The sudden and unexpected announcement of the Pritzker Prize yesterday evening sent shockwaves through the architecture world. With the sad death of the Prize's latest laureate Frei Otto on Monday, the Pritzker made the unprecedented decision to announce the winner two weeks early, ensuring that Otto's final, crowning achievement would make its way into the obituaries of this great man.
Of course, despite the sudden nature of the announcement, the many critics on Twitter were on hand to lend their initial thoughts in what was an interesting mix of congratulations, sadness and nostalgia. Read on after the break for all the reactions.
Frei Otto has just been named the 40th recipient of the Pritzker Prize - two weeks prior to the expected official announcement. The abrupt news has been released early due the unfortunate passing of the German architect and structural engineer, who was best known for the 1972 Munich Olympic Stadium. The pioneering tensile structure, which stood in considerable contrast to the strict, authoritarian stadium that was its predecessor, was meant to present a different, more compassionate face for Germany.
"Throughout his life, Frei Otto has produced imaginative, fresh, unprecedented spaces and constructions. He has also created knowledge. Herein resides his deep influence: not in forms to be copied, but through the paths that have been opened by his research and discoveries," says the Jury.
"His contributions to the field of architecture are not only skilled and talented, but also generous. For his visionary ideas, inquiring mind, belief in freely sharing knowledge and inventions, his collaborative spirit and concern for the careful use of resources, the 2015 Pritzker Architecture Prize is awarded to Frei Otto."
Though he sadly passed away before the award ceremony, Otto was informed of his win by the Pritzker Prize's Executive Director Martha Thorne, who traveled to his home in Warmbronn to inform him of his prize. Speaking shortly after her visit, he said: "I am now so happy to receive this Pritzker Prize and I thank the jury and the Pritzker family very much. I have never done anything to gain this prize. My architectural drive was to design new types of buildings to help poor people especially following natural disasters and catastrophes... You have here a happy man."
Last night German architect Frei Otto was selected as the 2015 Pritzker Prize Laureate, the second German to win the award and the first to receive the award posthumously. The video above shows the impressive construction process of Otto’s German Pavilion at the 1967 International and Universal Exposition in Montreal (although unfortunately without sound).
Covering an area of 8,000 square meters, the pavilion featured a large, steel mesh web suspended over eight steel masts, which were located at irregular intervals and supported by anchored cables located outside of the structure. A transparent polyester fabric was then placed over the mesh roof, creating a tent. The whole construction took only six weeks.
As the Pritzker Jury begins its deliberations for the 2015 Pritzker Prize, this is a critical time of year for shaping the landscape of architectural debate for the coming year and beyond. The following is an open letter to Martha Thorne, the Executive Director of the Pritzker Prize, from Conrad Newel, author of the popular blog Notes on Becoming a Famous Architect.
The Pritzker Prize has announced that Richard Rogers will join the ranks as the latest member of its prestigious jury. Rogers, a Pritzker Laureate himself in 2007, is known for his innovative High-Tech style, establishing his name in the 1970s and 80s with buildings such as the Pompidou Centre in Paris and Lloyds of London. Since then, he has also become known for his advocacy in a range of urban issues, being commissioned by the UK Government to produce a report on British cities entitled "Towards an Urban Renaissance," and for his active role in politics as a member of the House of Lords.
Aravena also emphasized the importance of community participation in his projects, saying: “We won’t ever solve the problem unless we use people’s own capacity to build.” Watch Aravena’s full talk above and take a peek at some of his key projects below.
Barcelona architect Benedetta Tagliabue has been appointed as the newest and ninth member of the Pritzker Architecture Prize jury, joining Martha Thorne (executive director), Peter Palumbo (chair), Alejandro Aravena, Stephen Breyer, Yung Ho Chang, Kristin Feireiss, Glenn Murcutt, Juhani Pallasmaa and Ratan N. Tata.
As Tom Pritzker, president of the Hyatt Foundation described, Tagliabue was chosen for her “deep and international knowledge of the best in architecture today” which will bring “new perspectives” to the jury.
“The Pritzker Prize has become the award that points out the most important directions in architecture,” stated Tagliabue. “For more than 35 years, quality in architecture at all scales and regardless of firm size has been the outstanding value of the prize. I feel incredibly honored to be part of the jury and I am looking forward to sharing ideas and beautiful moments with my colleagues.”
Robert Venturi, the architect famous for "less is a bore," turns 89 today. Venturi started his firm in 1964 and ran it with his wife and partner Denise Scott Brown from 1967 until 2012. Today the Pritzker Prize winner's legacy lives on as the firm continues under the name VSBA (Venturi Scott Brown Associates).
As one of the leading architects of Japan's increasingly highly-regarded architecture culture, 2013 Pritzker LaureateToyo Ito (born June 1, 1941) has defined his career by combining elements of minimalism with an embrace of technology, in a way that merges both traditional and contemporary elements of Japanese culture.
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:
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.”