A number of people from all over the world are noted for their contributions to the field of architecture. The most famous architect is probably Frank Lloyd Wright, who worked in the 20th century, but many other names are well known and revered in the field of architecture. These famous architects are usually noted for the distinctiveness and individuality of their work, and many of them have such strong styles that their buildings are instantly recognizable. In a few instances, single architects totally turned the practice of architecture on its head, setting new trends and styles.
While many people think of people who worked relatively recently when they talk about famous architects, people have been famed for their building projects for thousands of years. Imhotep of Egypt, for example, is a noted architect of the ancient world. Christoper Wren, a British architect, is another famous architect who worked in a prior era, and Giacoma de Vignola and Leonardo da Vinci were Italian architects who worked during the Renaissance, developing the quintessential style which people associate with this period in history.
Stanford White, William Morris, Alexander Parris, Giuseppi Japelli, Alfred Waterhouse, Otto Wagner, Gottfried Semper, and Ignatius Bonomi are some famous architects from the 19th century. In the 20th century, some well known names include Buckminster Fuller, Antonio Gaudi, Adolf Loos, Alvar Aalto, Michael Graves, I.M. Pei, Aldo Rossi, Carlo Scarpa, Charles Eames, and Fumihiko Maki. These individuals pioneered schools of design such as Modern architecture and Bauhaus, and they had a major effect on society and culture in addition to architectural trends.
One of the interesting things about architecture as a field is that most famous architects aren't known just for their buildings. They are also noted for their furniture design, crafts, and landscape design in many cases. The Eames Chair, for example, was developed by Charles Eames. Developing beautiful and distinctive furnishings and works of art is a natural extension of a career in architecture, because great architecture is usually beautiful or distinctive, and its crafters often have a very excellent sense of aesthetics.
Unfortunately, there are very few famous architects who are women, and very few women work in the field. Notable female architects did not start appearing in any real numbers until the 20th century, and they face an uphill struggle in establishing themselves and getting their work known. Elizabeth Diller, Maya Lin, Mary Colter, and Amanda Levete are some of the more well known female names in architecture.