The starchitects that never were...

Sprinkling a little bit of Hollywood stardust on the profession of architecture, read on to discover which famous names had grand designs of becoming architects prior to entering the limelight – including some that might surprise you




One of the more unexpected names on the list is 1990s American hip-hop artist Ice Cube. Born O’Shea Jackson in 1969, Ice Cube has tried his hand at creating and producing music, acting, screenwriting and producing and directing films. Before finding fame with hip-hop group CIA, he attended the Phoenix Institute of Technology in 1987 studying architectural drafting and received a Certificate in Draughtsmanship the following year.

Courtney Cox © Alan Light

Courtney Cox is best known for her role as Monica Geller in sitcom Friends, along with being Bruce Springsteen’s dance partner in the 1984 video for 'Dancing in the Dark'. Before being selected to appear on stage with The Boss, Cox studied architecture and interior design at Mount Vernon College in Washington, DC. She failed to complete her course after dropping out to pursue a modelling career in New York after being signed by the prestigious Ford Modelling Agency.

Another celebrity with an architectural background is Roger Waters of Pink Floyd, who released the 23-times platinum album The Wall in 1979. ‘My career choice was made by the National Institute of Industrial Psychology where I took a whole bunch of aptitude tests - so I was completely passive about that as well. They told me I would do well at architecture, which didn't sound as dull as mechanical engineering. So I said OK. Then I had to learn to draw, because they wanted a portfolio of drawings for your interview.’ Waters met future Pink Floyd bandmates, Nick Mason and Richard Wright while studying architecture at the Regent Street Polytechnic.

Further back in time novelist and poet Thomas Hardy actually won prizes from the Royal Institute of British Architects and the Architectural Association. Hardy's family lacked the means for a university education and his formal education ended at the age of 16. He then became an apprentice to local architect James Hicks, before moving to London in 1862 where he enrolled as a student at King's College. He was put in charge of the excavation of the graveyard of St Pancras Old Church prior to its destruction when the Midland Railway was extended to St Pancras.

Aishwarya Rai © Lifi Crystal

Indian film actress and model Aishwarya Rai initially wanted to become an architect before finding fame and fortune. She was studying at the Rachna College of Arts and Commerce in Mumbai when she found herself in South Africa for the Miss World pageant in 1994, eventually winning the contest and taking home the crown to the detriment of her potential career in architecture.

'Weird Al' Yankovic is someone who might not immediately spring to mind as someone with an architectural background, but he holds a degree in the subject from the California Polytechnic State University. Now famous for his humorous songs and parodies, Yankovic was considered to be a bit of a geek at school: ‘My classmates seemed to think I was some kind of rocket scientist so I was labelled a nerd early on'. Despite not making use of his degree, Yankovic has certainly engineered a niche career for himself.

Other notable people with an architectural education include singer-songwriter Seal, Art Garfunkel of Simon and Garfunkel, former American president Thomas Jefferson and fashion designer Tom Ford.