Wasif, one of whom gained world fame, while the other didn't, despite the fact that he was (according to Ahmad) a far better designer and more talented than Fathy.

I'm afraid I don't have much data to share on these two architects but Professor Chauhan has many interestinng quotes and examples and I hope he will continue sharing them with us here. However, Egyptian architects on ArchNet can contribute and take this discussion towards finding answers to the original question.

If we don't have any other architects from Egypt sharing their views here, then I guess this discussion can be labelled as:

"Two Egyptian architects on two Egyptian architects"

Sounds very poetic! So be it! Who said architecture cannot be compared to poetry?

Regards,
Hammad Husain
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
I guess Dr. Salama had taken the lead even before I could press "confirm" on my last post, which was to connect with Prof Chauhan's mail.. (his ending sentence and my starting..) Mind is always faster than hand!

Dr. Salama, I'm hoping this debate is going to bring forth a lot of interesting and informative comparisons and do's and dont's. I'm looking forward to it! As they say, I'm all ears! Or rather, all eyes!
Hammad Husain
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
My best to all;
Mr Husain, I have posted my response, and hope to get some thoughts from the people who are familiar with both architects. Based on my limited knowledge about them, I posted an objective intervention that I hope will be stimulating.
Ashraf Salama
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
Dear Ashraf
I did stress That this is my humple openion and what ever I say it is just a drop in the intlectuals stream. Beleive me when I tell nothing makes me happier than to be wrong in a discussion because it means that i learnt something new ( I think that you learn more from your mistakes than any other way).

Going back Hassan Fathy built two villages "El-Gorna" and "Pariz" they are now ruins filled with snakes and owls while you your self just told us how Wisa's art centre is contuining to flourish. However it is not the art centre am talking about it is the whole village of Harania.
No one have the right to be the critic of the final products of Hassan Fathy and Wissa Wasef as they were pioneers in this area. However for the sake of the discussion I think debating the way everyone of them took will not take any of their greatness while it may shed some light on ours.

And again I stress that this is my own humble openion.
Ahmed Sabry
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
It is fine with me; There is nothing wrong with your opinion at all no matter what is the nature of it. However, it is important to draw the attention of the discussants to the correct information and to the facts, that need to be known.

Yes, Wissa Wassef's work is flourishing for several reasons and we can discuss them and also Hassan Fathy's villages are completely destroyed and ruined for another set of reasons and we can discuss them as well.

And yes, people learn from mistakes but they need to know them, right!

Best,
Ashraf Salama
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
Dear Ahmed and Ashraf,

Thanks for enlightening us on some important aspects of works by Hasan Fathy and Wissa Wasef. It is not yet clear why Wasef's supposedly higher talents did not win him greater world-fame. It may have something to do with his own personality or perhaps, his social interactions and communication.
At the sametime, I have seen in my long years in institutional work ( at the Indian Institute of Architects) and journalism ( as Hon.Editor of the Journal of the IIA), that it takes a lot more critical attention, review and appreciation by the fellow architects and critics to seek out talent and bring them to national and international attention. Like what AKAA has done at international level, JIIA awards has identified several younger and not so young architects whose work was not known beyond their locality. In the earlier period there were no such awards and they did not even get enough projects to showcase in the JIIA! So only a few names were known nationally and internationally. In a similar way, till AKAA was instituted we hardly used to get to know about architecture in other muslim and third world countries, and it was MIMAR which brought us this fascinating body of works to our schools.

I am pointing this out only to stress the important role of responsible institutions and press / media, not only to bring world fame to some architects but more importantly to disseminate revelant issues among the community of architects in particular and society in general. On the other hand in some cases office bearers of such institutions and members of the press may be less responsible and critical and may adopt an easy path to pick up local celebrities to enable them to become world famous!

Ashraf's factual data do not corroborate Ahmed's speculation about the path Hasan Fathy followed. Till it is proved otherwise, I shall prefer to stand by my viewpoint.

On the other hand, you may be surprised to know that I wanted to give "anonymous architects", who have created the distinctive local and regional architecture of the world, the first place in my list of 25 world famous architects. Hasan Fathy was the second on my list! .. and the 25th position was open for any local hero, whom I did not know as yet!

with warm regards,
Akhtar Chauhan
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
Salam everybody,
I don't want to interrupt the flow of the discussion going as it is. I will be appreciative if more light will be shed into the reasons beyond Harraniya's success versus El Gorna's, which I don't believe deviates from the title of the discussion here. However, just a note, that a recently awarded Pritzker prize went to an architect (Glenn Murcutt) who is known for his distance from fame and the glamorous world of architecture, who only works alone and follows sustainable building design in his 'humble' buildings away from the flashiness of Gehry'��s or others' architecture. As the awarding ceremony entails that it is the first time such an award is given to an architect of long life contribution away from the world of architectural glamour that heightens the sustainable subtlety of Murcutt's work.

To quote Prof. Chauhan 'But for those who don't care for fame or being famous, but continue to explore, experiment, innovate, create and build, write or communicate honestly and truthfully, concentrate and stay committed to their creative urge, they don't care for fame although they are famous, for them only their creativity, work quality and deep satisfaction of achieving that creative standard that matters. They have creative will that leads them to such creative heights! They become all time greats! e.g. Frank Llyod Wright, Le Corbusier, Walter Gropius, Louis Kahn, Hasan Fathy, Geoffrey Bawa to name a few who are no more with us, but their architecture is alive in our memory. Thus they become immortal'.

So there are two reasons behind fame:

1) planned fame (intentional)
Media + politics + marketing
Going against the flow and therefore becoming distinct with revolutionary theories and designs.

2)subtle fame (unintentional):
Being true to architecture in all what the statement bears (back to prof. quote) without once seeking fame. (These architects may take a long while until they are heard of internationally) I'm sorry if any of what I said sounded repetitive, but had to sum it up as I understood it.
And Happy Ramadan and Diwali
Maiss Razem
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
Cause they created beauty, the architect must be a beauty creator, cause the concept of architecture = beauty.
Shady Mohamed
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
Friends,

Why did Hasan Fathy's project for rural rehabilitation El Gourna and Pariz fail while the other experiments succeeded?

Perhaps, the reasons lie in the social and political brief that Hasan Fathy worked for. While he did a great job as an architect, he could not analyse the social situation prevailing then. If I am not mistaken, these rural projects were meant to rehabilitate those persons,who were involved in some illegal activities and petty crimes such as thefts. They were to be provided with alternative employment through retraining. The programme failed apart from its failure to convert the persons involved to a new way of life, also due to constant conflicts with technical representatives and engineers who were deputed by the government. It had nothing to do with the architecture of Hasan Fathy. Or was it? We would like to know more about these projects from friends.

Perhaps, the other project at Harania succeeded for it may have responded to social and political reality positively. Perhaps, the economic necessity was the key factor for its success rather than its architectural quality. or was the quality of architecture responsible for its success? More details would be welcome.

This brings us to an interesting issue. That is the clients brief and architect's brief. In most cicumstances architects have to follow the clients brief in totto. But in many a case, it would be worthwhile to reinterpret that differently and propose an architect's brief before resolving the issue in a built form / environment.

Also such large scale and complex project as planning and development of whole new village, would require more than an architect's creativity. Villages look simple but their evolution is through an ever evolving complex, human, social, economic, political and environmental process. As shown by Christopher Alexander in his Notes on the Synthesis of Form ( It won him the first ever American Institute of Architects Gold Medal for Research) an Indian village consists of so many patterns which are interlinked.

Perhaps, these projects needed multi-disciplinary teams of planners, sociologist, economists, environmentalist, legal experts, designers, engineers and management experts. More than anything it also required political and social will on part of the government, its officers and the people concerned. Hasan Fathy's views on architecture and his preference for the traditional and vernacular way of building may have upset many an engineer in the bureaucracy, who may have engineered the failure of those landmark projects, who knows?

The response of students to Hasan Fathy as pointed out by Dr. Ashraf Salama, is one indicator that interests me! For the young students seem to know what is wrong and what is right in a given situation instinctly!

Like in India the most popular architect among the students is Laurie Baker! You may be surprised to learn that early Baker projects had a couple of collapses, due to faulty work by contractors / Public Works Department workforce. Some of them may have been deliberate, for none of them were interested in reducing the cost of such public projects! Laurie Baker had to establish a construction co-operative to ensure that his innovative and appropriate construction using local materials was executed as per his design and specifications. It was his faith and belief in the path he had chosen that finally succeeded in proving the relevance of his architecture and construction. Today he is a world famous architect, indeed!

with best wishes,
Akhtar Chauhan
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
Dear Akhtar: Your all "Perhaps" are good points and are very close to reality. I have tried many times to raise the issue of "Programming/Briefing" in the discussion forum but it seems it was not of interest or concern to Archnet Community, perhaps this is a good context to discuss it. I will get back to the discussion today with some thoughts. However, my next posting will not focus on Hassan Fathy or Wissa Wassef since you already outlined the whole issue of "why" by inserting logical reasons. However, as I mentioned in one of my postings that Hassan Fathy was a pioneer in terms of advocating an issue and running after it and in terms of TIMING, while the whole world was falling into the trap of modernism and was immersing itself in Mies and Corbu architecture, Fathy took a different position and was running against the wind or the overall world-trend. BUT, pioneers fall into many traps including modernists, post modernists, late moderne advocates, deconstructivists, humainsts, environmentalists, and I believe all of us do.
Ashraf Salama
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
Dear Akhtar;

When looking at how Western environmental psychologists or architects with behavioral and psychological interests looked at Hassan Fathy's work, one can find some answers to the question of why El Gourna project had some problems. They argue, and perhaps rightly so, that Architecturally and Geometrically the project was very successful while they raised lots of questions about the process from the social and behavioral perspectives. Exactly 11 years ago, I was involved in lots of discussions on this same issue at North Carolina State University.

There were some social surveys conducted during the design of El Gourna (I know personally one of the people who led those surveys, one of the landmarks in the architectural scene in Egypt--Professor Yehia El Zeiny he's 82 yrs old), but it would appear that the results of those surveys were not incorporated in design, phasing, and the overall development of the village, although many claim the opposite. In this context, I would argue that social and behavioral sciences and their applicability in architecture and design were not an issue in the forties and fifties and even if it was an issue, it was not mature enough to be part of design or construction processes. Some might a look at this differently and argue that architects and architectre as a discipline and profession were not mature enough to incorporate those disciplines or issues. The whole movement was emerged in the US in the sixties as part of the civil rights era, exactly in 1964 after El Gourna project was designed, constructed, and partially occupied.

I really do not know if the inhabitants were actually involved, or just the people who were knowledgeable about the craft of traditional building. But if so, they were involved after all the major decisions were made, the location of the new village, the forms, the spaces, ��etc. and all other decisions related to the physical aspects, the role of people if involved did not go beyond being labor. And, this what leads the discussion as you indicated to the issue of briefing/programming. (I use the American term "program" or programming and I believe you use the British term Brief).And, also it leads the discussion to different roles architects can and should play. Yes, Architects need to involve experts from other professions in design, They also need to involve the community. All of us keep repeating those statements or banners, but we never say HOW?????, what mechanism is appropriate for what situation????? Here, I firmly believe that they need to know how to devise a process by which all parties are TRULY involved. I assert that this goes beyond public hearing sessions, or just involving people after the critical decisions are made; it's a lot deeper than that. On a related note, I have tried hard for several years to incorporate those issues in architectural education, but due to many contraints the success was very limited. Strikingly, the models I have devised in 1995 for users involvement in education and design teaching found listening ears in Australia. Please visit the following links.

- Byron Bay Co-Housing Project; Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia (1998)

- Meltzer Course; Collaborative Design for Sustainable Community, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia (1997)

Alexander's Notes on the synthesis of form is a pioneering effort but he himself has criticized his work and surprised the architectural community in the seventies by the Pattern Language, which is more valid and closer to reality. However, it is unfortunate that "you devise a method for research or design, and you are the only one who advocates it..people refuse to use it" Very few people world wide use the pattern language, but it was and still inspiring to many scholars and researchers, and is a base for many other ideas and future researches.

Now, the issue of people involvement in the development of the program is critical, the role of the architect needs only to be inthe form of helping people defining and identifying their problems. I will try to be as concise as possible by etablishing links between people involvement, programming, the role of the architect, and this discussion. Somewhere in the discussion forum about three years ago, I have introduced the following role models and they are very relevant here in this thread.

Kinly notice (in blue) I, WE, THEY, WE...etc.


The architect as EGOIST
I-give-the- people-what-I-want-approach to practice:
The tendency is to deny or superficially respond to the social values without any involvement in identifying people problems (programmatic needs). This role is to create abstract forms based on subjective feelings.

The architect as PRAGMATIST
I-give-the-people-what-they-want-approach to practice:
The tendency is to totally accept the social values as they are without any involvement in identifying people problems (programmatic needs). This role is to create and manipulate forms based on the values of others.

The architect as TECHNICAL ASSISTANT GIVER
I-give-the- people-what-they-need-approach to practice:
The tendency is to be responsive to the powerless and the poor by being accessible and affordable but again without any involvement in identifying community needs. This role is to rationally deal with physical elements and other factors that could not be dealt with are ignored.

The architect as ADVOCATE
I-help-those- people (this community)-get-what-they- need-approach to practice:
The tendency is to serve the community within their political interests. The architect is involved in the process of identifying community needs. This role is to develop an alternative to a public plan that asserts local interests over the broad public purposes.

The architect as FACILITATOR
We-help-the- people/community-achieve-what-we-can-approach to practice:
The tendency is to conduct research and then personally respond to the social values through the understanding of socio-behavioral contexts. The architect is deeply involved in identifying community needs. This role is to manipulate spaces to accommodate related human activities. The role is not solve people problems but to create a process that enables people solve their own problems.

It would be nice if we can map the many architects mentioned in the discussion to these roles, and see to what extent "name/famous architects" can cover one or more of these roles.

For more deep criticism of the profession in relation to society, please see chapter 2: Chapter 2: The Architect and Society in New Trends in Architectural Education: Designing the Design Studio, Tailored Text, Raleigh, North Carolina, USA (1995)

Many thanks Prof. Akhtar for raising many crucial issues. Also, where is Mr Husain, it would be interesting if we can have his feedback and comments

My warmest wishes to all;

Ashraf Salama
Ashraf Salama
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
Dear Ashraf,
I am really proud of being a part of this discussion. especially that these simple lines I wrote brought such enlightment for all of us ( by you and Dr. Akhtar).

I may find some reasoning that working under the government umbrella bring two critical issues:

1. The government adminstrative involvement.
2. The government dead lines.

The government is always asking for magicians, not architects, who would shake their sticks producing results in days with a very law cost even when the government own system, by default, is increasing all costs and overheads and prolongs the time of every project.

I think these were the traps that Hassan Fathy fell for while working in el-Gourna. In his words he denounced the amount of money spent for al-Gourna project by the government.

While Wissa Wassef, not having the same opportunity, was content to build al-Harania at his own pace. Niether of them can be described as taking a wrong turn just different ones with one of these ways agreeing with what you describe as the role of the architect. The way it I see we both agree on the same issues.

Note: I am speaking from experience the picture I uploaded is a service building for a Pharonic temple in Sinai Desert. I designed it in seven days and have been discussing it with the Committee of Antiquity for three months. We were not discussing the program or the use of dome and vaults (the normal issues), only why the dome in this room (space) and not vault and what is a cross vault.
Ahmed Sabry
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
Dear Ashraf,

I am glad that you took pains to identify different roles an architect can play in addressing the issues in a program or brief for a particular project for a client / client-group. I am sure all of us have gained from this articulation.

I am aware that Christopher Alexander was critical of the response that he drew because most of them looked from the design method point of view rather than wholistically, and he clarified his position on the issue in his own way. Pattern Language is a very important book that has helped many a student to understand the wisdom of timeless way of building. He has further added A New Theory of Urban Design based on his laboratory projects.
These books have helped architectural research in so many ways apart from providing inspiration and cross referencing.

Unfortunately, the design process followed by Hasan Fathy did not utilise the information available through social surveys for evolving his design. This is also because then architects were not trained to incorporate the feed-back and participation of the community till recently. Also the project budgets and schedules never gave adequate resources and time allocation for these activities. There are innovative ideas about how to make our designs more sensitive and responsive to community's needs and aspiration, however, there are very few examples of innovation in project management.

In early 70s Development Planning Unit of the University of London had conducted several short term educational programmes in urban housing in India and some other third world countries. The architects were introduced to new techniques of social research and analysis, they were required to interview users and community leaders to prepare architects brief and then develop a programme based on resources available. The results were radically different from the usual architectural solutions.

Since the student revolution of 1968 which touched USA, Europe and the Third World countries, the young architects have taken up the advocacy roles in slum rehabilitation and rural development projects. e.g. In Ahmedabad Study Action Group led by Kirti Shah has been focusing on housing and community development issues since early 70s. I was involved with my colleagues at the School of Planning, CEPT, Ahmedabad in protecting housing rights of Gulbai Tekra Slum and other slum communities. I decided to live and stay for a year in slum after my post grad studies to orgnaise the slum communities of Ahmedabad, just after we successfully removed the corrupt govt in Gujarat through Nav Nirman movement. While in Mumbai, young architects such as S.K. Das, P.K. Das, Neeta Bhatt and others were encouraged by Datta Parab, the chief planner of City and Industrial Development Corporation (CIDCO). There are several organisation like Nivara Haak Suraksha Samiti
( Committee for Protection of Housing Rights of the People) YUVA, SPARC etc who have assisted several communities as facilitators. Housing and Urban Development Coroporation of India (HUDCO) has taken several initiatives in this regards through the network of building centres as well as through supporting several pioneering projects and hosting competitions.

However, these efforts are like a few drops in the ocean. We need to train and educate architects and related professionals in human, social, economic, environmental and technical research and to open up our schools to new ways of wholistic learning in architecture. At the same time, at the civic and state levels we have to restructure development,planning and project management processes to make them responsive to the needs of effective citizen participation.

I am glad that our friend Architect Ahmed Sabry has taken three months in community consultation and only 7 days in designing for his project! I would like to know if he modified his design after the consultation and how the final design differed from the earlier version! Although it is like going away from the main thread of the discussion, but the detour may be worthwhile!

I quite agree with you, Dr. Ashraf that we need to innovate further, in academic planning, design studio projects and evolve appropriate tools and techniques / methodology to make community participation and involvement an integral process of design and development.

May I venture to suggest that perhaps, we can also envisage the new role of architect:

Architect-as a wholistic consultant and service provider- which would be like incoroporating ten roles if not more rather than offering some key sectoral service like advocacy for instance. I think as a facilitator one comes very close to this, but not quite! This would necessitate a comprehensive and collaborative effort by a team though led by an architect/planner/or a related professional. Perhaps,it would require us to move away from the famous "art for the sake of art" kind of architecture by a few celebrity
"architects"! The new technological possibilities offered by the info tech and internet would perhaps revolutionise the proces of designing and planning in not too distant a future enabling more effective client/ community participation. New design, planning and development softwares may enable group designing and planning. We may have appropriate construction systems which enable community to invovle in building process more effectively and the role of architect may undergo some revolutionary/ evolutionary change, enabling us to realise cherished dreams - these could be as simple as humane architecture or as complex as humane habitat - any such other dreams that architects can envision!


with best wishes,
Akhtar Chauhan
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
Dear Akhtar;

Let me say that your continuous intervention makes this intellectual discussion very fruiful. Many thanks for your kind words.

I believe those techniques introduced in the seventies were adopted and adapted to the local reality and the Indian context. I hope this was the case. However, it would appear that the initiatives and efforts undertaken by you and your colleagues were influential toward the betterment of the housing and the urban environment in Ahmed Abad and cities.

I believe community design, planning and user/citizen participation will be a key issue that will pose itself on the map of academic and professional interests. Terms like Humane Architecture/Habitate, empowerment, enablement will be a reality and will go beyond the written text.

What is promising is that the antiquated notion of the "famous architect" who is wearing a white shirt and elegant glasses, and waiting in an office for a client to come in with a project is already gone. As you indicated, the architect as a wholistic consultant and service provider is a comprehensive leading role and I endorse your statement that the typical conventional role will undergo "revolutionary" change.

And yes, I can envision the dream of seeing (those) budding professionals more responsive to the issues they deal with. I would dream that they place a mirror before themselves and allow for self-critical examination of their says, attitudes, acts, behaviors...etc. I believe this is a simple and legitimate dream!!

My warmest regards,
Ashraf Salama
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
Dear Ashraf,

Thanks for pointing out the most critical aspect of self-criticism and self-evaluation. This seems to be waning of late. There is hardly any professional journal or magazine where real criticim of current practices is found. In most of the conferences / seminars architects generally present their own works, which is noting more than self-promotion. There are very few critics who venture to say publicly.

During last couple of years, I was fortunate to listen to some of the best critical opinions by Kenneth Framptom, Peter Davey and Peter Buchanan. What a treat! I came back enriched and being more enlightened.

Why cann't our studio crits be more critical? Why our students, particularly in the third world open up to criticism and comments by colleagues? Why our architects shy away from criticism? Why do we not have public / experts viewpoints / criticism in general press on architecture, urban design, landscape design, transportation, urban and regional planning etc.?

In absence of such a culture of criticism, mediocrity in the garb of fashion takes over! People and architects are seduced by such fashions and styles and it proliferates and destroys many layers of urban and rural architecture and environment.

I would also like to quote Gropius's early criticism:

" But the development of the New Architecture encountered serious obstacles at a very early stage of development. Conflicting theories and the dogmas enunciated in architects' personal manifestos all helped to confuse the main issue. Technical difficulties were accentuated by the general economic decline that followed the war. Worst of all, 'modern' architecture bacame fashionale in several countries; with the result that formalistic imitation and snobbery distorted the fundamental truth and simplicity on which the renascence was based."

Gropius went on to recommend:
"That is why the movement must be purged from within if its original aims are to be saved from the strait-jacket of materialism and false slogans inspired by plagarism or misconception."

Perhaps,the internet and group discussions provide us with more openness and greater accessibility for debate and critical evaluation.However, it will only succeed and be effective when youth gets engaged with such discussions whole-heartedly. That realisation led me to insert a famous quote from Gropius's book, which I will repeat:

"The ethical necessity of the New Architecture can no longer be called in doubt.And the proof of this - if proof were needed - is that in all countries Youth has been fired with its inspiration."

This is from the book The New Architecture and the Bauhaus by Walter Gropius published by the MIT Press.

with warm regards,
Akhtar Chauhan
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
Same factor you just mentioned. You mentioned islamic countries when outside exist an more thant you can see. Please open your mind beyond you understand.
Luis Medina
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
What is fame?... What is good?
Whom can say it? Do you?
The architecture conciense should be beyond of any standard of good and bad, of famous and not famous. Countries where the architeture is growing need more than famous and good. They need a consience of develoment, a strategic to involve people in the architecture, in the city in the space.
It's just fame......and I will be disapear like tears in rain.
Luis Medina
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
Dear Luis Medina,

We live in one world, which can be seen in so many ways. It can be divided into regions and nations; urban and rural. It can be divided along religious and ideological or social and cultural lines but then if we are open, it can be also seen as coalescing into one humanity.

The group discussion has covered the entire world in so many ways and so many times. Sometime we also discuss some personalities in a particular context in order to understand them and the situation. If you carefully read the entire discussion, which is quite long, you will perhaps like to change your statements. You may discover that many of us, if not all, share so many others views with you!

Hammad Hussain raised the question in order to proble the process so that it may help us architects in some ways. He has succeeded in making us ponder over the whole process of seeking,attaining, sustaining and withering of fame, and in the process stengthening our understanding in pursuing good and excellence in design and architecture in our own way. We should be thankful to him and Ashraf for stimulating discussion that we have had so far. We need not agree on all points all the time, but still we can continue our dialogue and enrich ourselves with new understanding and clarity. In doing so we may experience a great feeling of togetherness and a realisation that we live in one world and that we belong to one family! Thanks to ArchNet for bringing us togeher!

with best wishes,
Akhtar Chauhan
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
Thank you Professor Chauhan for your comments. You forgot to mention your own contribution in this discussion which has been instrumental in debating the crucial aspect of architectural education.

I've been away and havent been coming here on this forum. Will be writing off and on as I'm stuck with work for a few more days.

Regards,
Hammad Husain
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
I think that it comes down now for the responsibility of the architecture toward his society.

Now we need to difine what is the Architect's responsibility? what are his role/roles?. Who should judge him?

This discussion is raising more questions than giving us answers.

Globlization in my point of view is getting us all more attached to our traditions and its evolution through the globalization process.

It is one world it have always been. However, Everybody is cheering his own team. Nothing is wrong with that. You may understand the world or look at it but in the end it is your traditions that binds you to your own society.
Ahmed Sabry
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
Dear Luis Medina,

Its apparent that you have not gone through the discussion.

Talking about opening minds, i suggest you take a crash-course in political and religious structure of the world so that you learn that China, India, Korea and Singapore are not Islamic countries, and that we are discussing a region, where all the above-mentioned countries play an important role. So the comparison has been made between the architects of Japan, which is a regional economic power and the above-mentioned influential countries of the region.
Hammad Husain
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
Mr. Husain your are totally right. Under that answer I can now understand why you have suggested this topic... Fame, but what about my other comment? Don't you think is not a relevant thing the fame, perhaps is distracting us of our objective....which I am still loking for it? The same objective I do beleive you may been looking..(hope so)
Luis Medina
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
Mr./Ms. Medina,
You need to understand the context of the question and what exactly it is seeking to understand. The topic is not "Fame"! There are 16 words there, which when read together as one sentence, form a different meaning that what you have apparently understood.

So what you are tryinng to ask is 1) not entirely relevant to the original topic 2) has already been discussed in this thread and 3) may be taken up as a separate discussion.
Hammad Husain
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
Dear friends,

Here are a few questions that may be relevant to our discussion:

1. Can an architect be famous without realising/ making / constructing famous building / architecture ?

2. Can an architect be famous by writing a book/s or essays/poems?

3. Can an architect be famous by winning a competition/s?

4. Can an architect be famous by winning an award/s ?

5. Can an architect be famous by writing a critique/s ?

6. Can an architect be famous by delivering talks / lectures / chatting ?

7. Can an architect be famous by communicating in media, TV/Press etc?

8. Can an architect be famous by marketing his / her architecture ?

9. Can an architect be famous by evolving a new philosophy?

10. Can an architect be famous by launching a new movement?

11. Can an architect be famous by his / her life-style?

12. Can an architect be famous for working in an organisation/s?

13. Can an architect be famous for doing charity?

14. Can an architect be famous for reaching out to people and working with them?

15. Can an architect be famous for teaching?

16. Can an architect be famous for doing some research?

17. Can an architect be famous for writing a novel / or a novel written on his / her life?

18. Can an architect be famous for making a film / films ?

19. Can an architect be famous for acting?

20. Can an architect be famous for making sculptures / paintings ?

21. Can an architect be famous for designing industrial products ?

22. Can an architect be famous for designing / making furniture ?

23. Can an architect be famous for his / her sketching ?

24. Can an architect be famous for drawing cartoons?

25. Can an architect be famous for planning / designing gardens/ landscapes / human settlements or preparing / suggesting policies and programmes for development?

Please give an example/ some examples by identifying the architect/s, his/ her /their activities and context
( time and place) and identify the level of famoushood local / national / international.

I do hope that you are enjoying the discussion and that these questions will generate some interesting discussion!

with best wishes,
Akhtar Chauhan
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
Dear Professor, this is a very interesting posting. It will add colour to this disccussion. Lets see if i can answer all your questions one by one.

1. Can an architect be famous without realising/ making / constructing famous building / architecture ?
LEON KRIER, ZAHA HADID

2. Can an architect be famous by writing a book/s or essays/poems?
KENNNETH FRAMPTON

3. Can an architect be famous by winning a competition/s?
RAPHEL VINOLY (won international competition for Tokyo International Forum when he was virtually unknown. That was his breakthrough)

4. Can an architect be famous by winning an award/s ?
Yes definitely. I cant think of an example. However, unlike the Nobel Prize winners who are mostly unknown people, most architecural prizes go to those who are already famous. Specially the Pritzker Prize.

5. Can an architect be famous by writing a critique/s ?
CHARLES JENCKS

6. Can an architect be famous by delivering talks / lectures / chatting ?
again CHARLES JENCKS (famous because of his critique and his analysis)

7. Can an architect be famous by communicating in media, TV/Press etc?
DANIEL LIBESKIND

8. Can an architect be famous by marketing his / her architecture ?
again DANIEL LIBESKIND (projects himself and his work a lot. His wife acts his PR person / spokesperson)

9. Can an architect be famous by evolving a new philosophy?
TADAO ANDO (Minimalism)

10. Can an architect be famous by launching a new movement?
PETER EISENMAN (Deconstruction)

11. Can an architect be famous by his / her life-style?
Flamboyance does have an impact in my opinion. But ONLY flamboyance or elitist lifestyle cannot make a person famous. However, an already famous architect with a flamboyant lifestyle can make him MORE famous and get him more press)

12. Can an architect be famous for working in an organisation/s?
I dont think so. Architects who are self-employed have more chances of becoming famous as compared to those who work for an organisation, unless they head that organisation. Is any arcchitect in SOM as famous as SOM itself? or for that that matter how many people know Mr. Merril or Fazlur Rehman Khan? but everyone knows SOM. So individuals usually get overshadowed by their own organisation.

13. Can an architect be famous for doing charity?
Yes i believe he can be. Provided he is already famous to an extent. Charity would put him in limelight. If Architect X donates a million dollars to homeless children, he will get press as a charitable PERSON. If Architect Norman Foster does it, he will be shown as a charitable ARCHITECT.

14. Can an architect be famous for reaching out to people and working with them?
Yes, if he is helping them out in his field, (architecture). Or if he comes up with solutions for them which otherwise they wouldnt be able to aquire or afford. Arif Hasan, a well-known Pakistani architect spent a lot of his time and energy on Orangi Pilot Project, a low-cost housing solution, and got a lot of appreciation and press.

15. Can an architect be famous for teaching?
Yes, if he comes up with revolutionary concepts or theories and publishes his work. In my opinion, just by teaching well what is supposed to be taught cannot make a teacher famous.

16. Can an architect be famous for doing some research?
Maybe, if he comes up with something new and revolutionary, which is more probable in engineering sciences than in architecure. So its difficult.

17. Can an architect be famous for writing a novel / or a novel written on his / her life?
The answer is the same as No. 2

18. Can an architect be famous for making a film / films ?
Not if he makes a film related to architecture. However if he makes a "Spielberg-type" film, he can surely get famous, but then it would be going a bit far claiming him as an architect.

19. Can an architect be famous for acting?
Same as No. 18

20. Can an architect be famous for making sculptures / paintings ?
Yes, but in that field, not as an architect. Michaelangelo is a good example.

21. Can an architect be famous for designing industrial products ?
No. He would not get the credit for it. The company who manufactures will take the credit. If I design a car for Mitsubishi, I will never get the credit for it, even if the car becomes No. 1. oes anyone know who designed the Honda Accord that was the top car in the USA for many years?

22. Can an architect be famous for designing / making furniture ?
Yes, but again he wouldn't be famous as an 'architect' but as a furniture-designer.

23. Can an architect be famous for his / her sketching ?
No. Unless he already famous, in which case that will be an added advantage.

24. Can an architect be famous for drawing cartoons?
No.

25. Can an architect be famous for planning / designing gardens/ landscapes / human settlements or preparing / suggesting policies and programmes for development?
Yes. If his policies and planning is given due coverage.


This was interesting. My conclusion after going through this exercise is:

1. To be famous in any field related to architecture, an architect has to aquire a certain level of fame as an architect first, and only then he can switch fields and continue to be famous.

2. Press, coverage, publicity, media play an extremely important role in making a person famous.. whether he is an architect who has made a good building, or has wirtten a good book, or has come up with a revolutionary philosophy. Unless he can make the world hear about it, it wont get him anywhere.

There is a saying in Urdu: "jungal mein mor naacha, kis nay daikha?" (The peacock performed a dance in the jungle, but who saw it?" So the peacock may be very beautiful and graceful, but if nobody sees it dance, its beauty and grace is of no use!

Waiting for an analysis by other contributors on ArchNet.

Regards,
Hammad Husain
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
The last two postings are really nice. Great exploration of questions, and great attempts to answer them!

Let me give an example from Egypt:

- One of the famous Film Directors (in the seventies and eighties) in Egypt was an architect; the late Shady Abdel Salam.

- One of the great scenery film designers in most of the movies of the sixties and seventies was an architect; Nasry Abdel Nour.

- One of the "well Known" female architects in Egypt decided to be an actress and succeeded to an extent.

Many of the famous business people in Egypt are architects.
Ashraf Salama
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
Dear Hammad and Ashraf,

Thanks for your responses to my latest questions. Hammad, you have responded in great details and identified famous architects who have world fame.

Ashraf, you have given some interesting examples of famous Egyptian architects.

Great going, it would be a lot more fun to have more responses at international / national or even local level. I am particularly interested in knowing more about famous architects of different countries and cities who are known for something distinctive or special.

Hammad, you seem to identify architect only as a building designer. In your critical view an architect-furniture designer can only be famous as a furniture designer, if his furniture becomes famous.

Poor Marcel Breuer. I thought he would make it to the list.

What about Walter Gropius as a teacher, was he more famous as a building designer or as a teacher-director of Bauhaus?

If so why a building designer becomes an architect but does not remain only as a building designer like a furniture designer? or why an architect-furniture designer can not be called an architect as building designers are generally known?

Famous Austrian architect Hans Hollein says that everything is architecture !

Ashraf, who will tell us the name of the Egyptian architect, who became a famous actress, if not you? May be Ahmed Sabry can help us!

with best wishes,
Akhtar Chauhan
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
Thanks for raising this question. You do have a point there Prof. Chauhan. But I think that building designers are called architects. An architect is not different from a building designer. Both are one and same. However, furniture design is a separate field. Generally, lay-people also define the two professions as such. As a result, if an architect gains fame as a furniture designer, he will be referred to as a famous furniture designer as opposed to a famous architect who makes good furniture.. UNLESS.. that architect is already famous as an architect, like Frank LLoyd Wright. Wright's furniture is famous, but then Wright is more famous as an architect.

We can take up Dr. Salama's posting as an example and pose a question to him. The Egyptian film Director, Shady Abdel Salam, who became famous, was he known to public as a famous architect? or simply as a famous film-Director?

On the other hand, Dr. Salama has mentioned an ALREADY famous female architect who went into acting. I'm quite suure that as she is already well-known, she would always be known as the famous architect-turned-actress or just an architect, when referred to, whereas Mr. Abdel Salam would be referred to as a famous film Director and probably nobody other than architects know that he trained as an architect.
Hammad Husain
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
Chauhan Sahib,

Please refer to your questions no. 15 and 18.

As you mentioned, Walter Gropius is a good example as an answer to question No. 15 whicch states "Can an architect gain fame as a teacher?" Gropius definitely gained more fame because of his role as a teacher and institution builder at Bauhaus than as a building designer.

Now please refer to my answer to question No. 18 regarding architect as film-maker. Dr. Salama's examples reinforce what I opined. Late Mr. Salam gained fame NOT by making architectural films, but switching his field altogether and going into commercial cinema. It is different from "architect as film-maker". Its simply "film-maker". Please correct me if my assumptions are wrong Dr. Salama.

Regards,
Hammad Husain
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
Colleagues and Friends;

It is getting fun here. Below are some notes and questions;

- Is there a boundary between "well known" as one category and "famous" as another? Do we mix between them?

- On furniture design, Yes, Marcel Breuer did not make it to the list of famous. He is not even famous enough in the interior design and furniture fields "the generations of the last 20 years" However, I was told that he continued to design chairs for some companies and his until he was over 90 yrs old (that was in the early nineties). I think when it comes to furniture and interior design what creates fame is not only design but also the manufacturing process and the product quality, and, I believe the case of Herman Miller and Steel Case companies would tell a lot in this context.

- Walter Gropius became famous as an architect-educator, but also there were many other reasons. His sustained manifestos written and delivered in public events in Germany and later in the US is one of the reasons. Also, when he was accused to be a radical politician by Hitler. Imagine if Hitler or a similar personality or leadership accuses one of us of something, how much fame we would get??

- It is apparent that when an architect gets a lot of criticism all the time, he-she gets famous too, and then later the reasons for his/her fame disappear, and what continues for ages is the fame. A look at the history -theory books would show us how many arguments, publications, theses were developed against Mies Van Der Rohe, and how many supported his work? This might tell how he became famous. He lived in the US half of his life or perhaps more and did not have any of the qualities that we introduced here (not even speaking good english as many say), beyond being a stubborn educator and an extremely dogmatic practitioner.

- Mr Husain, Shady Abdel Salam was famous as a very distinguished film director not as an architect. I doubt that he has designed or built any buildings other than the images and the play with light he conceptualized and materialized in his movies. He produced wonderful documentaries and commercial movies.

- As for Dr....... , I am not sure if many of the younger generation in Egypt would follow this, Akhtar. I am not sure if her name would help, but if you insist, I will let you know.. She used to be and still a well-known architect in many circles in Egypt; she designed a number of houses, one or more tourist villages, and a considerable number of conservation studies and restoration projects. She continues to be an architect and consultant. She was a main star in two or more movies that highlighted the Egyptian life during the forties and fifties.


I guess a line can be drawn between Famous, Well-Known, ...and perhaps there are other terms too that elucidate different degrees of fame!!.
Ashraf Salama
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
Dear Akhtar,
I would like to point out that mr. Shady abd al-salam was not your average movie director he was a genius. I saw the sotrey board for one of his movies "the mummy" (he used to draw it himself). The details was staggering.
He designed everything in the movie, jewelry, costumes, chose evey location with care (mostly architectural). He would research for several years before starting a movie. He had done only two movies in his life and died befor starting the third.

I went to a gallary for the pharonic jewelery he designed for his movie after his death with ten years. It was so honest. He was the artists artist.

During his student years his projects was always stolen he never got one back. It was said that they were so beautiful that they were works of art in themselves.
Ahmed Sabry
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
Following up on a posting I made regarding the creation of a database on architects in the Islamic world. Please see the announcement below. Your active participation and involvement is very important.

Dear ArchNet members: The Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture@MIT seeks your active participation. We are launching a new research project that will primarily depend on your collaboration. The project aims to redress the dearth of information on several fundamental subjects of study in Islamic architecture such as architects in the Islamic world, terminology of architecture and related fields in Islamic languages, and Islamic architecture outside the traditional boundaries of the Islamic world. For the pilot project, ArchNet members are asked to send us information on notable architects in the Islamic world known to them that may or may not have been published. AKPIA @MIT will function as a clearinghouse and repository of the information collected before developing it to form usable databases for researchers everywhere. The project is directed by professor Nasser Rabbat. For more information and to fill in the form, please click here.

Shiraz Allibhai
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
Dear Shiraz,

It is a great idea and project.We all shall contribute to the Islamic Datebase project for sure. Is there a specific format for sending the info ?

with warm regards,
Akhtar Chauhan
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
Dear Ashraf,

the terms and the boundaries,
the real and the imaginary,
the known and the unknown,
the famous and the infamous,
the well known and not so well known,

the flame of fame,
the fame of famous,
the fun
of following their trail,
seems endless,

in the process,
some may say that we are famous,
but we may not agree with that,

what are we then,..funactics ?

What is that?

Is it different from fanatics?

Now that is another endless trail!

When in doubt, please, refer to a good dictionary.

Famous, adj.
1. known about by many people.
2. informal excellent

fame
the state of being famous
famed, adj.
famous; well known.

origin from Latin fama 'fame'
Ref: Oxford Reference Dictionary 2001

famous, adj,
1. very well known; much talked about or written about; noted; celebrated;
2. informal. first rate; excellent.
3. archaic. notorious


syn.

1. Famous, renowed, noted mean very well known. Famous implies being widely and usually favourably known.

Renowned implies great and enduring fame, glory and honor.

Noted implies being well known or especially noticed for some peculiar thing.

Now, please note that while moving from famous to renowned to noted we arrive at the pointer> see notorious for usage note!

notorious, adj.

1 well known because of something bad, having a bad reputation.
2 well known; celebrated

derived from medieval Latin notorius

now we arrive at another pointer >

Notorious generally means well-known for unfavourable or unsavoury reasons.

Famous means well known for accomplishments or excellence.

Infamous, adj.
1. so bad as to deserve public disgrace; shamefully bad; very wicked
2. having a bad reputation; in public disgrace;

syn.
notorius, disreputatble

origin medieval Latin infamosus

So, where are we in this discussion?

The original question by Hammad Husain and Ashraf's famous 7 activities, which Hammad and many other friends agree with. My suggestions that there may be 10 or more ways to attain excellence in architecture, which is the right way to achieve the fame and many other friends agree with that.

While doing excellent work, one has to ensure that there is interaction and communication with other sections of the society and community to achieve fame otherwise one remains excellent and yet, not so well known like Wisa Wassef, as Ahmed Sabry pointed out.

And on the other hand, while one practices or indulges in those 7 activities listed by Dr. Ashraf Salama, one will have to ensure that one does not cross that line, not so invisible boundary, to become notorious and infamous!

The media may blur the line and the boundary between famous and infamous, so better watch out, my young and not so young friends!

I recall one strict advice by Prof. Shiraz Doctor in the first year studio,

"An architect must know where to stop".

with best wishes,
Akhtar Chauhan
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
My Dear Akhtar;

Many thanks for your nice posting. I like the strict advice "Architects must know where to stop"? and I would add "when" and "how" to stop too. The continuous worry about the use of the terms is because people have many interpretations for them not always reflecting the meanings stated in dictionaries. I would argue that there are different lines between famous, well known, acknowledged, ... I really do not know where these lines are exactly, but there are lines? "metaphorically"...just to relate to the topic ...examining terminology...smiles!;)

I totally agree with your views about the possible good and legitimate ways to achieve fame and actually I was impressed by the the quality of the statements you have made in your postings here on how to reach that or achieve this goal. My concern in the first posting is a criticism against some "misconceptions" about famous architects--especially among young architects and recent graduates--, and perhaps some of the quotations I have posted delineate this concern including being more famous because of the extreme ability in solving "the problem of the building corner...".....more smiles! Looking at many magazine articles would really makes one wonder!

to continue,

My Warmest regards,
Ashraf Salama
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
Dear Dr. Salama and Professor Chauhan. I must congratulate you both for taking this discussion to new heights. You have really added colour to it, or as we say in Pakistan, added spice to it!

I admire the depths and details Professor Chauhan goes into when tackling an issue, and Dr. Salama's analytical thinking never ceases to impress me.

"If music be the food of love, play on". (Shakespeare)

Regards,
Hammad Husain
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
Thank you Mr Husain for your kind words, I am also impressed by your ability to encourage, stimulate, and direct the discussion. I have read again Professor Chauhan's posting and was wondering if we can use the definitions of the terms that he has intoduced, select three or four, re-define them , and start to re-classify some of the "famous" architects mentioned in previous postings. I would suggest the following categories to be used in the re-classification process:

- Legendary (this is a new one)
- Famous
- Renowned
- Noted
- Notorious

Reviewing the meanings of the words intorduced by Professor Chauhan , I would introduce two statements crafted as follow:

"The majority of famous architects are famous because of favorable reasons recognized by a few. However, few famous architects are famous because of favorable reasons recognized by the majority...."

"The most important thing about the famous architect is that the famous architect is not the most important thing. It is the quality of the responsive architecture and environment produced as a result of his/her design..."

"These statements were crafted on Tuesday, November 11, 2003, 4.57 PM, ET.USA"

My wamrest regards,
Ashraf Salama
Ashraf Salama
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
Dear Ashraf and Hammad,

The strict advice " an architect must know when to stop" was in the reference to architects' activities while pursuing their goals and objectives, to enhance their status in the community of architects and the society in general.(it was not a suggestion to stop our stimulating discussion!)

Like we have some "examples" in India, who seem to believe there are no limits! They perhaps follow the devil's advice to achieve success and fame by any means. As they say "by hook or by crook".

These "celebrities" advertise directly and indirectly, constantly brag about their so called honesty, break all the professional norms, employ journalists and media to the extreme to remain in the business's eye, they are featured in the celebrities page 3 columns incessantly, corporate and politicians line up to them, they win all third and second rate awards given for commercial and publicity purposes rather than for real excellence. They copy and imitate and mock others' designs and compete with photocoping machine to produce their copied constructions.

They have mastered the art of creating illusion. They accuse the other professionals, colleagues and academia of not knowing what is right and what is wrong, relevant and not having vision.The masses, through an intensive and extensive use of media, are hypnotised into believing that they are living in heaven while they are misled straight into hell. The virus of this architecturally-induced-decadence (aids) has affected the whole country.

This all has happened because there was no one like Prof. Shiraz Doctor and Prof. Yatindra Chandawarkar in their lives, who could teach them and make them learn simple lessons, where to stop and when to draw a line, which enables an architect to distinguish between good and bad, legitimate and illegitimate ways, truth and lies, honesty and dishonesty, between being famous and notorious!

Like I was told be a friend that Prof. Doshi took one of his former students to show what had happened to the city of Ahmedabad. How the city they love was affected by such madness of cheap commercialism. Once upon a time, in 60s and 70s the city was known for excellence in modern architecture. Prof. Doshi commented that such a devastation of quality in architecture was caused by none other than some of the former students of their school of architecture. I can understand Prof. Doshi's concerns. I wish other heads and faculty of schools of architecture have courage to be as critical as Prof. Doshi.

I am glad that we share our concerns and views on what is good in architecture and what are the good ways to achieve excellence.

The discussion has helped us all to clarify and be more critical about the quality of architecture as well as the ways of achieving that quality. We need to educate and train students to become successful architects through fair means and right ways. The courses in professional practice are not given due importance in most of the schools as a result the young graduates learn by trial and error method and by imitating the ways of so called "successful" and "famous" architects. This may explain why I am so determined and critical on the issues!

The creative struggle to achieve professional success and excellence has to be waged by each architect. They are free to explore, experiment and evolve their architecture. If we can provide some guidance and learn from each other through this discussion, ArchNet would have done a great service in the cause of excellence in architecture.

I am glad that you have provided some further insight into the issue by your latest postings. I wish that there are some more responses from the other members as well.

It would be rather difficult and improper to publicly state the names of notorious architects. I suggest that we restrict to the good and right side only. By not refering to the names on the other side, what is bad, wrong and notorious, we would have avoided giving them the publicity that they seek!

with best wishes,
Akhtar Chauhan
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
Dear Akhtar;

Yes, completely undersood the context of the advice, and turly I added "when" and "how" in the same context.

It would be nice to get your views together with Hammad and other members on the last two statements. To what degree the first statement is valid? the second is by default, I guess!

My best,
Ashraf Salama
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
"The majority of famous architects are famous because of favorable reasons recognized by a few."-Dr. Ashraf Salama

Fame is like a spark that lits a fire. The first sparks of famous good work / good design / something unique / excellent / or something unusual and controversial are noted by a few.

They can be friends, critics, journalists, media, corporate clients / bureaucrats / technolcrats / social activists / NGOs / industry / politicians / agencies / orgnaisations or common citizens.

Soon the fame spreads due to the quality of work and appreciation /criticism / curiosity about the uniqueness and unusaualness of the idea / work / action / lifestyle etc.

The communication networks, political power and economic wealth is concentrated with few and they control the media, newspapers / magazines /journals/ oraganisations / agencies / departments / industry / market / ect. which controls the spread of fame directly or indirectly.

There are educated / learned people / professionals / educators / researchers / critics / schools / institutions / universities who also control in so many ways what is what.
But they are also a few as compared to the majority.

If the fame is sustained over a period of time, the majority of those concerned becomes aware of the famous.

But they are always in a minority since majority of the humanity is busy struggling with their life process and hardly has any time for so called famous people and their fame. e.g. Egyptian or Indian farmer, agricultural labourers, slum dwellers living in our cities, women who are bearing the burden of the households and spend their time caring for their family are least concerned about some famous piece of architecture / architect and they constitute the majority of humanity.

We are a small miniscule minority. Our fame is like a storm in tea-cup!


"However, few famous architects are famous because of favorable reasons recognized by the majority...."
-Dr. Ashraf Salama

There are exceptions that proves the rules, as they say. An outstanding work such as Taj Mahal or Sydney Opera is appreciated by the majority of the concerned citizens,

or architects like Le Corbusier, Louis Kahn, Hasan Fathy,Laurie Baker who became/ are legends in their lifetime because of their distinctive approach to architecture.

or an excellent book such Toward a New Architecture by Le Corbusier, Bauhas and the New Architecture by Walter Gropius, .. Architects without Architects by Rudolfsky, The Pattern Language by Christopher Alexander, A Critical History of modern Architecture by Kenneth Frampton and many more..

or a thought provoking architectural idea like Archigram or Coop Himmelblau.

or a new movements like De Stilj,Purism, Cubism, Constructivism, Metabolism, De-constructivism, these were famous to begin with among a few critics, colleagues and academics. But now their fame has spread all around.

or all the self-styled self-projected type of want-to-be-famous types who use all the means at their disposal through some connections and links with people in media, press, politics, administration, organisations, industry to project their "achievements" or "art" or "architecture".

"The most important thing about the famous architect is that the famous architect is not the most important thing. It is the quality of the responsive architecture and environment produced as a result of his/her design..." Dr. Ashraf Salama

It is an enlightened view of those who understand the whole process of development, design and creation of architecture, who have a critical philosophical and ideological framework to analyse and evaluate any action,work, study, research or view point; who apply this critical mind and approach to the issues that matter to us and humanity, to guide us about the relative or absolute value of such famous architect / architecture over a period of time.

Like it is possible to track the spread of fame of the famous and infamous people, to investigate into the whole phenomenon of fame and notoriety but I think it is more important for us to devote our energy and resources to spread of good ideas,works, projects, writings,processes,technologies,techniques,studies,researches, activities, movements, and philosophies/ideologies etc. for all of us have limited time and energy.

There are many issues raised on ArchNet which merits our attention and responses. There are many young members who are asking some critical questions with whom we should engage in a discussion.

I am not suggesting that we close this discussion, but I would like us to take short pauses in between, and wait till there is some thought provoking issue raised by some other members and then respond!

We should be cautious about not crossing that invisible line which make people notorious!

It would be good if some people can identify the legendary architects and provide us new insights into their creativity.

I was keen on knowing more about local heroes, those who are famous locally due to their excellent work, but no one seems to be interested. I am puzzled !
Perhaps, I should try to open this as a new topic!

Now that Shiraz Allibhai has pointed out on creating a database on Islamic Architecture it would prompt some of our members to identify such architects and related consultants and master crafts-persons and document their projects. But architecture in other parts of the world is equally important. All the schools of architecture and concerned architects should take that up as their institutional and personal responsibility.

with best wishes,
Akhtar Chauhan
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
Sorry to stray off course. I want to respond to Akhtar's inquiry regarding the database on architecture. The database form can be accessed by clicking on the " Please click here" in the news item announcing the project. The form can be filled out online and submitted.

Better yet, you can click here.

Shiraz Allibhai
Why are famous architects famous? What are the factors that propel an architect to world fame?
I was going through the topics for debate and this one has caught my attention. This is an old topic from 2003, but I'm still willing to contribute a response.

As an artist, I constantly think about the factors, which leads an artist to celebration. One of the factors is-for me-to be willing to become a part of the Western World implying that the rest of the world is not good enough. It is also sad to confirm that fame is not about talents, hard work, and who you are, but it is about whom you know and with whom you hang out. I was making more or less the same art back in 1990, but no one seemed to be interested in much until I left the country I was born and immigrated to the USA and I feel like I'm better off if I call my art American, not Turkish. Shall I become cynical, what do you suggest?
Nilsen Turan-Kennedy
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