In 1978, Viñoly and his family relocated to the United States. For a brief period he served as a guest lecturer at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, settling permanently in New York City in 1979. He founded the firm Rafael Viñoly Architects PC in 1983. His first major project in New York was the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, which was completed in 1988. In 1989, he won an international competition to design the Tokyo International Forum. Completed in 1996, many people consider this building to be the most important cultural complex in Japan.  His firm's design was one of the finalists in the World Trade Center design competition.