« When we planned the first Design Vanguard issue in 2000, we wanted to provide a launching pad for the next generation of architects shaking up the design world. We picked 10 firms that seemed to be looking at architecture from fresh perspectives — incorporating digital technologies, exploring the nature of materials, and rethinking the way fabrication and construction engage design. Today, many of those architects have made significant contributions to the profession. The publication this month of our 10th Vanguard issue offers us a chance to look back for a moment and appreciate the changing landscape of architecture. Back in 2000, seven of the Vanguard firms called the United States home, though a few of the individual architects had been born elsewhere. This year, only three firms are based in the U.S., though a number of partners in foreign studios studied here. This changing geographic mix does not reflect any diminished talent pool in America; rather, it shows a rising tide of innovation and construction in other places. Right now, the large volume of building in Asia alone offers architects there myriad opportunities to explore their ideas and hone their craft, so it’s not surprising that we include two firms from China and one from Japan this year. Spain too (and Latin America in previous years) has seen an explosion of talent pushing the boundaries of architectural knowledge.
We never set an age limit for Vanguard architects, because we know that talent rarely can be exercised right out of school. Instead, we use a very rough rule of thumb, looking for firms in operation for 10 years or less. We want this program to showcase emerging architects who have at least some building under their belts but are still approaching design from new directions. These people aren’t kids; they’re rising stars, provocateurs, and trailblazers. This year’s class features some architects who have built quite a lot and a few who are working on large projects with sizable staffs — signs of business savvy, showmanship, and a recent period of enormous economic growth. With the boom over in many parts of the world, we’re interested in seeing how future Vanguard firms adjust and turn the new reality to their advantage. »
(Source: Architectural Record. Photo: « Plus » by Mount Fuji Architects Studio)