“Frei Otto: Spanning the Future,” a documentary profiling the internationally renowned architect and engineer Frei Otto, has been in production since 2012. Otto, who was named the 2015 Pritzker Prize laureate on Tuesday evening (following his death on Monday night), first gained international recognition half a century ago as a pioneer in designing tensile structures using metal frames and lightweight membranes.
Frei Otto passed away this past Monday, a day before being internationally celebrated as the Pritzker Prize’s 40th laureate. The first architect to ever receive the Prize posthumously, Otto was a brilliant inventor, architect and engineer who pioneered some of history’s most ambitious tensile structures.
On Tuesday evening the Pritzker Prize jury named Frei Otto as the 40th recipient of the award, making him the second German to receive the award and the first winner to receive it posthumously. Otto was both an architect and a structural engineer, perhaps best known for the 1972 Munich Olympic Stadium.
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.
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.
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.
We’ve just learned that the Pritzker Prize will be announced on Monday, March 23rd at 10am EDT. This prize — architecture’s most prestigious — has been awarded annually since 1979. Past winners include Philip Johnson, Zaha Hadid, Rem Koolhaas, Oscar Niemeyer, Norman Foster and Toyo Ito (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?
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.
I have to hand it to you and all the people on the Pritzker committee, you guys are a very crafty bunch. Just when I thought I had you all figured out, you have now - even though only slightly - succeeded in confounding me.
From my 2011 analysis of the Pritzker, I figured that your potential pool of laureates was always a very predictable bunch. In fact anyone could look at my data and predict with reasonable certainty that the next laureate would most likely be an Asian or Caucasian male starchitect from Europe, The USA, or Japan. I further pointed out that none of your laureates have done much in the way of humanitarianism, despite the fact that the mission statement of the Pritzker also asks that the recipient should be making significant contributions to humanity. I maintained that this part of the mandate has been consistently overlooked.
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.
“If there is any power in design, that’s the power of synthesis.”
In this TED Talk Chilean architect Alejandro Aravena, the founder of ELEMENTAL, speaks about some of the design challenges he has faced in Chile and his innovative approaches to solving them. Emphasizing the need for simplicity in design, Aravena talks about three of his projects: the Quinta Monroy social housing project, through which he developed the “half-finished home” typology for governments to provide quality homes at incredibly low-prices; his “inside-out” design for the Pontifical Catholic University’s Innovation Center UC – Anacelto Angelini, which reduced energy costs by two-thirds; and lastly his masterplan for rebuilding a resilient coastline in Constitución Chile after the city was hit by the 2010 earthquake.
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.”
More on Tagliabue’s selection, after the break.
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).
British writer Tim Abrahams finds Shigeru Ban's architecture "kooky, Middle Earthy, Hobbity" – an opinion which earns him the title of "idiot" in the eyes of newly appointed Architecture for Humanity Executive Director Eric Cesal. In an article for the Boston Review, Stephen Phelan uses the pair's opposing opinions to illustrate the Pritzker Prize winning architect's perceived failures and successes. Read his very engaging take, here.
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 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.”
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.