7 Creative Architecture Firms Garnering Attention

Great architecture marries form and function, offering an attractive display at the same time as it organizes our experience of a particular space. Whether you're constructing a home, a school, or a high-rise office tower, the choice of firm is a decisive factor. Design companies must develop signature styles in order to stand out. This list compiles, in no particular order, architecture groups that are making a splash today.

Starting off our list at #1 is Office of David O'Shea. Established in 2002, this firm has developed a diverse client base and accomplished a broad range of projects, all with the aim of realizing contemporary architecture. It works closely with clients to instill a sense of curiosity and excitement, and to confront some of the restrictive prejudices of modern design.

Office of David O'Shea has received the Fit Out Design Practice of the Year and the Conservation Award, for the project The Masonry. It also won an accolade for its work on Slack European HQ. Additionally, the company's works appear in publications such as City Houses, which features the Percy Lane project, and Hotel Designs, which spotlights The Mayson Hotel in Dublin.

Next up, at #2 is GRT Architects. Founded by Rustam-Marc Mehta and Tal Schori in 2014, the firm has expanded its work from an early focus on adapting historic buildings in New York City, to including collaborations with artists and galleries. GRT experiments with materials and is hands-on during construction, often creating its own prototypes and overseeing the fabrication of specialty components.

Each year GRT sets aside time for work that is self-initiated, collaborative, or supports organizations with shared values. It has worked alongside artists, brewers, and students to build projects that support voter registration, community redevelopment, and education.

In 2020, GRT Architects won an award for the project Dutchess County Studio, an 800-square-foot open plan space shaped like a pinwheel with an identical roof atop a beak-like clerestory window. Another of the firm's designs was listed by Dwell Magazine as one of the Top 10 Renovations of 2019: the Prospect Lefferts Garden Townhouse located in Brooklyn, New York.

Taking the #3 spot on our list is Finegold Alexander Architects, a company based in Boston, Massachusetts. The firm's founders were some of the first architects to conceive of a new approach to the practice, adapting rather than demolishing. The legacy of the firm continues to this day under the leadership of this women-owned business. Where others see obstacles, the firm looks through the lens of the adaptive use movement, seeing opportunities that can shape the future.

Finegold Alexander Architects aims to continuously improve the energy use intensity and sustainability of its projects. The Lowell Justice Center, Boston University's Dahod Alumni Center, and UMass Amherst's Old Chapel, for example, are designed to maximize energy efficiency and provide welcoming, inclusive, and accessible facilities. Two adaptive use projects in Massachusetts, Salem Jail Residences and Cable Mills Residences, have been featured in Coldwell Banker's Global Luxury publication.

Up next at #4 is CetraRuddy, an international award-winning architecture, planning, and interior design firm based in New York City. Founded by John Cetra and Nancy J. Ruddy, the company works throughout the United States and abroad at varied scales and across typologies, including multifamily housing, hospitality, education, cultural, and commercial projects.

The firm's Lincoln Square Synagogue won the SARA New York Design Award in 2016. Other cultural projects have included Basketball City at Pier 36 and the New York City branch of the Swedish art institution Fotografiska.

#5 is Clive Wilkinson Architects, based in Culver City in the Los Angeles area. Approaching every organization as a "human community," the firm sees its role as envisioning and designing environments that support, enhance, and invigorate contemporary life.

Since 1991, the group has completed more than six million square feet of creative workplace, educational, institutional, and residential projects across the globe. In the process, it has garnered more than 165 domestic and international design honors, including a National Design Award from the Smithsonian museum branch dedicated to the craft.

The #6 entry is KieranTimberlake, founded in 1984 in Philadelphia. Its projects include the programming, planning, and design of new structures as well as the conservation, renovation, and transformation of existing buildings. The firm has special expertise in education, government, arts and culture, civic, and residential projects.

KieranTimberlake sees itself as pushing the boundaries of current norms for design and construction, and pursuing broad questions around the practice. Seeking ways to improve the art, quality, and craft of architecture, it sponsors research into new materials, processes, assemblies, and products.

Closing out the list at #7, Weber Thompson prides itself on a commitment to understanding each client's vision and unique criteria for success. It envisages design as a collaborative effort, and views its role as the prime design consultant coordinating between owner, stakeholders, consultants, and contractors.

Architectural projects by Weber Thompson have included high-rises, affordable housing, commercial buildings, hospitality design, mixed-use constructions, and multifamily homes. The company also practices landscape architecture, in addition to interior design, urban planning, environmental graphics, and research.