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Richard Saul Wurman

Photo of Richard Saul Wurman

Richard Saul Wurman has written, designed and published 90 books on wildly divergent topics. Two of these are the notebooks and drawings of architect Louis I. Kahn (1963) and What Will Be Has Always Been (1986), a seminal collection of Kahn’s words. Wurman chaired the IDCA Conference in 1972, the First Federal Design assembly in 1973, and the annual AIA Conference in 1976.

Wurman received both his M. Arch. & B. Arch. degrees from the University of Pennsylvania, from where he graduated in 1959 with the highest honors, and was awarded the Arthur Spayed Brooks Gold Medal. He has been awarded several honorary doctorates, Graham Fellowships, a Guggenheim and numerous grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as being the Distinguished Professor of the Practice at Northeastern University. He is the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Smithsonian, Cooper-Hewitt Museum. Wurman has also been awarded the Annual Gold Medal in Discourse from Trinity College, Dublin, a Gold Medal from AIGA and Boston Science Museum’s 50th Annual Bradford Washburn Award. He is also a Fellow of the AIA and in the Art Director’s Club Hall of Fame. Most recently he was awarded the Ladislav Sutnar prize for his outstanding performance in the field of fine arts, as well as accepting an invitation to contribute to Genius: 100 Visions of the Future, a project sponsored by the Einstein Legacy Project, which features essays submitted by the 100 greatest innovators, artists, scientists and visionaries of our time.

Wurman created and chaired the TED conference from 1984 thru 2002, the TEDMED conference from 1995 to 2010, as well as the e.g. and WWW conference. His current projects include Urban Observatory and his newest book, UnderstandingUnderstanding- a journey through the myriad ways that he and his many muses have created their own idiosyncratic manners of understanding. For more information on UnderstandingUnderstanding, please go to

Wurman lives in Golden Beach, FL with his wife, novelist Gloria Nagy, and their two yellow labs, Isaac and Jacob.


B. Arch / M. Arch 1959 University of Pennsylvania, FAIA 1976 / Arthur Spayd Brooke Gold Medal / (3) Theophilus Parson Chandler Fellowships / (2) Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts / Guggenheim Fellowship / Thornton Oakley Medal 1954 / (3) University of Pennsylvania Award in Watercolors / AIA General Excellence in Architecture Medal 1958 / Mapped Southwestern Quadrant Plane Table Survey Tikal in 1958/59 for University of Pennsylvania Archaeological Museum published by USGS / Annual Gold Medal in Discourse Trinity College Dublin / Gold Medal AIGA / Lifetime Achievement Smithsonian Cooper Hewitt National Design Awards / James Joyce Award Literary and Historical Society University College Dublin / 50th Annual Bradford Washburn Award Boston Museum of Science / Chrysler Award / Art Directors Hall of Fame / Ladislav Sutnar Prize /  L.H.D. Doctor of Humane Letters Babson College / Retrospective Exhibition AXIS Design Gallery Tokyo / Kevin Lynch Award MIT / Initial Member of G100 Group