How 3 innovative architecture firms are solving major urban issues

Last month, Walker Thisted, BuiltWorlds producer and resident architect, visited New York for the fifth annual Architizer A+ Awards. While he was there, he caught up with some members of the BuiltWorlds network, in addition to other innovative architecture firms in the industry. 

Some of the architects who won awards included:

Several of the awards jurors invited BuiltWorlds to their offices, including: Shohei Shigematsu, partner of the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA), Eran Chen, founder and executive director of ODA, and Gregg Pasquarelli, principal of SHoP Architects.

What we learned on our visits

Visiting these practices and talking with their leaders provided the opportunity to consider the next generation of design and construction from three rather different perspectives. Each firm has a unique history that colors the current shape of the practice. OMA was founded in 1975, SHoP in 1997, and ODA in 2007.

More so than perhaps any other firm founded in the past 50 years, OMA has influenced the direction of architectural practice through research, architectural theory, provocative buildings, broad urban interventions, and historical preservation. They also boast a long list of well known alumni, including: Zaha Hadid, Ole Scheeren, Fernando Romero, Joshua Prince-Ramus, Matthias Hollwich, Jeanne Gang, and Bjarke Ingels.

This pedigree and history of producing the next generation of talent to lead firms has made the question of what happens to OMA when founder Rem Koolhaas retires all the more compelling.

SHoP, on the other hand, is a younger firm that has forged an identity for designing projects with incredible attention to the construction method and then seeing the process through to completion.

Finally, ODA — the youngest of the firms we visited — has developed a reputation for careful attention to building codes and the inclusion of large amounts of green space on rooftops and deep three dimensional inhabitable facades.

Read about our visit to each architecture firm:

Part II: OMA New York

Part III: ODA Architecture

Part IV: SHoP Architects