Richard Saul Wurman

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Richard Saul Wurman
Richard Saul Wurman2.jpg
Born (1935-03-26) March 26, 1935 (age 80)
Philadelphia, Penn.
Nationality American
Fields Architecture, information architecture, design
Institutions 19.20.21; TEDMED; WWW Conference; 555 Conference

Richard Saul Wurman (March 26, 1935) is an American architect and graphic designer. Wurman has written and designed over 83 books, and cofounded the TED (Technology, Entertainment, and Design) conference,[1] as well as the EG conference, TEDMED and the WWW suite of gatherings, in development as of July 2014.


Wurman chaired the IDCA Conference in 1972, the First Federal Design assembly in 1973, and the annual AIA Conference in 1976. He is perhaps best known for having cofounded and chaired the TED conference from 1984 thru 2002, bringing together various thinkers in the fields of Technology, Entertainment and Design. He also created the TEDMED conference (1995-2010) and the e.g. conference in 2006.

In 1976, Wurman coined the phrase "information architect" in response to the large amount of information generated in contemporary society, which is often presented with little care or order. Wurman said, "I thought the explosion of data needed an architecture, needed a series of systems, needed systemic design, a series of performance criteria to measure it."[2]

In 1978, he served as the Dean for the Cal Poly Pomona College of Environmental Design.[3]

In 1984, he created the TED conference, and spoke about it at the 30th anniversary TED conference.[1]

Wurman created the Access series of travel guidebooks,[when?] which incorporated idiosyncratic efforts to dissect mapping content and present it in fragmentary form, arranged by neighborhood (along with other, more arbitrary, "systemic" criteria). The Access series was especially distinguished by its use of colored text and other intrusive graphic devices to reflect editorial judgments regarding restaurants, museums, parks, and other categorical destinations, and generally to interpret the urban fabric for visitors presumably unable to do so for themselves.

Wurman was made an AIA Fellow in 1976 and entered the Art Directors Club Hall of Fame in 2003. He was a 2004 Gold Medalist of the AIGA – formerly the American Institute of Graphic Arts – which honored him as a design conference impresario.[4] He is a Senior Fellow of the Design Futures Council.[5] A current project known as 19.20.21. is an attempt to create and standardize measurement tools as a means of understanding cities.[6]

As of July 2014, Wurman continues to organize conferences, including the WWW Conference, “Intellectual Jazz”, which consists of improvised conversations between pairs of some of the world’s greatest minds, and the 555 Conference, consisting of five exceptional global experts (total 25), five predictions of future patterns, held in five cities circumnavigating the world on five consecutive Mondays.

As of July 2014, he continues to work with ESRI and on his Urban Observatory project (19.20.21),[6] his comparative cartographic initiative for mapping urban settings.

Education and awards[edit]

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, two Graham Fellowships, a Guggenheim and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and is a member of FAIA. He has also been awarded the Annual Gold Medal from Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland and the James Joyce Award given by the Literary and Historical Society of University College, Dublin. He has also been honored with the Gold Medal from AIGA, the Art Directors Hall of Fame and the Chrysler Award for Innovation and Design.

Wurman was named the 2012 Lifetime Achievement Award recipient by the Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt museum's National Design Awards.

On the 18th of May, 2014, Wurman was given an honorary doctorate of Humane Letters, honoris causa, by Salve Regina University in Rhode Island, where he gave the address to the graduating class.

Personal life[edit]

Wurman lives in Newport, Rhode Island with his wife, novelist Gloria Nagy, and their three pet dogs. They have four children, including Joshua Wurman, a noted atmospheric scientist, and six grandchildren. [7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "The 30th birthday of TED: Richard Saul Wurman at TED2014". 2014-03-17. Retrieved 2014-07-20. 
  2. ^ "Understanding by Design", Special on R.S. Wurman, InfoDesign, 2003-12-31, retrieved 2012-02-04 
  3. ^ Stipp, David (June 23, 1997), "Richard Saul Wurman, the King of Access Q: what do ‘Bill’ Gates, Daniel Boorstin, Marvin Minsky, Horace Deets, Herbie Hancock, Nicholas Negroponte, Edward de Bono and a slew of other elite doers & thinkers have in common? They’re all friends of Ted", Money, CNN, retrieved 2012-02-04 
  4. ^ "Richard Saul Wurman", Medalist, AIGA, 2004 
  5. ^ "Senior Fellows", Council, Design Futures 
  6. ^ a b "19.20.21". Retrieved 2014-07-20. ...
    19 cities with
    20 million people in the
    21st century
  7. ^

External links[edit]