“Creativity” in architecture

Want to raise the hackles of any practicing architect?  Let them know who the “1o most creative architects” practicing today are.

There’s a general stereotype that wacky or unusual form defines creativity, or ‘avant-garde’ architecture.  What’s lost in this, of course, is that problem-solving is the much larger part of what we do, and often the projects with the deepest thought are the ones that look effortless.  And, of course, the structures here also needed the efforts of ‘creative’–and tireless–engineers.  (At least those that are actually built.  Some of these haven’t passed that hurdle, which often de-wackifies things considerably).  

The well-presented solution to a complex problem is under-represented in most histories, which is one of the reasons I’m interested in going back and trying to find examples that were at the edge not of formal innovation, but rather of balancing functional issues with means available.  This is a quieter group of folks–Burnham in Chicago, but also Eames, Kahn, and SOM.  I’d throw the high-tech folks into both categories, since in some cases (the lower budget projects, mostly), this attitude prevails.  When the constraints are off, the designs often get worse.  Foster, interestingly, is in this list, but for a building (Beijing Airport) that had some pretty impressive budget, schedule, and performance issues.