Search books on Amazon.com for "architect" and you will discover that the most powerful architect in America is White House deputy chief of staff Karl Rove. The Architect: Karl Rove and the Dream of Absolute Power, by James Moore and Wayne Slater, comes up as the No. 2 search result (after Lee W. Waldrep's career guide, Becoming an Architect).
Add to that Henry Kissinger's famous description of power namely, that it's the ultimate aphrodisiac and you might conclude that not only does a bald, bespectacled 56-year-old political operative rule our profession, but he's most likely to attract the nubile White House interns (oops wrong party, different administration...).
As we planned this special issue, the task of identifying the real architects of power proved difficult. We remembered that Philip Johnson whom many would consider the reigning power broker of 20th century architecture nevertheless admitted in 1983, "I am a whore and I am paid very well for building high-rise buildings." Johnson meant to shock, of course, but he was right: His clients had far more power than he ever would, a situation that's changed little since Vitruvius tried to impress the emperor Augustus with a book.
We surveyed lists of the typical superlatives biggest, best, most (and combinations thereof). We realized that these terms are relative, so that drawing meaningful insights from this wealth of information is a less-than-scientific enterprise. We consulted multiple sources: industry research powerhouses like the Greenway Group and ZweigWhite; professional organizations including the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat. We also created our own rankings using Internet resources such as LexisNexis and Google. Methodology and results varied widely, depending on the source, but we could draw some general observations.