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Richard Saul Wurman

Born March 26, 1935 (1935-03-26)
Philadelphia, Penn.
Nationality American
Fields Architecture, information architecture, design
Institutions 19.20.21; TEDMED

Richard Saul Wurman (March 26, 1935) is an architect and graphic designer. He is considered a pioneer in the practice of making information understandable. He was born and grew up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, moved to Los Angeles in 1978, then to Newport, Rhode Island in 1993. He is married to Gloria Nagy, an author, and has four children, including Joshua Wurman a noted atmospheric scientist. Wurman has written and designed over 80 books, and created the TED conferences (of which he remains associated only with TEDMED).



In 1959, Wurman earned his Master of Architecture degree with highest honors from the University of Pennsylvania. He was awarded a Doctorate of Fine Arts by the University of Arts in Philadelphia and an Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts from the Art Institute of Boston.[citation needed]


In 1976, he coined the phrase "information architect" out of his reaction to a society that daily creates massive amounts of information, but 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."[1]

Wurman created the popular ACCESS travel guide books, which were innovative in their use of mapping content by neighborhood. Simple but effective use of colored text allowed readers to separate, locate and evaluate restaurants, museums, parks, and other categorical destinations quickly. With this series of books, Wurman firmly established the purpose of information architecture.

Wurman has been awarded several grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, a Guggenheim Fellowship, two Graham fellowships, and two Chandler fellowships. He was awarded AIA Fellow in 1976 and the ADC Hall of Fame in 2003. He was a 2004 Medalist of the AIGA, which honored him as a design conference impresario.[2] He is a Senior Fellow of the Design Futures Council.[3]

His current project is 19.20.21. an attempt to create and standardize measurement tools as a means of understanding cities.


  • Access Travel Guides
  • Information Anxiety (1989)
  • Follow the Yellow Brick Road - Learning to Give, Take, & Use Instructions (1992)
  • Information Architects (1997)
  • Information Anxiety2 (2000)
  • Understanding USA
  • USAtlas
  • N: The Newport Guide
  • 33: Understanding Change & the Change in Understanding (2009)


  1. ^ InfoDesign: Understanding by Design | Special on R.S. Wurman
  2. ^ Richard Saul Wurman, 2004 AIGA Medalist.
  3. ^ Design Futures Council Senior Fellows

External links



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