Architecture is a fascinating profession, encompassing many different disciplines; art, engineering, and environmental science. The architect’s fame is built on multiple things like knowing the client’s vision, creating structural sound, aesthetically pleasing buildings, and creating a portfolio of work that furthers their career. Architecture continues to be the most influential career, creating monuments for human history that remain standing for the next generation. As our country expands, the need for new residential and commercial locations grows, creating an elite group of architects. According to money.us.news, the average salary for an architect is approximately $80,000. These twenty architects are making four to twenty-four times the national average.
20. Santiago Calatrava – Net Worth: $1.4 Million
He is an artist, designer, and architect, residing in New York City. TheWorld Trade Center is his most well-known work. The Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge is the newest, finished in Dallas in 2021. Although many architects often give speeches as part of their work. Instead, Caltarava’s second career is sculpting. He has one notorious distinction. According to Fast Company, in 2014, he was the most despised architect. They felt he was consistently going over on project budget. Other architects like Michael Graves and Peter Eisenmann made similar comments at a symposium. However, this is a rarity; their contemporaries do not overtly criticize most architectures.
19. Marianna McKenna – Net Worth: $3 Million
Marianne is a co-founder of KPMB Architects and an Officer of the Order of Canada. Marianne is a strong supporter of using architecture to encourage the public and incorporate sustainability and innovation to have the most substantial potential impact on urban and environmental challenges. Her diverse portfolio includes restoring and expanding the Park Hyatt hotel and residences in Toronto to the Jackson-Triggs Niagara Estate Winery in Niagara-on-the-Lake. In 2016, Marianne was the Norman R. Foster Visiting Professor at Yale School of Architecture. She served on the board of Metrolinx, Ontario’s public transportation agency, for six years. She currently serves on the Advisory Board for Laurentian University’s McEwen School of Architecture. Her firm is one of the most prestigious in Toronto, sharing this honor with Frank Ghery’s firm.
18. Kengo Kuma – Net Worth: $5 Million
Kengo Kuma is a native Japanese architect. He is a significant modern architect and a professor at the University of Tokyo’s Graduate School of Architecture. The study of place is essential to integrating his structures with nature, not to obstruct the balance but instead become a natural product built by human hands. One of the key themes he has investigated through his professional life is the connection between graphics and architecture, producing meaningful results such as the Lotus House or Prostho Museum Research Center in Kasugai-shi. Kengo Kuma’s work has been recognized internationally and has received prestigious awards such as the Spirit of Nature Wood Architecture Award and the Art Encouragement Prize from the Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology for Yusuhara Wooden Bridge Museum.
17. Hafeez Sorab Contractor – Net Worth: $5 Million
He is a designer, urban planner, and architect from India. He has reinvented India’s urban landscape through his firm, especially in highly populated Indian cities such as New Delhi. Hafeez Sorab Contractor is India’s wealthiest architect. Unlike most well-known architects, Hafeez’s primary source of income is from commissioned work. According to indianexpress.com, Hafeez focuses on his clients. May come to him with pieces of land, wanting him to create residences. He feels that an architect is one to save the world. He takes this mission seriously, always having a sketchbook nearby to draw his next project.
16. Philip Johnson – Net Worth: $5 Million (adjusted for inflation)
He was an American architect and theorist who is best known for the design of his house, the Glass House, in New Canaan, Connecticut, which he built for himself and his family. Johnson was a well-known advocate of the International Style, and he was crucial in establishing post-modernist architectural phraseology. In 1979, he was awarded the prestigious Pritzker Architecture Prize. Among his most recognizable works are the Amon Carter Museum of Western Art and the New York State Theater at Lincoln Center. One of Johnson’s most memorable pieces is the John F Kennedy Memorial in Dallas, Texas. When commissioned, people thought he’d do something grand like a flame similar to Washington DC. But, instead, he made another of his signature moves and did a small concrete structure.
15. Rem Koolhas – Net Worth: $5 Million
Ren is a Dutch architect and environmentalist, well-known for his creative and nuanced conceptual designs. Although, people consider his work as postmodern, deconstructive, and structuralistic. Most critics feel his work reflects humanism, searching for the link between technology and humanity. In 1975, he co-founded the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) in London, still fully operational. Since earning the Pritzker Prize, Koolhaas’s work is world-famous. Some of the most notable designs are the Netherlands Embassy in Berlin, Germany, The Seattle Public Library in Seattle, Washington, and the CCTV Building in Beijing, China. According to thougtco.com, Koolhaas confessed only 5% of his designs are finalized because the architectural field is highly competitive. However, he’s immortalized his plans in his book, Delirious New York.
14. Jeanne Gang – Net Worth: $5 Million
Her work focuses on sustainability and solutions to environmental issues, using recycled materials to conserve resources. Her most outstanding achievement is Aqua Tower, an 82 story skyscraper in downtown Chicago. In 2010, it was among the tallest building in the world designed by a woman. While attending the University of Illinois, she received her Bachelor’s in architecture, emphasizing urban design. She interned with another famous architect on this list, Rem Koolhas, after graduating from Harvard with a Master’s in Architecture. In 2006, she received the MacArthur Award for her exceptional work in architecture. Additionally, she is a published author; Studio Gang Architects, released in 2011.
13. Emilio Tunon – Net Worth: $8 Million
His Madrid-based architectural practice works on projects throughout the world. Over two decades, he has won numerous awards for work on projects and competitions throughout Europe, North America, and Asia, earning some of the most prestigious architectural accolades in Europe. Tuón’s work focuses on cultural projects and many of Spain’s most highly regarded museums and organizations. Each piece places a high value on the existing environment and urban matters.
12. Yansong Ma – Net Worth: $10 Million
He has established himself as a considerable voice among some of the new generation of architects in the United States. He is the first Chinese architect to be commissioned to design a landmark building in another country. He is the founder and principal of MAD Architects; he aspires to restore a new balance to society, the city, and the environment Ma is the first Chinese architect to receive a commission outside China; the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art in Chicago. The Royal Institute of British Architects presented him with a fellowship in 2010; another first.
11. Sir David Adjave – Net Worth: $10 Million
He is a Ghanaian-British architect who has built a reputation with his multicultural design elements. His childhood exposed him to diverse cultures and design elements since we were already a world traveler in adolescence. A celebrated architect, he won the RIBA Bronze Medal and MIT McDermott awards. His portfolio includes the National African American History and Culture Museum in Washington DC and the Moscow School of Management Skolkovo. Much of his work is inspired by his brother, who had physical disabilities. In an article for Stirworld, Sir Adjave discusses these feelings; architecture acts as a platform for social change.
10. Kara Mann – Net Worth: $11 Million
This architect is the founding director of three national firms in Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles. Throughout the architectural field, her name is synonymous with a renegade. Mann’s use of formal design elements combined with unexpected subjectivity, architectural design, and quirkiness has attracted clients from the art, fashion, finance, music, and entertainment industries. Gwenyth Paltrow chose Mann’s firm to design a building in Chicago for Goop. Architectural Digest ran an article about another of Mann’s most famous projects, The Chicago Lake House. Mann details her client’s taste, describing it as reminiscent of romantic locations in Europe. At completion, the lake house is a bold reimaging with modern influences.
9. Maya Lin – Net Worth: $12 Million
Her fame is not only architecture but also sculpture, helping her better understand structural integrity. Growing up in Ohio shaped her vision of architecture and how it affects every aspect of our lives. Even in high school, she took classes that focused on her future career, including bronze casting. Her model integrates traditional Chinese architecture with the rural surroundings of her childhood. Lin’s early success enabled her to examine how conceptions of her work shifted significantly over time. At first antagonistic responses to her work gave way to widespread public admiration for pushing boundaries.
8. Kongjian Yu – Net Worth: $15 million
Kongjian Yu is the founder and president of Turenscape, one of China’s most prominent architectural firms. In the last two decades, the ecological urbanist has reshaped China’s urban planning. In an interview with dirt.asla.org, they discuss Yu winning the prestigious Jellicoe Award. During his speech, he thanked the award namesake. He finished the speech talking about his roots, how they affect his work, and the delicate balance between human structure and the environment.
7. Bjarke Ingels – Net Worth: $17 Million
He studied architecture at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts to hone his drawing skills and become a cartoonist. However, over time he realized his true calling was architecture. In 2016, he was named one of the world’s most influential people, alongside Mark Zuckerberg. His design ideas are shaping the future. According to archives.curbed.com, Elon Musk, co-founder of Tesla, engineered the Hyperloop, a tube transit system. This project is co-collaborated by Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) and Jacob Lange.
6. Renzo Piano – Net Worth: $20 Million
His second career as an accountant shapes Piano’s architectural vision. In 1937, he was born in Italy to a family of construction workers. He assisted his father on job sites at a young age, instilling the power of hands-on work. Early projects were a joint venture with Richard Rogers. One of their most notable projects was Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris. According to famous-architects.org, The project flipped the architectural world on its head.
5. Frank Lloyd Wright – Net Worth: $25 Million (adjusted for inflation)
He is among the most influential architects of the twenty-first century. His impressive portfolio includes a thousand designs, over half becoming completed structures; private homes, office buildings, hotels, churches, museums, and countless others. His style created buildings that naturally integrated into the landscape. According to wealthygenius.com, his most famous construct was Fallingwater, a building that perches on a waterfall.
4. Le Corbusier – Net Worth:$40 Million (adjusted for inflation)
He was a painter and architect. His architecture was mainly comprised of steel and reinforced concrete using elemental geometric forms. Le Corbusier’s artwork emphasized simple design and structures, which aligned his architecture. He traveled to Europe and the Mediterranean after building his first house, inspiring three architectural discoveries. According to biography.com, these revelations included spatial awareness of buildings compared to their surrounding environment, classical proportion versus Renaissance architecture, and topography as an architecture and design tool.
3. Zaha Hadid – Net Worth:$89 Million (adjusted for inflation)
She dominated a male-driven profession and rose to one of the wealthiest architects before she died in 2016. Her concepts are described as “radical deconstructivist designs,” According to Britannica, this trailblazer was the first female recipient of the Pritzker Architecture prize in 2004.
2. Frank Gehry – Net Worth: $100 Million
Besides his immense wealth, Gehry has another distinction; the oldest architecture still working. The redesigning of modern cities is primarily his work. Frank Ghery’s most acclaimed projects are the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Experience Music Project in Seattle, and the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles.
1. Norman Foster – Net Worth: $240 Million
Although architecture is constantly evolving, his place at the top has not. According to Tuko, Norman Foster remains at number one for most affluent architects since 2011. His portfolio includes notable buildings like Hearst Tower, Citic Bank Headquarters in Hangzhou, China, and the Swiss Tower RE in London.