By Producer Matt Percival
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(CNN) -- This month on Quest... the architects! In the words of the great architect Sir Christopher Wren, "architecture aims at eternity". With this in mind, host Richard Quest tracks down some of the gifted designers who shape our world and visualize the future. It's a Quest to Build!
For the architectural layman seeking inspiration, the eternal city of Rome is a pretty good place to start. It is also a treacherous landscape for the modern architect, where anything new must blend in seamlessly with the old.
With this in mind Iraqi-born British-based architect Zaha Hadid is building Italy's first national museum of contemporary art -- due to be completed at the end of 2008, Rome has never seen anything like it, either in scale or design.
On the site of what promises to be her most prized creation, Hadid reflects on her building philosophy, her reputation for pushing boundaries and what it is to be most famous female architect in the world.
It takes a minimum of seven years hard graft to be called an 'architect' -- it's not an occupation for the faint-hearted or those looking for instant success.
On a visit to London's prestigious Bartlett School, Quest takes a crash course in design, lends his ideas to a class project and tries to understand why it takes architects so long to get their hands on a real building.
New York is a paragon of architectural ambition. Here, Quest gets an insider's guide to probably the most famous skyscraper in the world -- the Empire State Building.
From the ventilation shafts underground to a bird's eye view from the antennae, it's the bits the public never see. Following its completion in 1931, it stood as the world's tallest building for more than 40 years -- it set the tone of the future and remains the most iconic symbol of Manhattan Island.
New York is also the playground of Ian Schrager, the entrepreneur and hotelier credited with the concept of the "boutique hotel".
At his recently completed Gramercy Park Hotel, Schrager talks about his own quest to build which has revolutionized the hospitality industry over the past four decades.
Before leaving town, we also meet Richard Meier, famous for his awe-inspiring creation of the Getty Center in Los Angeles. He sheds light on his exclusive use of the 'color' white -- a purist trademark that makes him one of the world's most distinctive architects.
As the journey continues... two more celebrity architects. In Basel, Switzerland, we visit Herzog and de Meuron, the world-renowned double act overseeing the new Beijing National Stadium.
Also known as the 'bird's nest', it will be the focal point of the 2008 Summer Olympics in China. So how do two architects work as one and what's it like building for the Chinese government.
Next stop, Valencia, the home town of Spanish sculptor, painter and architect Santiago Calatrava.
Known for the elegance of his designs, Calatrava discusses the relationship between art and architecture and man's desire to build increasingly higher -- he has recently conceived the proposed Chicago Spire, soon to be the tallest residential building in the world.
Destined never to be one of the gods of architecture, it is highly unlikely that Quest will ever see his building grace the skyline. So, having been baffled by the theory and philosophy behind museums, stadiums and skyscrapers, he opts for a practical approach to end this month's investigation.
In Romania's Transylvania he's about to get his hands dirty and experience for himself, the pride and joy of actually building something. As a volunteer for the architects of the charity Habitat for Humanity, he will help put up simple houses for those who desperately need shelter.
A far cry from the world of the celebrity architect, but satisfying nonetheless...
Richard meets Getty Center architect Richard Meier.