A fault line runs through the architectural profession separating academics from practitioners, thinkers from doers, those who imagine from those who build. Straddling this line, and connecting the realms on either side, are emerging architects who both teach and practice. It's a difficult balancing act to pull off, but it often spurs an exciting form of creativity shaped by tension and risk-taking. Many of the architects in this year's Design Vanguard epitomize this kind of back-and-forth career, combining academic research with the nuts and bolts of delivering real buildings to real clients. From Berkeley to Barcelona,  and Glasgow to Winnipeg, partners in many of this year's firms have established a fluid relationship between intellectual exploration and making projects happen. In doing so, they enrich both spheres of work. Firms shown here are bridging other types of divides,  too, crossing national boundaries, for example, and connecting eras by tapping the spirit  of traditional buildings in works of modern design. —Clifford A. Pearson
Carmody Groarke

Johnsen Schmaling Architects
An enterprising duo explores materials and context in a series of projects that make big statements on a small scale.

Pictured: Studio for a Composer;

Photo © John J. Macaulay


After winning a number of design competitions, a young firm develops a body of work that responds to its rugged but rich context.

Pictured: Cultural Center;

Photo © Pegenaute


Doepel Strijkers Architects
Duzan Doepel and Eline Strijkers transform sustainable into desirable with, among other projects, a garage-turned house and a green tequila distillery. Salud!

Pictured: Parksite;

Photo © Maarten Laupman

Plot 6 of Jishan

Atelier Deshaus
This busy firm embeds traditional principles of Chinese architecture in the DNA of its modern buildings.

Pictured: Plot 6 of Jishan; Base

Photo © Shu He

House 1+1=1

Iñaqui Carnicero Architecture
With rough, sensuous materials and simple geometries, a team charts
new courses while employing the basic principles of Modernism.

Pictured: House 1+1=1;

Photo courtesy Iñaqui Carnicero

SF 2108: Hydro-Net

A husband-wife team finds ways of merging the virtual with the actual, while creating compelling visions of an architecture for the future.

Pictured: SF 2108: Hydro-Net;

Image courtesy IwamotoScott

OMS Stage

5468796 Architecture
What's in a name? A Canadian firm connects its collective identity to its practice and projects.

Pictured: OMS Stage;

Image courtesy 5468796 Architecture


Leong Leong
Two architect brothers sought different mentors, then opened their own firm. With budgets big and small, they are designing through the recession.

Pictured: Turning Pink;

Photo courtesy Leong Leong

Koji Tsutsui and Associates

Koji Tsutsui & associates
A Japanese architect establishes a modest global practice and develops adaptable design concepts that play across national and economic boundaries.

Pictured: Earthquake housing;

Image courtesy Koji Tsutsui & Associates

Wexford County Council

NORD (Robin Lee/Alan Pert)
Taking its cues from the rugged contexts of Scotland and Ireland, a firm explored notions of form-making before its partners split earlier this year.

Pictured: Wexford County Council;

Photo © Andrew Lee