12 Pathbreaking North American Architecture Firms

Ranging in size and speciality, these A+Award-winning studios showcase the region’s cutting-edge leadership in architectural thought.

Nidhi Upadhyaya Nidhi Upadhyaya

With categories ranging from concepts to typology, Architizer’s A+Awards famously celebrate global design talent. The program is currently inviting submissions from innovative architecture and design studios from around the world. This year, on the program’s 10th anniversary, the Best Firm Awards will be brought into the fold for the first time.

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From firm size to specialization to geographic region, the A+Awards Firm Categories shine the spotlight on architectural studios that are defining the field in the 21st century.

North America has been a long been a dynamic producer of diverse design talent. Home to cutting-edge technology and some of the world’s best design education, the region has seen some pathbreaking innovations in architectural thought. These include playful urban nodes, eco-conscious buildings, climate-friendly landscape projects and crowd-stopping commercial interiors. As you prepare your portfolio for submission, gain inspiration from these A+Award-winning studios — all with headquarters in the United States or Canada.

MGA | Michael Green Architecture

Vancouver, Canada | Founded 2012

This award-winning firm thinks of buildings as good neighbors – beings that understand their impact on their immediate environment and the world beyond. A lot of their work focuses on climate change and Michael Green is well known for some of his awe-inspiring wooden projects. They also pay great attention to the long-term aspects of buildings such as energy performance, durability and maintenance. For these reasons and more, MGA was named Best of the Year – North America in Architizer’s 2021 A+Awards Firm Awards.

The Urban Conga

New York City, New York | Founded 2014

Oscillation by The Urban Conga, New York, New York 2021 

Introducing play in urban spaces is the main agenda of this multidisciplinary studio. The journey started with the creation of guerrilla-style interventions in under-utilized urban spaces by Ryan Swanson and two of his friends when in graduate school. After multiple such experiments – ranging from beach balls to interactive projections – in nine cities across the country, Swanson started the firm to promote equality, create a sense of community and incite curiosity. In Architizer’s 2021 A+Awards, The Urban Conga won accolades as the Best in Specialization – Small Projects.

Cherem Arquitectos

Mexico City, Mexico | Established 2003

Casa Candelaria by Cherem Arquitectos, Mexico | Popular Choice, 2020 A+Awards, Private House (XL > 5,000 sq ft)

Abraham Cherem and Jose Antonio Aguilar are the architects behind Cherem Arquitectos — an architectural design firm located in Mexico City. The studio champions the use of natural materials and light as both design tools and elements in their designs. This approach is exemplified by the much lauded design of Casa Candelaria, a residence that consists of twelve rammed earth volumes organized around a central courtyard. Their work stands out as for synthesizing unique and efficient solutions that go beyond simply serving the client, but also allow the firm to redevelop and reinvent itself with each design, especially with regards to materials and process.

MASS Design Group

Boston, Massachusetts | Established 2007

This not-for-profit organization is known for its humanitarian projects — it scooped an award for the 2021 Best Firm Awards in Humanitarian Architecture. Its name MASS – which stands for Model of Architecture Serving Society – perfectly encapsulates its ideology. Their services cover architecture, landscape design, furniture design, engineering, construction, film, and community engagement. Additionally, they use their One Health design strategy to create safe environments for humans and animals.


Omaha, Nebraska | Founded 1917

The Six Willows by HDR, Jinan, China 2021 A+Awards Popular Winner Commercial – Unbuilt Commercial

Queen’s University John Deutsch University Centre by HDR, Kingston, Canada Popular Choice, 2021 A+Awards, Unbuilt Institutional 

Originally formed as Henningson Engineering Company in 1917, the firm later changed to Henningson, Durham and Richardson, Inc. in the 1950s. This year, the practice bagged multiple A+Awards for their projects University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Models, The Six Willows and Queen’s University John Deutsch University Centre. The firm focuses on regenerative future as opposed to sustainable design by creating environments that give more than they take.

Henriquez Partners Architects

Vancouver, Canada | Founded 1969

Cardero by Henriquez Partners Architects, Vancouver, Canada |  Popular Choice, 2021 A+Awards, Multi Unit Housing High Rise (16+ Floors)

From churches to mixed-use complexes, this firm has a wide array of projects in its portfolio. The Canadian organization’s work comprises a lot of modern forms, finishes and aesthetics. Along with the winning project Cardero, GHETTO: Sanctuary for Sale also got a special mention in the 2021 A+Awards.

Filipao Nunes Arquitectos

San Pedro Garza García, Mexico | Established

This creative mutidisciplinary studio has made a name for themselves in Mexico’s architecture and interior design scene, and earned special mention in the 2021 A+Firm Awards. The studio specializes in projecting spaces that create sensory experiences, in particular in restaurant and hospitality spaces. Founded by Portuguese architect Filipe Nunes, who train in Portugal and worked in Spain before settling in Mexico, Filipao Nunes Arquitectos brings a rich array of materials and shapes to their designs, subtly making reference to cultural context related to the project.

Clayton Korte

Austin, Texas | Founded 1983

Hill Country Wine Cave by Clayton Korte, Texas Hill Country, Texas | Jury Winner, 2021 A+Awards, Bars & Wineries

Clayton Korte’s work is often a response to the local context. A lot of their projects use natural materials, tones and finishes. Several projects also incorporate plants either as part of décor or in the landscape around them.


Boston, Massachusetts &  Los Angeles, California | Founded 1972

Boston Dynamics by Bergmeyer, Waltham, MA, United States | Popular Choice, 2021 A+Awards, Architecture +Workspace

The studio’s work covers a variety of scales, from architecture projects to branding and graphic design. They are well known for their interior work in the hospitality and commercial sectors. Not one to shy away from vibrant hues or bold patterns, the firm has also created several stores and pop-up spaces where neons steal the show.

The Miller Hull Partnership

Seattle, Washington & San Diego, California | Founded 1977

Loom House by The Miller Hull Partnership, Bainbridge Island, Washington | Images by Kevin Scott | Jury Winner, 2021 A+Awards, Private House (M 2,000-4,000 sq ft)

The joint venture between David Miller and Robert Hull aims to create environmentally responsible buildings. Their work is timeless and modern at the same time. The local environment plays a key role in planning and every project creates a large impact with high functionality.

Teeple Architects Inc.

Toronto, Canada | Founded 1989

Morgan State University Calvin & Tina Tyler Hall by Teeple Architects Inc., Baltimore, Maryland | Popular Choice, 2021 A+Awards, Institutional – Higher Education & Research Facilities

Teeple Architects’ body of work comprises a lot of unconventional geometric forms, mixed material and shades of grey. Founded by Stephen Teeple, the firm specializes in institutional, commercial and residential projects. Their designs also play with transparency and translucency in spaces by using different materials and finishes at different scales.


Miami, Florida | Established 2015

University of Miami Lakeside Village by ArquitectonicaGEO, Coral Gables, Florida | Popular Choice, 2021 A+Awards, Landscape & Planning – Urban & Masterplans

The landscape design firm is led by Laurinda H. Spear and Margarita Blanco who focus on utilizing landscape architecture to contribute to the issues of climate change and rising sea levels. Their designs not only react to the site but are also designed to adapt to future environmental changes.


The latest edition of “Architizer: The World’s Best Architecture” — a stunning, hardbound book celebrating the most inspiring contemporary architecture from around the globe — is now available. Order your copy today.  

Nidhi Upadhyaya Author: Nidhi Upadhyaya
Nidhi Upadhyaya is an architect and journalist from Mumbai, India. When not working, she can be found binging on DIY videos, experimenting with art mediums or making a dent in her large to-read list. She has previously worked as Features Writer for Elle Decor India, Assistant Editor for India Inc, Art Director for the print edition of Bombay Binge and is currently the Editorial Assistant at TED-Ed in New York.
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