Pritzker's Decision-Making Process

Dani Zoe

Don't get me wrong, Wang Shu is an excellent choice for the Pritzker and his architecture is absolutely exceptional. However, last year and this year's decisions make me question the process and metrics used to choose a Pritzker prize winner. Last year, Kazuyo Sejima won, I believe the second woman to ever win the award, and the committee also gave the award to her husband and partner Ryue Nishizawa. Yet this year, they did not give the award to Wang Shu's wife and co-partner Lu Wenyu.

What is the reasoning behind this? In 1991, the Pritzker was awarded to Robert Venturi, but not to Denise Scott Brown who, if you've ever met the pair, clearly has a say in their designs. Husband and wife teams are present everywhere, yet the committee cannot seem to come to an understanding of how to deal with truly collaborative and personally involved design teams. Just wondering what everyone else's take on this is.

Feb 28, 12 1:52 pm

Simple answer:

The Pritzkers are rich-as-fuck ballers who don't give two shits and they do whatever the fuck they want.

"Long" answer:

Individuals, or couples, are nominated by their peers, past winners, academics and other important people. So, it depends on the who nominated who and why.

Feb 28, 12 2:37 pm  · 

dani - excellent question and one more than a few of us have been asking over the last 24 hours to be sure. our conclusion in the office is that the committee, in a lot of instances (and maybe in this one?) is looking to parse out what the partners in each situation are 'contributing'. which is crazy and absurd, but the only rationale we could come to is that they pushed it to him (only) because of his teaching and seemingly stronger public profile in terms of their writings. 


again, it's lunacy that they only recognize 'an individual'. obviously, they couldn't separate jacques and pierre from each other (and i'm sure nothing in their history would give them that opportunity) but it's really baffling how they seemingly couldn't separate sejima and nishizawa, even though each maintains a separate practice apart from their work together (and i'm not sure they're married btw.)


i personally can't imagine how they'd approach a williams + tsien, bolles wilson, or even a non-couple firm like barkow lieblinger. recognizing a partnership isn't the same as recognizing a firm but denying recognition to someone who's an integral partner cheapens the overall merit of the work...

Feb 28, 12 2:40 pm  · 

I thought this thread was going to be about how the Prtizker went to the Chinese, amidst a growing new cold war.

Feb 28, 12 5:39 pm  · 

@ Dani Zoe

"Last year, Kazuyo Sejima won, I believe the second woman to ever win the award, and the committee also gave the award to her husband and partner Ryue Nishizawa."

Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa, partners in the architectural firm, SANAA, won in 2010. As far as I know they are not husband and wife. 

Eduardo Souto de Moura won last year, 2011.

I agree, I find it strange his wife didn't receive the prize as well, since Wang Shu has made it clear that they founded their office, Amateur Architecture Studio, together  in 1997.

What's kind of insane and impressive at the same time is this:

"He designed a youth center in Haining near Hangzhou in 1990, but then spent nearly a decade working with craftsmen to learn about construction. Wang completed his first major work, the Library of Wenzheng College at Suzhou University, in 2000."

2000! 12 years later he receives the Pritzker! Ponder than one please.


Feb 28, 12 7:36 pm  · 

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