Fathers of datavisualization: Richard Saul Wurman

Richard Saul Wurman is an American architect and graphic designer from Philadelphia. Born in 1933, he is one of the leaders in making information easy to understand. In addition to publishing over 80 books, Wurman has also coined the term “Information Architecture” and created the Technology, Entertainment, Design (TED) conference.

Wurman attended the University of Pennsylvania, graduating in 1959 with his bachelors and masters in Architecture. In 1976, he is attributed with creating the term “Information Architecture.” Information architecture is the organization of websites and other internet related things to make them easier to use. This concept arose from the large amount of information that was being produced with little organization. Wurman explained his creation of information architecture by stating, "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."

In addition to pioneering information architecture, Wurman also started the annual TED conference. This brings together people from all different fields of work to discuss and suggest “ideas worth spreading.” Past presenters include President Bill Clinton, primatologist Jane Goodall, and another Father of Datavisualizaation, Hans Rosling.

Wurman has received extensive recognition for his work. He became an American Institute of Architects fellow in 1976, entered the Art Directors Club in 2003, and won a gold medal from the American Institute of Graphic Arts. Additionally, he was the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt's National Design Awards this year.  Wurman currently lives with his wife, Gloria Nagy, in Newport, Rhode Island.