Richest Architects

Richest Architects – The Secrets of the Wealthiest Architects

Architecture has been a part of human culture and civilization since the very beginning, but the architects behind those designs were not always given the attention that they deserved. In more recent decades, many architects have managed to achieve far more success than any that came before them. Today, we’ll be looking at the richest architects in the world, so, keep reading to learn about the ten richest architects.



The Richest Architects in the World

Let’s have a look at the richest architects in the world. This will be a list of the highest-paid architects in the world, and most of them are living architects. A few architects whose fortunes are still notable long after their death are also noted in this list. However, before we can talk about the highest-paid architect in the world and the others who trail behind them, we need to look at the concept of net worth itself.

Net worth is a concept that is subject to variation based on inflation, random fluctuations, and sometimes a lack of information.

Net worth is generally something that is estimated rather than definitive. So, you will often find conflicting sources about the exact net worth of various architects as these amounts are not 100% certain. Now, before we get to the list itself, here is a table with each of the richest architects in brief.

RankArchitectNet Worth
10Bjarke Ingels $14 Million
9Kongjian Yu $15 Million
8Ludwig Mies van der Rohe $16 Million
7Renzo Piano $25 Million
6Frank Lloyd Wright $25 Million
5Santiago Calatrava $25 Million
4Moshe Safdie $100 Million
3Frank Gehry $100 Million
2Zaha Hadid $215 Million
1Norman Foster $240 Million

Now that we know the kinds of quantities we’re looking at, let’s look at each of these architects in far more depth. This list will be in descending order. The tenth richest architect in the world will come first and the last listed architect will be the highest-paid architect in the world. Let’s get started.


Bjarke Ingels (Net Worth $14 Million)

Architectural StyleUtopian architecture
Years 1974 – Present
Net Worth$14 million
Place of BirthCopenhagen, Denmark

Bjarke Ingels is a Danish architect who would go on to found the Bjarke Ingels Group, an architectural firm dedicated to the creation of structures that are often majestic in their execution. He came to prominence after designing two major housing complexes in Ørestad. After that, he went on to design a large array of structures that embraced a kind of intricacy that was often neglected during the Modern architectural era.

Bjarke Ingels Net WorthØrestads Boulevard VM Houses is a housing project consisting of two adjacent apartment buildings in Ørestad. By JDS Architects and BIG (Bjarke Ingels), 2004 to 2005; Fred Romero from Paris, FranceCC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Bjarke Ingels designed structures such as the Danish Maritime Museum, Europa City, and Superkilen. His work has been described as somewhat utopian in its presentation, and a representation of a more optimistic possible future. He used this architectural ability to eventually accrue a net worth of about $14 million.


Kongjian Yu (Net Worth $15 Million)

Architectural StyleEcological urbanism
Years 1963 – Present
Net Worth$15 million
Place of BirthDongyu Village, China

Kongjian Yu is a Chinese landscape architect as well as a writer and educator. He attained a high level of education before he embraced the world of architecture. He was born the son of a farmer, and so he wanted to develop a more ecological form of architectural design. This is why he went on to innovate and create the “Sponge City” concept. This is the idea of creating an urban environment that is designed to absorb floods while protecting ecological diversity. He has gone on to become one of the most important urban planners and landscape architects in the world because of his dedication to a greener approach to construction and planning.

His sponge city concept was even taken on board by the Chinese government for nationwide implementation for future developments.

To Kongjian Yu, landscape architecture is an act of survival. He describes it this way, and in light of increased issues surrounding the changing climate, design decisions like this can go a long way to mitigate some of the damage that has been done and will continue to be done in our world. Along the way, Kongjian Yu managed to accumulate a large net worth and has become one of the richest architects in the world with a net worth of $15 million.


Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (Net Worth $16 Million)

Architectural StyleModernist architecture
Years 1886 – 1969
Net Worth$16 million
Place of BirthAachen, Germany

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe was one of the most important architects in the Modern era. He is remembered alongside a variety of other major Modernist architects, like Walter Gropius and Le Corbusier. He also started with considerable prestige as he was the last director of the Bauhaus, which was an incredibly important school that emphasized Modern architecture and design. After fleeing his home country because of the rise of the Nazi Party, he immigrated to the United States. He went on to become the head of architecture at the Illinois Institute of Chicago.

Norman Foster Net WorthThe exterior of the Neue National Galerie in Berlin, Germany; A.Savin, FAL, via Wikimedia Commons

Thereafter, he continued his architectural style and developed it into one of the most influential of the Modern era. He would develop his structures around the overarching views of functionality and simplicity. They made use of materials like steel frames and plate glass exteriors to produce a larger, more simplified internal space. The idea behind this form of architecture was to emphasize the idea of “less is more.” There was no extravagance to be found. It was meant to be purely functional. Using this style, he could accumulate a net worth that today is worth $16 million.


Renzo Piano (Net Worth $25 Million)

Architectural StylePostmodern architecture
Years 1937 – Present
Net Worth$25 million
Place of BirthGenoa, Italy

Renzo Piano is an Italian architect who founded the Renzo Piano Building Workshop, and through this organization, he was able to attain his current considerable wealth. His work incorporates a variety of styles, and he does not believe himself to be particularly attached to any specific architectural school. He designed structures as disparate as The Shard in London and some of the Crown Class Cruise Ships that are still in use. He has transcended ordinary styles to produce structures in various ways that defy standard categorization. He is an immensely prolific architect and he has won numerous awards.

Interestingly, he also obtained the title of Senator for Life in the Italian Senate, and he has served in this role since 2013.

When he became a Senator for Life, he implemented an architectural team full of young architects and tasked them with a mission. That mission was to transform Italy’s major city centers, and these young architects are even paid for with the money that Piano would have received for being a Senator for Life. This project has led to developments in Rome, Milan, Turin, Venice, and Padua. Renzo Piano managed to grow his net worth to a staggering $25 million through his various works.

Who Is the Richest ArchitectA view of The Shard in London, United Kingdom; Jamie Street jamie452, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons


Frank Lloyd Wright (Net Worth $25 Million)

Architectural StyleOrganic and Modern architecture
Years 1867 – 1959
Net Worth$25 million
Place of BirthRichland Center, Wisconsin, United States

Frank Lloyd Wright was one of the most important pioneers in Modernist architecture, and he developed over a thousand structures over the course of his long career. He is one of the most famous architects to have ever lived, and he is also well-known for his development of so-called organic architecture. This particular strain of architectural design, which incorporates the environment into the structure of the building, is best shown in one of his most famous buildings, Fallingwater. Wright was particularly associated with the Prairie School movement and his development of a utopian planning system called Broadacre City. He is one of the most important academic architects to have ever lived, and over the course of his illustrious career, he gained considerable wealth.

Frank Lloyd Wright Net WorthPortrait photograph of Frank Lloyd Wright, 1954; New York World-Telegram and the Sun staff photographer: Al Ravenna, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

He may have died many decades ago, but his net worth would have been worth about $25 million today. Alongside his more academic inclinations, he designed a variety of structures for a variety of purposes. There are offices, schools, hotels, museums, skyscrapers, and many other types of structures with his name on them. He also designed many of the interiors of the buildings that he designed. So, he was definitely quite the all-rounder.


Santiago Calatrava (Net Worth $25 Million)

Architectural StyleVarious
Years 1951 – Present
Net Worth$25 million
Place of BirthValencia, Spain

Santiago Calatrava is a Spanish architect, but also a sculptor and painter. He is particularly well-known for his bridges that are supported by solitary leaning pylons as well as his stadiums, railway stations, and museums. He often designs his structures to use more organic forms, like the City of Arts and Sciences and the Opera House in Valencia. His sculptural and painted works would also go on to influence his architecture, and some of his artistic work is even used within some of the structures that he designed. However, despite his many talents as an architect and creative, he does not consider himself to be a follower of any particular architectural movement.

However, Calatrava’s work has not been without criticism.

Many of his newer structures have gone considerably over budget, implemented numerous delays, and exhibited functional problems. Some of the issues his work has resulted in can be seen in designs such as the glass tile floors on a bridge he designed in Bilbao becoming immensely slippery in the rain, and he also developed metal arches that were meant to allow for the growth of vines, but because of the material used, the vines literally baked in the sun and didn’t grow. Regardless of these issues, he has managed to build up a net worth of $25 million over his lengthy career.

Highest Paid Architect in the WorldThe Bac de Roda Bridge in Barcelona, Spain (1984–87): Calatrava’s first bridge; Ralf Roletschek (GFDL 1.2 or FAL), via Wikimedia Commons


Moshe Safdie (Net Worth $100 Million)

Architectural StylePostmodern architecture
Years 1938 – Present
Net Worth$100 million
Place of BirthHaifa, Israel

Moshe Safdie is one of the absolute richest architects in the world, and he is best known for designing structures that are meant to be socially responsible. He has designed various structures for cultural, civic, residential, and educational purposes throughout his long and varied career, and he is perhaps best known as the designer of the Jewel Changi Airport and the Marina Bay Sands.

His career has allowed him to amass about $100 million. This is a staggering net worth for any architect, but for one who has been so prolific over the course of his career, and designed some of the most stunning contemporary structures, it makes sense that he is also one of the richest architects in the world.


Frank Gehry (Net Worth $100 Million)

Architectural StylePostmodern architecture
Years 1929 – Present
Net Worth$100 million
Place of BirthToronto, Canada

Frank Gehry is one of the most famous, if not the most famous, living architect. He is a Canadian-born American architect and his often-bizarre works have come to characterize much of the contemporary forms of architecture. His actual style is said to “defy categorization”, and this is very likely true. Some of his most famous structures include the Walt Disney Concert Hall, the Hotel Marqués de Riscal, and, perhaps most famously, the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao.

His work is often bizarre and is often considered to appear somewhat unfinished, but this is often in line with Deconstructivism architecture (although this is a label he rejects).

His immensely famous structures have netted him considerable wealth, and his net worth sits at $100 million. However, he has received quite considerable criticism. For instance, his structures are sometimes claimed to be wasteful, containing design flaws, not taking into account the environment in which they are constructed, and being designed for the ultra-wealthy. These are valid critiques that have not managed to stop him from becoming one of the richest architects in the world.

Frank Gehry Net WorthFrank Gehry’s Guggenheim Museum in Bilbau, Spain; Julio535CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons


Zaha Hadid (Net Worth $215 Million)

Architectural StyleDeconstructionism architecture
Years 1950 – 2016
Net Worth$215 million
Place of BirthBaghdad, Iraq

Zaha Hadid was one of the most important and influential architects of the late-20th and early-21st centuries. Her work has often been considered to adopt an immensely curve-oriented design that made comprehensive use of geometric patterns and shapes. Some of her most famous structures include the Broad Art Museum and the MAXXI Museum. She was the first woman to win the highly sought-after Pritzker Architecture Prize and would go on to also win the most prestigious architectural prize in the United Kingdom, the Stirling Prize.

Zaha Hadid Net WorthZaha Hadid in the Heydar Aliyev Cultural Center in Baku, 2013; Dmitry Ternovoy, FAL, via Wikimedia Commons

Her accolades led to her being granted the title of Dame by Queen Elizabeth II, and she even won awards after her relatively early passing. Her work is considered difficult to categorize, but it is often associated with Deconstructivism, although it has also been described as Parametricism and Neo-Futurism. Regardless of the labels attached to her work, she was able to amass a substantial fortune and would end her career with a $215 million net worth.


Norman Foster (Net Worth $240 Million)

Architectural StyleHigh-tech architecture
Years 1935 – Present
Net Worth$240 million
Place of BirthStockport, United Kingdom

The British architect Norman Foster, or Baron Foster of Thames Bank, is, by far, the richest architect in the world. He founded the architectural firm Foster + Partners, and this firm has gone on to develop some of the largest and most famous structures in the contemporary world. For his service, he was even knighted and made into a baron. He has constructed numerous famous structures such as Apple Park, the Reichstag building, and Wembley Stadium. He is one of the most important figures in British Modernist architecture, and he also leads the Norman Foster Foundation, which is meant to promote an interdisciplinary approach for architects around the world.

Norman Forster managed to accrue an immense net worth of $240 million. However, he isn’t only an incredibly wealthy man who is one of the richest architects in the world, but he’s also a British cultural icon. This can be seen in the artistic work of Sir Peter Blake.

Peter Blake, along with Jann Haworth, designed the famous cover for the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. This is one of the most famous pieces of album cover art in the world, and for a new 2012 version of this famous image, which incorporates various famed cultural figures, he decided to add Norman Foster to the image. Not only is Norman Foster rich and famous, but he’s also famous enough to make it into the annals of British cultural history.


We have come to the end of our look at the richest architects in the world. Many of these architects are also some of the most famous architects, but not necessarily. We have looked at ten of the richest architects and their lives and works. So, hopefully, you learned a few things about these famed architects along the way. Have a great day/week/month ahead, and always remember to keep learning whenever possible!




Frequently Asked Questions


Who Is the Richest Architect in the World?

So, just who is the richest architect in the world? Well, the highest-paid architect in the world is Norman Foster, who became famous enough in his home country that he has even attained the additional title, Baron Foster of Thames Bank. He is a British architect who is often associated with High-tech architecture. He, and his firm, have designed many buildings around the world and have received numerous accolades for their designs.


Who Is the Most Famous Living Architect?

The most famous and richest architects are not necessarily one and the same. While Norman Foster could be considered the most famous, the Postmodern architect Frank Gehry, who designed structures that include Disney Village, Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, and the Marqués de Riscal Hotel, could also be deemed the most famous living architect. This is up for debate though.


Who Is the Most Important Architect?

This would be an intensely contentious question because determining importance is a difficult thing to do. However, in the Western world, it could be argued that Vitruvius, the Roman architect who wrote what is often considered to be the first book on architecture, is the most important architect. His work informed the Renaissance authors who rediscovered his influential text, and used the knowledge contained within to innovate based on Classical models. However, there could be debates about his importance versus the importance of other architects.


Cite this Article

Justin, van Huyssteen, “Richest Architects – The Secrets of the Wealthiest Architects.” artfilemagazine – Your Online Art Source. October 25, 2023. URL:

van Huyssteen, J. (2023, 25 October). Richest Architects – The Secrets of the Wealthiest Architects. artfilemagazine – Your Online Art Source.

van Huyssteen, Justin. “Richest Architects – The Secrets of the Wealthiest Architects.” artfilemagazine – Your Online Art Source, October 25, 2023.

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