Credit: Peter Rad

Ross Wimer
Age: 44
Design Partner
Skidmore, Owings & Merrill

Travel is a fact of life for a partner at SOM, and Ross Wimer acknowledges that it prevents him from feeling part of a community beyond his laptop. Nonetheless, size has its advantages. The firm's incredible infrastructure and technology resources liberated Wimer to discover his potential as an architect.

In defining success, Wimer references T.S. Eliot, who maintained that when you create a work of art, it occupies a place on a continuum with other great works of art. Eliot's theory sets a standard for Wimer, distinguishing status quo architecture from architecture that contributes. He explains that the greatest joy in being an architect is the moral obligation that goes into the work. “What we do affects a lot of people—the people who use it, who drive by it, or live in the shadows of it,” Wimer says. “We don't have to look far to make a difference; we do it every day.”

Credit: Peter Rad

Daniel S. Friedman
Age: 55
College of Architecture and Urban Planning
University of Washington
Tacoma, Wash.

Having dedicated most of his professional career to architectural education, Daniel Friedman sees himself fitting into an intellectual tradition of architecture as an instrument for social change. He entered architecture school in the 1970s after working as a social-service provider and witnessing firsthand the damaging results of insensitive architecture.

According to Friedman, the student of today is totally emancipated from 20th century models of education. Thanks to unprecedented information access and powerful new tools for visual representation, students are capable of thinking more critically about design. “We need to move away from a generalized view of education and provide a more flexible, transdisciplinary curriculum that cultivates the love of risk, a fearlessness that comes from a precise, complete knowledge base,” he says. The time is ripe, Friedman believes, to change how architecture education is positioned: teach a theory of knowledge rather than a compositional skill.