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By Fred A. Bernstein
IN the video, on YouTube, Madonna is seen laying the first brick at a school in Lilongwe, Malawi. But to connoisseurs of architecture, the real star of the video is the man standing next to Madonna, alongside a rendering of the 40-acre campus. He is Markus Dochantschi, the German-born, New York-based designer of what is called the Raising Malawi Academy for Girls.
For a young architect it’s hard to imagine a higher-profile project than a school backed by Madonna. And if the attention mostly goes to the pop star, Mr. Dochantschi isn’t complaining. He spent seven years working for the architect Zaha Hadid, a larger-than-life figure, learning how to stand outside the spotlight.
Mr. Dochantschi, who is 42, left Ms. Hadid’s practice in 2002, making him one of a small group of foreign-born architects who have broken away from Pritzker Prize-winning mentors to work on their own in the United States. The ranks include Kulapat Yantrasast, 41, who was born in Thailand, worked for seven years for the Japanese master Tadao Ando and then moved to Los Angeles in 2003. He has already designed one American museum from the ground up and has several other museum buildings in the works.Keep reading...