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10 Innovative Architects to Watch

James Ramsey

James Ramsey has a slightly different background than many young architects. Yes, he has a degree in architecture (from Yale). He went to Europe to study design (in his case, cathedrals). But then he spent time working at NASA as a satellite engineer, as part of the team responsible for designing satellites like the Cassini. Ramsey went back to architectural design and taught before founding his own firm, Ramsey Architecture and Design (RAAD), in 2004.

Most of Ramsey's designs are homes. There's the Shore House, situated on the water and looking like it belongs there as much as the boardwalks and docks in the area, with its weathered wooden piles and boxy, open structure. He's also designed several lofts and apartments in older buildings, in areas like Soho and Chelsea. These contrast exposed brick with sleek modernist touches and white space. But it was Ramsey's unusual "LowLine" project that garnered him lots of attention. There's a very popular elevated park on the West Side of Manhattan called the High Line that was once an abandoned railroad trestle. Ramsey and partner Dan Barasch have proposed a similar park in an underground former trolley terminal, using skylights and fiber optics to channel enough natural light to grow plants. Known officially as the Delancey Underground, it's still in the planning stages as of this writing.