When we planned the first Design Vanguard issue in 2000, we wanted to provide a launching pad for the next generation of architects shaking up the design world. We picked 10 firms that seemed to be looking at architecture from fresh perspectives — incorporating digital technologies, exploring the nature of materials, and rethinking the way fabrication and construction engage design. Today, many of those architects have made significant contributions to the profession. The publication this month of our 10th Vanguard issue offers us a chance to look back for a moment and appreciate the changing landscape of architecture. Back in 2000, seven of the Vanguard firms called the United States home, though a few of the individual architects had been born elsewhere. This year, only three firms are based in the U.S., though a number of partners in foreign studios studied here. This changing geographic mix does not reflect any diminished talent pool in America; rather, it shows a rising tide of innovation and construction in other places. Right now, the large volume of building in Asia alone offers architects there myriad opportunities to explore their ideas and hone their craft, so it’s not surprising that we include two firms from China and one from Japan this year. Spain too (and Latin America in previous years) has seen an explosion of talent pushing the boundaries of architectural knowledge.
We never set an age limit for Vanguard architects, because we know that talent rarely can be exercised right out of school. Instead, we use a very rough rule of thumb, looking for firms in operation for 10 years or less. We want this program to showcase emerging architects who have at least some building under their belts but are still approaching design from new directions. These people aren’t kids; they’re rising stars, provocateurs, and trailblazers. This year’s class features some architects who have built quite a lot and a few who are working on large projects with sizable staffs — signs of business savvy, showmanship, and a recent period of enormous economic growth. With the boom over in many parts of the world, we’re interested in seeing how future Vanguard firms adjust and turn the new reality to their advantage. 
Songzhuang Artist Residences, Beijing

DnA_Design and Architecture
DnA founder Xu Tiantian puts down roots in her native China

Photo © Iwan Baan

Picured: Songzhuang Artist Residences, Beijing

The Mountain, Ørestad, Copenhagen

BIG | Bjarke Ingels Group
A young Danish architectural firm is living up to its acronym with bold projects at home and abroad.

Photo © Dragor Luftfoto

Pictured: The Mountain, Ørestad, Copenhagen

House on Lake Okoboji, West Lake Okoboji, Iowa

Min | Day
A firm finds fertile ground for innovation in the Midwest, as well as on the left coast

Photo © Paul Crosby

Pictured: House on Lake Okoboji, West Lake Okoboji, Iowa

Plus, Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan

Mount Fuji Architects Studio
A respect for the purity of craft, fused with a deft material hand, help create buildings that seem effortless yet substantial

Photo © Ken'ichi Suzuki

Pictured: Plus, Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan

Kalmar Museum of Art, Kalmar, Sweden

Tham & Videg'rd Arkitekter
A pair of Swedes shake up the architecture establishment with simple design

Photo © Åke E:son Lindman

Pictured: Kalmar Museum of Art, Kalmar, Sweden

The Black Box (88 Yuqing Road), Shangai

Neri & Hu Design and Research Office
This husband-and-wife-led firm is crossing boundaries between disciplines and cultures

Photo © Neri & Hu

Pictured: The Black Box (88 Yuqing Road), Shanghai

Pull House, Great Barrington, Massachusetts

Taylor and Miller Architecture and Design
A Northeast firm finds opportunity in constraint and order in chaos

Photo © Gregory  Cehrin Photography

Pictured: Pull House, Great Barrington, Massachusetts

Kuehn Malvezzi

A young firm tightly weaves an urban fabric in ever-sprawling Phoenix ' next stop, the world

Photo © Bill Timmerman

Pictured: After Hours Building, Phoenix, Arizona

Smiljan Radic

Office Kersten Geers David Van Severen
A Belgian firm asks old questions in new ways

Photo © Bas Princen

Pictured: Notary’s Office Entrance and Reception, Antwerp, Belgium

Center for the Technical Development of Physical, Sports, and Recreational Activities, Guijo de Granadilla, Cáceres, Spain

José María Sánchez García
A spirited, multidisciplinary approach helps this architect engage both historic and natural environments

Photo courtesy José María Sánchez García-Estudio de Arquitectura

Pictured: Center for the Technical Development of Physical, Sports, and Recreational Activities, Guijo de Granadilla, C'ceres, Spain