Another architect has won the illustrious Pritzker Architecture Prize! Alejandro Aravena was announced as the 41st laureate today, being the first Chilean architect to receive the international prize. Dubbed the "Nobel Prize" of architecture, the Pritzker honors a living architect (or architects) who have produced stellar built work, which has consistently and contributed significantly to society. Were your 2016 predictions correct?
It looks like the jury took the young-humanitarian-architect route in selecting this year's laureate. As the executive director of Santiago-based ELEMENTAL, the 48-year-old Aravena is also directing the 2016 Venice Biennale this May.
Recent laureates include Shigeru Ban (2014), Toyo Ito (2013), Wang Shu (2012), Eduardo Souto de Moura (2011), SANAA (2010), and Peter Zumthor (2009). Last year, the late German architect Frei Otto was revealed as the 2015 winner in an impromptu announcement the day after he passed away. Laureates receive $100,000, a formal citation certificate, and a bronze medallion based on the designs of iconic architect Louis Sullivan.
Aravena will be presented with the award during a formal ceremony at the United Nations Headquarters in New York on April 4. Check out the official winning announcement in the video below.
Read on for more about Alejandro Aravena's work.
Alejandro Aravena is the fourth Latin American architect to win the Pritzker, following Luis Barragán (1980), Oscar Niemeyer (1988), and Paulo Mendes da Rocha (2006).
From the official Pritzker winning announcement:
"Aravena has completed remarkable buildings at the esteemed Universidad Católica de Chile in Santiago, including the UC Innovation Center – Anacleto Angelini (2014), the Siamese Towers (2005), Medical School (2004), School of Architecture (2004), and the Mathematics School (1999). These energy-efficient buildings respond to the local climate with innovative, efficient facades and floor plans and offer the users natural light and convivial meeting places. Currently under construction in Shanghai, China, is an office building for healthcare company Novartis, with office spaces designed to accommodate different modes of work — individual, collective, formal and informal. In the United States, Aravena has built St. Edward’s University Dorms (2008) in Austin, Texas."
"Since 2001, Aravena has been executive director of the Santiago-based ELEMENTAL, a 'Do Tank,' as opposed to a think tank, whose partners are Gonzalo Arteaga, Juan Cerda, Victor Oddó, and Diego Torres. ELEMENTAL focuses on projects of public interest and social impact, including housing, public space, infrastructure, and transportation. ELEMENTAL has designed more than 2,500 units of low-cost social housing. A hallmark of the firm is a participatory design process in which the architects work closely with the public and end users."
"ELEMENTAL is also known for designing social housing that they call 'half of a good house,' in which the design leaves space for the residents to complete their houses themselves and thus raise themselves up to a middle-class standard of living. This innovative approach, called 'incremental housing,' allows for social housing to be built on more expensive land closer to economic opportunity and gives residents a sense of accomplishment and personal investment."
"Aravena and ELEMENTAL have designed the Metropolitan Promenade (1997 - ongoing) and Bicentennial Children’s Park (2012), both in Santiago. After the 2010 earthquake and tsunami that hit Chile, ELEMENTAL was called to work on the reconstruction of the city of Constitución; their work there includes emergency relief work, a master plan, Villa Verde (incremental housing, 2013), and the Constitución Cultural Center (2014).
Other works include a Montessori School (2001) in Santiago, Chile; “Chairless” furniture (2010) for Vitra in Weil am Rhein, Germany; Monterrey Housing (incremental housing, 2010) in Monterrey, Mexico; Las Cruces Pilgrim Lookout Point (2010) in Jalisco, Mexico; Calama PLUS master plan (2012 - ongoing) in Calama, Chile; Writer’s Cabin for the Jan Michalski Foundation (2015) in Montricher, Switzerland; and Ayelén School (2015) in Rancagua, Chile."
In response to being named the 2016 Laureate of the Pritzker Architecture Prize, Mr. Aravena wrote in an email to Pritzker officials: 'Looking backwards, we feel deeply thankful. No achievement is individual. Architecture is a collective discipline. So we think, with gratitude, of all the people who contributed to give form to a huge diversity of forces at play. Looking into the future we anticipate Freedom! The prestige, the reach, the gravitas of the prize is such that we hope to use its momentum to explore new territories, face new challenges, and walk into new fields of action. After such a peak, the path is unwritten. So our plan is not to have a plan, face the uncertain, be open to the unexpected. Finally, looking at the present, we are just overwhelmed, ecstatic, happy. It's time to celebrate and share our joy with as many people as possible.'
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