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With a net worth of $1.73 billion, which is over six times the wealth of Norman Foster, Miguel McKelvey might be the world’s wealthiest trained architect. He received his bachelor’s of architecture from the University of Oregon in 1999, and moved to New York in 2004 to take a job at Jordan Parnass Digital Architecture. A few years later, he founded a company called Green Desk which provided rental office space in Brooklyn. This company was the foundation for what later became his life’s work—a company called WeWork.

Wework is currently the largest coworking company in the world with a valuation of $20 billion. The company has spaces in 18 countries and most major cities in the world, including New York City, Austin, Los Angeles, Mumbai, Buenos Aires, Tel Aviv and Tokyo.

WeWork’s competitive advantage has always been their devotion to architecture and interior design. With McKelvey as the Chief Creative Officer, WeWork promotes a creative work environment through expressive, comfortable and artistic workspaces. There are open floor plans with open kitchens where workers at various companies can meet, network, and share ideas. WeWork is not only impacting the future of work, it’s impacting the way we live.

The company has led the field in designing inspiring coworking spaces but there are many other innovators, including: Sinergics in Barcelona, Guateque in Mexico City (by the architecture firm, Estudio Temporal), and Palmspace in London.

Miguel McKelvey and other coworking design pioneers can serve as an inspiration to architecture students today, showing that thoughtful design can change the world, but also provide a sizeable living for yourself. Sometimes it just takes a little forward thinking in tandem with design principles to make it happen.

By: David Plick