Stephen Hawking iconoclast. Who are the iconoclasts in buildings?

Stephen Hawking was by any definition a great man.

He was famous for his incredible brain and his ground breaking theory about black holes and the origins of the universe (you can watch a short animation of his big ideas).

His longevity defied the boundaries of motor neurone disease, probably in no small part, thanks to his colossal determination, humour, curiosity and gratitude. He was a charming and popular man who famously said, “Life would be tragic if it weren’t funny” and starred in Star Trek and Big Bang Theory, featured in The Simpsons, and appeared in Pink Floyd’s music.

Our admiration for Stephen Hawking got us thinking – who is his equivalent in the world of buildings… who has broken the mould? Sadly, we don’t think there is a current superstar like Stephen Hawking. But, we happily realised that at the heart of our favourite buildings, we find the same humanity as at the heart of Stephen Hawking’s life and work.

People that broke the mould in buildings

We came up with a shortlist of personal favourites:

Frank Gehry, Richard Rogers, Norman Foster, Antonio Gaudi.

Of course, this is a subjective list, but each of them created jaw dropping spaces – museums, public buildings, workplaces and places for collaboration that enrich people’s lives.

Their buildings are often visually stunning. However, visual appeal is often a welcome by-product and there are exceptions: you could argue that Richard Rogers’ Centre Pompidou is ugly.

The point is that the world’s best buildings have such impact because they enhance the human experience and challenge the norm.

Each of these architects have challenged received wisdom and approached problems in a radically different way. The results are innovations that are copied by others.

Great architecture and design produces great spaces that function well for their occupants.

These are principles that we love to see applied to workplaces (because after all that’s what we do every day at LCMB). People must like the buildings and want to spend time inside them. Workplaces have to attract, retain and nurture talent. Buildings and workplaces should bring out the best in us all.

So we ask, – Is there anyone in our industry with the potential to capture the public’s imagination even to a fraction of the extent that Stephen Hawking achieved?

We would love to hear your thoughts. Please leave your suggestions and comments below. We will undertake to profile any of your suggestions.

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