10 Influential Green Architects

Ken Yeang

Architect Ken Yeang may hail from tiny Malaysia, but his achievements in green architecture loom large. Yeang first went green in the 1970s, penning a doctoral dissertation on ecological design and planning. From there, he went on to his much-lauded career, which includes creating the "bioclimatic skyscraper," a type of high-rise now used in various cities that performs as a passive low-energy building by being designed according to its particular location and the local climate. In other words, everything from the skyscraper's shape to its orientation to how vegetation is used will all affect how sustainable it is, by working with the surrounding environment, rather than competing with it. Yeang also coined the phrase "eco-mimicry" to describe the process of designing buildings to imitate the properties of nature. If you don't imitate nature, Yeang says, you're going against it [source: Koh].

Yeang also believes sustainable buildings should be pleasing to look at, because if they're ugly, they'll be rejected by the public. He has written several books on ecological design and planning. One of Yeang's more prominent projects is the 2005 Singapore National Library, which was awarded the highest rating (Platinum) under Singapore's Green Mark system, equivalent to the U.S.'s LEED [source: Hart].