In honor of Archtober, a month-long celebration of New York City architecture and design, we’ve put together a little primer on city architecture at the present moment. Here are six of the most important residential architects and firms now working in NYC, along with their top local projects — plus some fun facts to impress your friends.


Photo of American Copper building

SHoP’s American Copper building.

SHoP Architects has been on the forefront of the NYC architecture scene since the firm was founded in the late ’90s. Something of a local wunderkind, SHoP was named Fast Company’s “most innovative architecture firm in 2014” and is renowned for wildly creative designs and mega-projects that have redefined entire neighborhoods. Barclays Center, the LaGuardia Airport master plan, and the new Pier 17 are just a few of the firm’s major projects.

SHoP buildings in NYC: 

Fun fact: The name SHoP is a combination of the last initial of the firm’s original five principles — Christopher and William Sharples (twins), Coren Sharples (wife of William), and Kimberly Holden and Greg Pasquarelli (who are married to each other.) It’s a family affair!

Robert A.M. Stern

Image of Robert AM Stern and 15 CPW

Robert A.M. Stern and 15 Central Park West.

Robert A.M. Stern is pretty much the godfather of New Classical luxury residential design, both in New York City and nationwide. Born in Brooklyn in 1939, this local boy has come a long way from his humble beginnings, graduating from Columbia and then the Yale School of Architecture (where he was later dean). His firm has designed hundreds of upscale developments and palatial residences, mostly in pricey areas like the Upper East Side, Gramercy Park, Tribeca and the Hamptons.

Robert A.M. Stern buildings in NYC:

Fun fact: Stern and the artist Richard Serra were roommates at the Yale School of Architecture. He’s an aficionado of yellow socks and pocket squares.

Norman Foster

Image of Iconic NYC architects

Norman Foster and 50 U.N. Plaza.

Norman Foster is a British architect known for his glass residential towers and expansive corporate headquarters. He’s been a prolific builder for decades, rubbing elbows in the early days with avant-garde designers like Buckminster Fuller. Though he’s slowly become more mainstream, Foster has never lost his innovative edge, and continues to produce show-stopping projects like the Apple Park in Cupertino, the Hearst Tower in Midtown, and the Gherkin in London.

Norman Foster buildings in NYC:

Fun fact: It’s actually Lord Norman Foster. The architect was knighted in 1990, and was later elevated to the title of Baron Foster of Thames Bank.

Bjarke Ingels

image of Bjarke Ingalls and 57via

Bjarke Ingels and Via57 West.

Although this Danish dreamboat has been producing major works in Europe for quite some time, he skyrocketed to the top of New York City’s hot-architect list when plans for Via57 West were revealed. Real life lived up to the renderings. The Dane’s first major residential project in the Americas changed the Midtown skyline and has sealed Ingels’ place in the New York City architecture pantheon.

Bjarke Ingels buildings in NYC:

Fun fact: Bjarke Ingels met his girlfriend, Ruth Otero, a Spanish architect, at Burning Man.

Zaha Hadid

Image of Zaha Hadid and 520 West 28th street

Zaha Hadid and 520 West 28th Street.

Born in Baghdad in 1950, Zaha Hadid was a maverick in her field, known for futuristic, seemingly impossible-to-construct buildings and symmetry-defying structures. A pioneer in every sense of the word, she was the first woman to win the Pritzker Prize in architecture and was named a Dame by Queen Elizabeth II in 2012. She died suddenly of a heart attack in 2016.

Zaha Hadid buildings in NYC:

Fun fact: After Hadid’s sudden death, Patrik Schumacher took over at the helm of her firm. Like Hadid, he’s an independent thinker and non-conformist. Some of his comments, however, have gotten him in trouble — like one speech at the Berlin World Architecture Festival in which he called for the privatization of cities, leading some to call him the “Trump of Architecture.”

Rafael Viñoly

Image of Rafael Vinoly and 432 Park

Rafael Viñoly and 432 Park Avenue.

Rafael Viñoly is a Uruguayan architect who came to New York City by way of Buenos Aires. His firm has been active in the city for more than 25 years, but prior to winning the bid for 432 Park Avenue, the majority of his NYC projects were cultural, civic and academic spaces.

Rafael Viñoly buildings in NYC:

Fun fact: All that horrible nighttime traffic on the FDR last summer was, essentially, Viñoly’s fault. His firm won a bid to redesign Rockefeller University, whose campus directly abuts the roadway. Construction plans required the FDR to shut down after midnight for three months

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