In an announcement today, Tom Pritzker revealed not just one but three architects as the laureates of the 2017 Pritzker Prize: Rafael Aranda, Carme Pigem and Ramon Vilalta — the co-founders of RCR Arquitectes. Dubbed as the "Nobel Prize" of architecture, the illustrious Pritzker isn't only a big deal in terms of prestige. Once the latest laureate is revealed, the debate surrounding the prize is ignited once more — from questioning the prize's significance in the field to discussing which architect should have won.
It's the first time that three architects have been honored with the prize. Originally from Olot in the Catalonian region of Spain, Aranda, Pigem, and Vilalta have worked closely together since founding RCR Arquitectes in 1988. It was this nearly three-decade collaboration — along with their longtime commitment to creative vision and equal sharing of responsibilities — that led the jury to select all three architects to win.
“It is a great joy and a great responsibility. We are thrilled that this year three professionals, who work closely together in everything we do, are recognized,” Carme Pigem said in a statement.
Emphasizing place, narrative, and materiality in their work, their projects “seek connections between the exterior and interior, resulting in emotional and experiential architecture”. Here are some of their notable projects, many of which can be found throughout Catalonia, Spain, and greater Europe:
“They’ve demonstrated that unity of a material can lend such incredible strength and simplicity to a building,” Jury Chair Glenn Murcutt said in a statement. “The collaboration of these three architects produces uncompromising architecture of a poetic level, representing timeless work that reflects great respect for the past, while projecting clarity that is of the present and the future.”
The Pritzker Jury said in their citation, in part: “We live in a globalized world where we must rely on international influences, trade, discussion, transactions, etc. But more and more people fear that because of this international influence…we will lose our local values, our local art, and our local customs…Rafael Aranda, Carme Pigem and Ramon Vilalta tell us that it may be possible to have both. They help us to see, in a most beautiful and poetic way, that the answer to the question is not ‘either/or’ and that we can, at least in architecture, aspire to have both; our roots firmly in place and our arms outstretched to the rest of the world.”
Pritzker laureates receive a US$100,000 prize, a formal citation certificate, and a bronze medallion inspired by the designs of iconic architect Louis Sullivan. The winners will be presented with the award during a formal ceremony at the State Guest House, Akasaka Palace in Tokyo on May 20.
Over the last decade, previous laureates include Alejandro Aravena (2016), the late Frei Otto (2015), Shigeru Ban (2014), Toyo Ito (2013), Wang Shu (2012), Eduardo Souto de Moura (2011), SANAA (2010), Peter Zumthor (2009), and Paulo Mendes da Rocha (2006).
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