African architect Diébédo Francis Kéré, founder of Kéré Architecture in Berlin, Germany, has been awarded the Marcus Prize for Architecture. The prize, which recognizes emerging global talents, is administered by the School of Architecture and Urban Planning (SARUP) at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee (UWM). Kéré will visit SARUP in the spring 2012 semester and lead a graduate studio on specific architectural challenges in Milwaukee. He also will participate in public workshops and lectures. More award description and a brief synopsis of the architect and his work after the break.
The Marcus Prize is a $100,000 prize funded by the Marcus Corporation Foundation and administered through SARUP. It provides a $50,000 award to the winner and another $50,000 to the school to run the competition, and bring Kéré to UWM.
Born in the western African country of Burkina Faso, Kéré was the first-born son of the chief of the village of Gando. In 1998, he founded the organization Bricks for the Gando Schools, through which he raised the funds to build a new primary school there. For the project, he adapted construction techniques to take advantage of passive ventilation strategies and local resources. The results illustrate the power of architecture to change a community. In 2004, he completed his degree at the School of Architecture at the Technical University of Berlin.
“Kéré is…able to translate western architectural traditions into indigenous processes and values,” says Toshiko Mori, the Robert P. Hubbard Professor in the Practice of Architecture at Harvard University Graduate School of Design who served as one of the jurors. “His desire to make sophisticated and uncompromised buildings with so few resources is an empowering and optimistic lesson to share with students.”
A six-person jury convened in Milwaukee to select the fourth winner of the Marcus Prize from among the 30 international nominees drawn from 13 countries. The nominees were all practicing architects suggested by a select international committee of nominators.
Although Kéré’s firm is in Germany, much of his work is being done in western Africa and other countries. His projects include a school for girls in central India, a Red Cross museum in Switzerland and an international conference center in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso.
In addition to Mori, jurors included Carlos Jimenez, principal of Carlos Jimenez Studio, professor at Rice University and a jury member of the Pritzker Architectural Prize (Houston); Sarah Herda, director of The Graham Foundation for the Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts (Chicago); Robert Greenstreet, dean of the UWM School of Architecture and Urban Planning; Steve Marcus, CEO of the Marcus Corporation Foundation (Milwaukee); and Chris Cornelius, UWM assistant professor of architecture.
The first Marcus Prize was awarded in 2005 to MVRDV, Rotterdam; the second in 2007 to Barkow + Leibinger Architects, Berlin; and the third to Alejandro Aravena, Elemental, Chile in 2009. Work from the Marcus Prize studios has been published on countless websites and international journals, and in several books, including “Skycar City” (Aktar) and “Architecture Now! 7” (Taschen). The Marcus Prize has been described as “the most lucrative prize for young designers in the world matched only by the Pritzker.”
The Marcus Corporation Foundation is the philanthropic arm of the Marcus Corporation, a lodging and entertainment company headquartered in Milwaukee. It is part of the Marcus family’s commitment to support architecture in Milwaukee.