Deemed as Brazil's most celebrated architect, Paulo Mendes da Rocha is attracting international recognition once again as he continues to rack up top-tier lifetime achievement awards this year. Today, RIBA revealed da Rocha as the winner of the 2017 Royal Gold Medal. Awarded since 1848 and approved by the Queen of England, the Gold Medal is awarded to an individual or a group of people who have significantly influenced “the advancement of architecture either directly or indirectly”. da Rocha is the second Brazilian architect to win the accolade, joining Oscar Niemeyer who won it in 1998. For the 2016 edition, Zaha Hadid was the first woman architect to win in her own right.
In addition to the RIBA Gold Medal, da Rocha won the 2000 Mies van der Rohe Prize and the Pritzker Prize in 2006. More recently, he received the 2016 Venice Biennale Golden Lion and was named the 2016 Praemium Imperiale architecture laureate earlier this month. All are well deserved.
da Rocha will be presented with the RIBA Gold Medal in early 2017. Scroll down to see some of his works.
Spearheading the Brutalist movement in his native Sao Paulo, da Rocha is credited for transforming the city with his numerous cultural buildings, which are typically designed in exposed concrete and rough finishes. Born in 1928, da Rocha's architecture career kicked off at a young age when he won the competition to design the gymnasium in the Paulistano Athletics Club (pictured above) at age 29.
Among da Rocha's notable projects are: Saint Peter Chapel (1987), the Brazilian Sculpture Museum MuBE (1988), Patriach Plaza (1992-2002), the Pinacoteca do Estado gallery (1993) and the FIESP Cultural Center (1997). Outside São Paulo, notable buildings include the Serra Dourada football stadium in Goiás (1973), Lady of the Conception Chapel in Recife (2006) and Cais das Artes arts centre in Vitória (2008).
Despite Mendes da Rocha’s international recognition, he only has a few notable projects outside of his home country such as the Brazilian pavilion for Expo ’70 in Osaka, Japan and the National Coach Museum in Lisbon, Portugal completed in 2015.
“Paulo Mendes da Rocha’s work is highly unusual in comparison to the majority of the world’s most celebrated architects, ” commented RIBA President and chair of the selection committee Jane Duncan. “He is an architect with an incredible international reputation, yet almost all his masterpieces are built exclusively in his home country. Revolutionary and transformative, Mendes da Rocha’s work typifies the architecture of 1950s Brazil – raw, chunky and beautifully ‘brutal’ concrete.”
On receiving the RIBA Royal Gold Medal, Paulo Mendes da Rocha said in a statement: “After so many years of work, it is a great joy to receive this recognition from the Royal Institute of British Architects for the contribution my lifetime of work and experiments have given to the progress of architecture and society. I would like to send my warmest wishes to all those who share my passion, in particular British architects, and share this moment with all the architects and engineers that have collaborated on my projects.”
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