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Faces to Watch in 2010: Architecture*

December 24, 2009 |  1:00 pm

Heatherwich Thomas Heatherwick, designer

The London designer has seen his profile rise dramatically in recent years. Another big boost will come in May, when his spiky British Pavilion opens at Expo 2010 in Shanghai. The massive international exhibition is expected to draw more than 70 million visitors; Heatherwick’s pavilion is among its most anticipated architectural elements.

Ray Ray LaHood, U.S. Secretary of Transportation

If any hopes remain for the Obama administration to turn around its so-far underwhelming record on cities and transit, they lie mostly in the hands of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. LaHood has been working to raise his public visibility lately: He operates a pretty active Twitter feed, and he even showed up on “The Daily Show” this month to chat with Jon Stewart. A bigger test is how successful he’ll prove to be in the coming year in  helping direct billions of dollars in federal funding for high-speed rail and other pivotal projects.

Rojkind Michel Rojkind, architect

The coming year promises to be a tough one for all architects, but especially for emerging firms still fighting for their breakthrough commissions. The talented 40-year-old architect Michel Rojkind, founder of the Mexico City firm Rojkind Arquitectos, will offer thoughts on getting architecture built in a time of shrinking credit and faltering confidence when he visits Los Angeles for a lecture at the Southern California Institute of Architecture on Feb. 10.

Sejima Kazuo Sejima, architect
Can she revive Venice's Architecture Biennale? After stumbling badly in 2008 under the direction of Aaron Betsky, the high-profile exhibition will hand the reins in 2010 to the Tokyo architect, best known for being half of the busy, celebrated Tokyo-based firm SANAA. It’s the first time since 2000 that the Biennale’s top post has gone to a practicing architect -- and the first time ever that it’s gone to a woman.

-- Christopher Hawthorne

*Updated: The headline on earlier version of this identified Thomas Heatherwick as an architect. He is a designer.

Photo credits, from top: David Franco; Haraz N. Ghanbari / Associated Press; Uli Heckmann; Michel Spingler / Associated Press