The Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement of the 17th International Architecture Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia was awarded to Spanish architect, educator, critic, and theoretician Rafael Moneo. Selected by the Board of Directors of La Biennale di Venezia, upon recommendation of the Curator of the Biennale Architettura 2021, Hashim Sarkis, the acknowledgment will be awarded to the architect on Saturday, May 22nd, 2021 together with the Special Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement in memoriam to Lina Bo Bardi.
The first-ever Spanish architect to receive the Pritzker Prize, Rafael Moneo (Tudela, Spain,1937) is famous for his contextual buildings and commitment to modernist stylings. Attracted initially to philosophy and painting rather than architecture, he was influenced by his father - an industrial designer – to pursue a career in architecture. Graduated in 1961 from the Escuela Técnica Superior of Madrid, the architect worked during his early years with the architect Francisco Javier Sáenz de Oiza in Madrid and with Jørn Utzon in Hellebaeck, Denmark, before returning to Spain and opening up his own practice in 1965.
An educator, Moneo started teaching at the Escuela Técnica Superior of Madrid, and then at the Escuela Técnica Superior of Barcelona. In 1985 Rafael Moneo was appointed Chairman of the Architecture Department of the Harvard University Graduate School of Design, a position he held until 1990. In 1991 he was named Josep Lluís Sert Professor of Architecture at Harvard University Graduate School of Design where he continues to lecture as Professor Emeritus.
Among his best-known works are the transformation of the Villahermosa Palace into the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum (1989-92), the Pilar and Joan Miró Foundation in Palma de Mallorca (1987-1992), the Diagonal Building in Barcelona (in collaboration with Manuel de Solá-Morales, 1988-1993), the Museums of Modern Art and Architecture in Stockholm, Sweden (1994-98), the Kursaal Auditorium and Congress Center in San Sebastián (1991-1999), the Prado Museum Extension (2001-2007), the Souks in Beirut (1996-2009), the Northwest Science Building for Columbia University (2007-2010), the Princeton Neuroscience Institute and Peretzman-Scully Hall (2007-2013).
To celebrate Rafael Moneo, the curator Sarkis has set up a little exhibition inside the Book Pavillon at the Giardini: a selection of plastic models and emblematic pictures of the buildings realized by the Spanish architect, that can be seen as an answer to the question How will we live together?
Read on for Hashim Sarkis’ statement.
Rafael Moneo is one of the most transformative architects of his generation.
As a practitioner, and through his broad array of buildings, like the Kursaal Auditorium, The Prado Museum, the Atocha Train Station, and the Los Angeles Cathedral, he has highlighted the ability of every architectural project to respond to contingencies of site and program while transcending them.
As an educator, he has rigorously guided several generations of architects towards architecture as a vocation. As a scholar, he has combined his visual prowess and analytic rigors to help reinterpret some of the most canonical historic buildings with fresh eyes.
As a critic of the contemporary scene, he has written on emerging phenomena and key projects and has established some of the most important dialogues on the present scene of architecture with colleagues from around the world.
Throughout his long career, Moneo has maintained a poetic prowess, reminding us of the powers of architectural form to express, shape but also to endure. He has also been tenaciously committed to architecture as an act of building.
The Golden Lion for lifetime achievement is only befitting for the architect who took part in the Giudecca housing project of 1983, who won the competition for a new Cinema Palace at the Lido di Venezia in 1991, and who has drawn many a lesson for architecture from Venice.
Info via la Biennale di Venezia.