The Board of Directors of La Biennale di Venezia, upon recommendation from Alejandro Aravena, have announced the Brazilian Pritzker Prize-winning architect Paulo Mendes da Rocha as the recipient of the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement of the 15th International Architecture Exhibition, Reporting From the Front. Citing the "timelessness" of his work "both physically and stylistically" as "the most striking attribute of his architecture," the board have also stated that "this astonishing consistency may be the consequence of his ideological integrity and structural genius."
The citation continues: "He is a nonconformist challenger and simultaneously a passionate realist. His fields of interest are beyond architecture, in political, social, geographical, historical and technical realms. The role model he played for many generations of architects in Brazil, Latin America and everywhere is that of a person able to join shared and collective efforts as well as someone able to attract others to the cause of a better built environment."
All space must be attached to a value, to a public dimension. There is no private space. The only private space that you can imagine is the human mind.
—Paulo Mendes da Rocha (May 26, 2004)
About Paulo Mendes da Rocha
"Paulo Mendes da Rocha spent his childhood between the city of Vitória, the harbour capital of Espírito Santo where he was born in October 1928 at his maternal grandparents’ house, and Paquetá Island, in the middle of Guanabara Bay in Rio de Janeiro, the national capital, where the Mendes da Rocha family lived.
The architect’s family moved to the city of São Paulo in 1940, where his father Paulo Menezes Mendes da Rocha was appointed Chair of the Naval and Harbour Resources of the Polytechnic School of the Universidade de São Paulo, which he directed from 1943 to 1947.
Still in São Paulo, Paulo Mendes da Rocha graduated from the Mackenzie Architecture School in 1954 and was able to build a solid carrier as a designer of houses, schools, apartment buildings, museums, furniture, theatre sets and several urban projects.
After graduation, he won a national project competition in 1957 for the construction of a gymnasium, the Clube Atlético Paulistano. This work brought him public recognition and also won the Grande Prêmio Presidência da República at the 6th Bienal of São Paulo in 1961. In 1968, the architect won the national project competition for the Brazilian pavilion at Osaka Expo 70 and traveled to that city to follow the construction development in 1969.
Amongst several international honours, he has been awarded the Honorary Fellowship from the Conselho Internacional dos Arquitetos de Língua Portuguesa, The Mies Van der Rohe Foundation Prize for his project for São Paulo’s Pinacoteca. Furthermore, he was selected in 2000 to represent Brazil at the 7th International Architecture Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia. He received the Pritzker Architecture Prize in 2006.
In Brazil, the architect was twice honoured with the Ordem do Mérito Cultural, in 2004 and 2013. He also received the Troféu APCA (Associação Paulista de Críticos de Arte) twice, in 2012 and 2015. Whilst working as an architect, Mendes da Rocha joined the world of academia thanks to his good friend, Vilanova Artigas, one of Brazil’s most remarkable architects. Both architects enhanced the School of Architecture of the Universidade de São Paulo with their social and humanistic views, which have had a major influence on many generations of architects and artists to come."
The acknowledgment will be awarded on Saturday May 28th 2016 at Ca’ Giustinian—the headquarters of La Biennale di Venezia—during the awards ceremony and inauguration of the 15th Exhibition (which will open to the public at 10:00 am on the same day).