The World's Top 10 Most Innovative Companies In Architecture

Bold designs, innovative business models, and risky projects define the best in architecture this year.

1. SHoP ARCHITECTS

For transforming the business behind erecting buildings. With projects like Brooklyn's Barclays Center, New York's first modular high-rise, and the controversial refurbishment of an old waterfront sugar factory, the firm has gone from boutique to big commissions in only a few years. Unlike most architects, SHoP is also diving into the real estate market, rethinking how its architects get paid by trading fees for equity in projects. Read more >>

2. Zaha Hadid Architects

For being dedicated to bold curves. Last fall, Hadid sent titters across the architecture world at the unveiling of her design for Qatar's World Cup Stadium, which, truth be told, bore more than a passing resemblance to female genitalia. In a world of phallic towers and angular designs, Hadid's trademark curvy flourishes stand out. Being unafraid to be daring has placed Hadid on the shortlist for everything from luxury superyachts to Miami skyscrapers to London's newest aquatics center.

3. Diller Scofidio + Renfro

For being unafraid to pick a fight. When the Museum of Modern Art asked DSR to head up its latest redesign, it put the firm in a tough spot. The museum wanted to expand straight through the American Folk Art Museum, a masterpiece by another set of acclaimed contemporary architects. Rather than keep the building but lose its essence trying to connect it to MoMA, DSR boldly recommended it be razed. They’re still catching flak for it among the architecture community, but we don’t think it will turn out too bad.

4. NBBJ

For rethinking where we do business. NBBJ is steering tech companies toward innovation by redesigning suburban corporate campuses for an urban future. Their projects for giants like Amazon, Samsung, and China's Tencent pack the amenities of a Googleplex into a downtown footprint.

5. NL Architects

For looking up. The Amsterdam-based architects refuse to let valuable rooftop space go unused, topping their designs with everything from traditional gardens and terraces to cycling tracks and out-of-this-world swimming pools.

6. AL_A

For hitting the ground running. Just after parting ways with her former husband and partner Jan Kaplický to found her own company in 2009, award-winning architect Amanda Levete beat out older and more established firms to design an extension to the world’s largest design museum. Since then, she’s landed international projects like a 1.5-million-square-foot commercial complex in Bangkok, due to open in May, and a shimmering waterfront cultural center in Lisbon.

7. GLUCK+

For taking control of the entire building process. With Architect Led Design Build, Peter Gluck and his team ensure quality and efficiency from idea to execution by seeing a building through the entire process of design and construction.

8. David Rockwell

For reinventing the theater for the TED era. The very first pop-up theater custom-designed for the unique experience of TED will be tailored to better connect an audience of 1200 to each speaker. Look for it at TED2014 in March.

9. Clive Wilkinson

For injecting fun into the open office. Wilkinson recently turned a rundown Southern California warehouse into a fire-engine-red open office playground for motorsports apparel company Fox Head Inc., complete with multiple dirt bike tracks just out the front door. Yeah, we’d let him have a go at our offices, too.

10. MVRDV

For making the most of the flashy facade. The firm uses glassy exteriors to give drab shops much-needed facelifts and to walk the line between cutting-edge design and aesthetic tradition.

[Image: Flickr user Dave Sizer]