Named as the Praemium Imperiale 2011 Award recipient for architecture, Ricardo Legorreta, was recognized at a formal ceremony in Tokyo last month along with fellow award winners Bill Viola (Painting), Anish Kapoor (Sculpture), Seiji Ozawa (Music), and Judi Dench (Theatre/Film). The Imperial Highness Prince Hitachi, honorary patron of the Japan Art Association, presented the specially-designed gold medals and diplomas to the esteemed class of Laureates. Carrying prizes of approximately $195,000 each, the awards recognize lifetime achievement in the arts in categories not covered by the Nobel Prizes.
Architect Ricardo Legorreta is the first Mexican artist to receive the Praemium Imperiale, Ricardo Legorreta was born in 1931 and educated in Mexico City. Arguably Mexico’s most significant living architect, he combines the traditions of Western modernism with the building culture of his native country, vibrantly colored geometric shapes, fountains, light-filled spaces and intimate courtyards are the hallmarks of Legorreta’s style. In a career spanning more than 50 years he has created a diverse portfolio of more than 100 projects in Mexico and abroad including the Montalban House in Los Angeles (1985), the Museum of Contemporary Art in Monterrey (1991), the Metropolitan Cathedral of Managua (1993), Pershing Square in Los Angeles (1993), Carnegie Mellon College of Business & Computer Science in Qatar (2008) and Davidka Square in Jerusalem (2010). In 2000, he became the first Latin American to receive the prestigious American Institute of Architects’ (AIA) Gold Medal. After a partnership with José Villagrán, he set up his own practice and now works with his youngest son, Victor.
Candidates for the Praemium Imperiale awards are nominated by a distinguished panel of International Advisors and selected by the Japan Art Association. The American Advisor is William H. Luers, who currently serves as an Adjunct Professor at Columbia University and Seton Hall University. He was formerly the President of the United Nations Association. He also previously served for 14 years as President of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, following a 31-year career as an American ambassador and diplomat. This is Mr. Luers’ tenth year on the panel since succeeding David Rockefeller, Jr., who now serves as an Honorary Advisor.
“Over the past 23 years the Praemium Imperiale awards have grown to become a powerful symbol of the importance of the arts in the global community,” said Mr. Luers. “We are honored to recognize this year’s distinguished group of Laureates for their outstanding achievements and life-long pursuit of excellence.”