German architect and structural engineer Frei Otto (31 May 1925 – 9 March 2015) was well known for his pioneering innovations in lightweight and tensile structures. Shortly before his death in 2015 he was awarded the Pritzker Prize and prior to that he was awarded the RIBA Royal Gold Medal in 2006. Much of his research in lightweight structures is as relevant today as when he first proposed them over 60 years ago, and his work continues to inform architects and engineers to this day.
A recent article from The New York Times confirms something we've all long-suspected. A Pritzker translates into big bucks. Demand for Shigeru Ban's Manhattan buildings has soared since his awarding of the prize. The New York Times reports that page views of the Metal Shutter Houses, for example, have quadrupled on the listings site Streeteasy.com. Why? The Pritzker name carries weight:
Pritzker Prize winning architect Jørn Utzon, who died in 2008 aged 90, was the relatively unknown Dane who, on the 29th January 1957, was announced as the winner of the ‘International competition for a national opera house at Bennelong Point, Sydney’. When speaking about this iconic building, Louis Kahn stated that:
The sun did not know how beautiful its light was, until it was reflected off this building.
Unfortunately, Utzon never saw the Sydney Opera House, his most popular work, completed. Learn of his fascinating story, after the break.
Last week, while the ArchDaily team was in Mexico City for the Mextrópoli Conference, we caught up with Pritzker Jury member Juhani Pallasmaa and asked him to shed some light onto the recent winners of one of architecture's highest honors. Watch Pallasmaa, a renowned Finnish architect and professor, explain what motivates his approach for recognizing architects in a world with "so much publicity."
"The Pritzker jury has now, for at least 5 years, tried to select architects who are not the most obvious names because there is so much publicity in the architectural world and we'd rather try to find architects who have not been published everywhere else..."
The coveted title “Pritzker Prize Laureate” is more or less synonymous today with the label “star-architect,” a term I loathe and that most of those described as such will probably find irritating and embarrassing. And for good reason. Stardom in the sense of celebrity does not help the cause of architecture. Wang Shu’s wife, Lu Wenyu, said as much when she asked not to be named as co-laureate with her husband. In an interview with El Pais, she remarked, “I’m happy to be able to do architecture that I believe helps our towns and cities to be better. I’m convinced that to talk about this awakens interest in others – not being famous.”
Of course the Pritzker Prize does not set out to create a school of architects famous for being famous, but to recognise, celebrate and support talent, persistence and perhaps a unique contribution to the cause of architecture. The prize winners each deserve that recognition whether we agree or not with the choice of an individual recipient.
The fame culture is generated not so much by altruistic cultural institutions, but largely by a star-struck media wanting to create a cast of famous characters to write about. There is, of course, pressure from editors to do so, too, fearing perhaps that anything else might lose readers hungry for celebrity culture. Of course, the critic gains a kind of minor celebrity status, too, through association with this “star” culture.
Charlie Rose sits down with Tom Pritzker and 2014 Pritzker laureate Shigeru Ban to discuss the importance of architecture, the purpose of the Prize and the significance of Ban’s selection. The discussion starts at 40:00, following coverage on the Malaysian Airline’s tragedy.
Last week, Frei Otto was announced as the 40th recipient of the Pritzker Prize, the latest in a long line of talented architects (as well as the first architect to ever receive the Prize posthumously). Learn more about the Prize and its winners after the break!
Pritzker Juror Alejandro Aravena on Shigeru Ban: Virtuousity in Service of Our Most Urgent Challenges
The following is Alejandro Aravena's response to the Shigeru Ban's Pritzker win. Aravena is the executive director of the firm ELEMENTAL S.A and a member of the Pritzker Jury who selected Ban as this year's Pritzker Laureate.
Shigeru Ban has expanded the field of architecture in unexpected ways. He has proved that the inspired artist and the skilled designer is not inevitably condemned to work for a privileged elite, but that innovation can take place while working for the majority, particularly those historically underserved, forgotten or neglected. In order to do that, he redefined the approach to deal with difficult, urgent and relevant challenges, replacing professional charity by professional quality. Ban has shown that no matter how tough the circumstances or scarce the means, good design far from being an extra cost carries the added value of sharp efficiency, power of synthesis and an uplifting feeling.
We culled the Twitterverse looking for reactions to Shigeru Ban's Prizker win - from readers and critics alike. While the responses were generally positive, some were less so.
See our favorite responses - from #baffled to #goodenough to #Banstheman! - after the break.
Yesterday we asked some prominent critics and a few of Ban's peers to weigh in on the Japanese architect's Pritzker win. Curators, architects, and writers praised Ban's approach and conviction, describing what Ban's work signifies to the architecture community. Read on for comments from Architecture for Humanity co-founder Cameron Sinclair, MoMA curators Barry Bergdoll and Pedro Gadanho, Cooper Union classmates Nanako Umemoto and Jesse Reiser, of Reiser + Umemototo, and more.
"We are very proud of Shigeru as the first Pritzker Prize Winner to have graduated from Cooper Union. Shigeru continues to embody the independent thinking that was highly emphasized through our education. We met Shigeru in 1979, and can speak to his dedication to humanity from the beginning. As we recall, each design problem for Shigeru became an occasion to explore the work of what he considered to be the master architects as a way of developing his own voice. It has become fashionable to connect architecture to social causes; however, Shigeru has never seen it as a trend, but rather something fundamental to his design practice. Unlike those in the discipline who conflate their social and political commitments with architecture, he happens to be a very fine architect. As a result of his education abroad and his inclination to define a unique practice, Shigeru has always been viewed as an independent within the Japanese scene. We are very excited that Shigeru's work is being honored."
- Nanako Umemoto and Jesse Reiser
Founders of Reiser + Umemototo, RUR Architecture PC
Last week we had the opportunity to interview this year's Pritzker Prize winner, Shigeru Ban, within his Metal Shutters Houses in New York City. The Japanese architect, who was a member of the Pritzker jury from 2006-2009, gave us his thoughtful, humble response to receiving architecture's most prestigious prize, saying the win is an "encouragement for me to continue working to make great architecture as well as working in disaster areas."
When we asked him how he remains so committed to humanitarian efforts, balancing them with his other commissions, he explained: "I also like to make monuments because monuments can be wonderful treasures for the city, but also I knew many people were suffering after the natural disasters, and the government provided them very poor evacuation facilities and temporary housing. I believe I can make them better."
Read the entire interview transcript, in which Ban discusses his innovative use of materials and gives us a few anecdotes about studying in the US, after the break.
Pritzker Laureate Shigeru Ban may be as well known for his innovative use of materials as for his compassionate approach to design. For a little over three decades, Ban, the founder of the Voluntary Architects Network, has applied his extensive knowledge of recyclable materials, particularly paper and cardboard, to constructing high-quality, low-cost shelters for victims of disaster across the world - from Rwanda, to Haiti, to Turkey, Japan, and more. We've rounded up images of Ban's humanitarian work - get inspired after the break.
“Shigeru Ban is a tireless architect whose work exudes optimism. Where others may see insurmountable challenges, Ban sees a call to action. Where others might take a tested path, he sees the opportunity to innovate. He is a committed teacher who is not only a role model for younger generation, but also an inspiration.” -- Pritzker Jury 2014
Citing his innovative approach to structure and material as well as his commitment to compassionate design, the Pritzker Jury has selected Japanese architect Shigeru Ban as the 2014 winner of the Pritzker Prize. Ban is the thirty-eighth recipient of the Pritzker Prize and its seventh Japanese recipient.
Ban, who studied at Sci-Arc and Cooper Union, first gained international recognition for his experimental, creative use of unconventional materials, particularly paper and cardboard. However, he has more recently gained fame for bringing low-cost, high-quality design to those most in need of it, such as refugees and victims of natural disaster.
You probably know by now that Shigeru Ban has won this year's Pritzker Prize, but did you know he almost went to university to play rugby? Or that he constructed his home without pulling down a single tree? These and many more fun facts on the 38th Pritzker laureate, after the break.
Explore the architectural development of Pritzker Laureate Shigeru Ban - from his early, more minimalist residential work in the 90s to his experimental, undulating structures (2010's Pompidou Metz, Nine Bridges Golf Club) to his latest masterpiece in timber construction, Tamedia New Office Building (2013).
We've just learned that the Pritzker Prize will be announced on Monday, March 24 at 5pm EDT. This prize -- architecture's most prestigious -- has been awarded annually since 1979. Past winners include Philip Johnson, Zaha Hadid, Rem Koolhaas, Oscar Niemeyer and Norman Foster (full list). You can see ArchDaily's coverage of the prize here. Stay tuned for the latest updates on this year's winner. Who do you think deserves to win?
In an interview with Spanish newspaper El País, Lu Wenyu defends her husband Wang Shu for solely receiving the Pritzker Prize in 2012. Despite the fact that the couple co-founded Amateur Architecture Studio and have worked side by side ever since, Wengyu maintains that her husband would have shared the Prize with her - she just didn't want it.
To coincide with the 40th anniversary of the completion of Danish architect Jørn Utzon's Sydney Opera House, The Opera House Project takes you on a journey from the project's inception in 1954 - known as Design 218 - to the completed masterpiece up to 2012, and all the personal, political and technical struggles that the designers were faced with. As expressed by Sam Doust, writer and director of the project, the epic journey is based on an "aspiration to perfection" and then the "failure to achieve it".