This was the third time we attended the event (after 2009 in Buenos Aires and 2010 in New York) and it was a special evening, not only because of the renowned architects attending the event, but also for the presenting speech by President Barack Obama. Obama, a friend of the Pritzker family, delivered a short but interesting speech to Souto de Moura and the architects. Obama’s interest in architecture goes way back as we’ve heard him state that he thought he could be an architect, but as he said at the speech “I expected to be more creative than I turned out, so I had to go into politics instead”.
It’s worth mentioning that Obama referred to the Pritzker Prize as the Nobel of architecture, a common comparison that puts the importance of this recognition in context.
After several mentions to architecture, his hometown Chicago, Mies (his campaign HQ was in a Mies building), Louis Sullivan, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Jefferson’s Monticello, he mentioned that architecture is about “creating buildings and spaces that inspire us, that help us do our jobs, that bring us together, and that become, at their best, works of art that we can move through and live in. And in the end, that’s why architecture can be considered the most democratic of art forms“.
About Souto de Moura’s work he mentioned that it was “effortless and beautiful”, and he highlighted the fact that the Braga Stadium was a democratic building, as he not only served the audience but people on the outside.
After Obama and Lord Palumbo (chairman of the Pritzker jury) Eduardo Souto de Moura accepted his recognition, and said something very interesting that made me understand contemporary Portuguese architecture. He developed his work during the 1974 revolution in Portugal, after which the country required to give housing to millions of people. At that time post modernism was starting strong in the country, but that wasn´t the way to do housing (with columns and arches), which led to a late modernism that we see on his works, which in my opinion became a legacy to the new generation of Portuguese architects. More photos after the break: