2009 Pritzker Prize?


the comments seem to be narrowing to Ito, Zumthor and a few others.

here's some broader thoughts:

Ito - looks like an odds-on favorite. the work is highly influential as stated above and his work keeps changing and evolving. also, there hasn't been an Asian Laureate since 1995, so long overdue.

Zumthor - also as noted above, his work is of high standard and individual. but, there have been a number of Europeans lately, and there were two recent "quiet" architects, with Murcutt and Utzon in 2002, 2003. give it a few more years.

S. Holl - reasonable body of work, but seems a bit young for the award right now. feels like he could be eligible in about 5 more years.

D. Chipperfield - if you want to support a strong, but reasonable architect, then i would think Chipperfield would have more support than Holl. fairly mature body of work, with a good range. also known for quality of detail and execution (like Zumthor) but not so isolated and limited in scale as Zumthor.

TWBT - following the same line of considered, refined work, with a strong materiality, would have to put Tod Williams and Billie Tsein in the running, as much as Zumthor, Holl, Chipperfield and more so than David Adjaye. but maybe they too need more time and some larger projects to stand out.

Charles Correa - this would be my dark horse. as noted, there hasn't been an Asian Laureate for many years, and never one from India. Correa would make perfect sense as a grand figure in the last 50 years. His work is diverse, and his influence is also without question. time to give it to him before it is too late.

M. Fuksas - this could be another strong possibility. large body of work, covering a large range of projects and locations. doing more now than ever. more and more sophisticated work. downside is that he is too much a figure like Nouvel to get it this year. also, probably not so soon again for a Eurpoean.

Coop Himmelblau - not enough projects just yet, but i think they would now have to start being on the lists. again, European and maybe need more time.

D. Perrault - not enough recent work and his excitement has died down in the last 4 or 5 years. not such an influential force as a few years ago. unlikely.

Calatrava - seen as quite influential and with a strong portfolio. not all the projects are successful, but such a singular vision, he has to at least be on the list. again, not sure it is the year for a European, but maybe within the next 5 or 6 he may get it. His highly-engineered work may be too close to the selection of Rogers in 2007.

MVRDV - you can't say that they haven't been influential and they have done quite a number of projects. still, seems too early (look how long it too for Rem to get the prize) and there is always the problem that the Pritzker is given to an individual, rather than a group (with the exception of HdM). so, not sure how they'll handle that.

Libeskind - still too soon, and probably too many votes against for every vote in favour. some major, important projects, but probably will need to do a few more that are considered well resolved and well executed.

Eisenmann - again, a dark horse (in more ways than one) for the prize. whatever you say about Peter and how his built work is a poor reflection of his theories or advocations, as an influence in the last 40 years of architecture, he is highly significant. if this award is seen as more than just about buildings, and more about the course and trajectory of architecture, then Peter is way up on the list. even you you don't like what he advocates or where he wants architecture to go, you can't dismiss his influence and continued presence in the discourse. from Oppositions, to the IAUS, to ANY, to all his teaching, his books, his exhibitions, his presence at most major conferences and of course his un-even body of work - from House 1 to the Arizona Cardinals stadium. he must at least be a serious contender.

Feb 18, 09 1:37 am  · 

some good commentary, dlb. just a few things that occurred to me while reading it.

didn't holl come on the scene in the early 80s? too young?!

chipperfield is still a relatively new name to me. i know he's been around a while, but has he had enough influence and is the work really THAT notable to have had an impact on architecture culture? i sort of think of pawson as having had more influence, despite chipperfield's projects being larger.

would love to see twbta or correa. also would be all for eisenman, for the reasons you describe.

perrault has done some nice work, but is still most known for that horrible library. work comes from the 'grands projets' vein and often lacks subtlety.

himmelblau have become a cartoon of their former selves, imo. not that the work isn't compelling, but it seems to me that they're reconstituting old themes without taking them further and - in some cases - just pumping them full of adrenaline/testosterone with no further intellectual drive. their time is either past UNLESS they re-engage in the critical aspect of what they do.

Feb 18, 09 7:39 am  · 


S.Holl has "been around" since the 80's, but i would say his influence (beyond the watercolours) is mostly from mid 90's up to now. but mostly, my sense was that there are a few people out there that are getting quite old, and if they don't get the vote soon, then it will be too late. seems that Holl can wait a while longer and solidify his portfolio in the meantime. (not that age is the main criterion for the Pritzker).

i think in the European context (and more recently the US context) Chipperfield has had at lest as much influence as Pawson and seems to have a greater depth and range of work. certainly i don't see Pawson as being a name that comes up that much over the last few years. with the Pritzker, it vacillates between being about good, solid well-considered work (Meier, Pei, Roche, Maki, Moneo, Foster, Piano) to more exploratory, direction-changing work (Zaha, HdM, Rem, Mayne, Nouvel), to the smaller, earnest, well-detailed quiet work (Murcutt, Fehn, Utzon,). just seems to me that Chipperfield fits that first category pretty well and is starting to be quite busy. again, maybe he needs a few more years.

you are probably right about Himmelblau. they might start getting serious again, and they are certainly doing more work than ever before. they seem to fit the vein somewhere between Mayne and Zaha.

as i said before, i think the odds-on favorite is Ito. but the discussion above which suggests that Sejima (or SANAA) is just a form of Ito-lite doesn't seem to hold true. i think her work (their work) is heading down quite a different track than Ito. not saying she would be up for the Pritzker (although i could see them deciding they need another woman to be select soon - so far only 1 out of 31), but rather that i think there is a clear difference in their work. Ito would never follow the extreme diagrammatic materiality of the the SANAA 'Glass Pavilion' in Toledo.

Feb 18, 09 8:17 am  · 

Libeskind's buildings are terrible. I have visited a few of his designs and the detailing is appalling, his choice of materials is horrendous, the function of his plans are terrible, lighting is poor, and just the pure aesthetics are usually pretty bad. The ROM in Toronto is perhaps the worst piece of public architecture I have visited in my life. I feel bad for the tax payers of that city. I don't believe he should ever be in the conversation for the Pritzer Prize. There are so many more influencial people. And is he really that different than Frank Gehry or Morphosis? If anything I would say he is making similarly themed buildings but isn't nearly as influencial.

Sanaa is a little to new. Give them 5 years. Ito should win it first.

Chipperfield is fantastic and is a worthy choice. The design for the Museum Island in Berlin looks like its going to be an amazing space...He could win the year it is finished...maybe 2012 or around there.

What about throwing a curve ball and picking someone from Africa (Jo Noero)? Or what about Cameron Sinclair from Architecture for Humanity? Maybe people will be rewarded for designing social buildings instead of houses for millionaires and art galleries for rich and established institutions! Especially in the aftermath of Katrina, Tsunamis, Wars, Genocide in Darfu, Suicide bombings and the like. It would be great to look outside the mainstream channels of design.

Lucas Gray

Apr 4, 09 6:11 am  · 

Lucas, it would be great, but the pritzker prize is catered to a special demography of architects (and clients),, whether thats a good thing or a bad thing, i cant tell

Apr 4, 09 6:31 am  · 

Lucas, you are certainly entitled to your opinion, but your statement above and on your blog seem ill-informed about Libeskind's built work - particularly the Berlin Museum. you should know that the exhibition was not designed by Libeskind. it does not conform to the original ideas for the museum exhibition. as for the "tax-payer's money", given the huge visitation over the last 10 years - even before the exhibitions were installed - i can't imagine any local authority being upset about the resultant project. the Berlin Museum is one of the main tourist destination (foreign and locals alike) for Berlin.

i doubt that Libeskind would be up for the Pritzker for at least a few more years. i would agree that Chipperfield's chances have increased with the Neues Museum completion, and other works. as fays.panda suggests, it is unlikely that the Pritzker will go much outside their more conventional range.

Apr 4, 09 8:31 am  · 

Saw Charlie interview Alda Huxtable the other day. regarding the Pritzker, she said that when she use to be one of the voting "judges", that they would try to give it to architects just on the "cusp".

Although apparently Gehry always thought that he had been building for awhile, she replied.

Watch here

Apr 6, 09 6:50 pm  · 
Sasha Cisar

there is apparently some chatter and hints on the net regarding berkel having it won...
what do you make of it?
I still hope for PE, nevertheless.

Apr 11, 09 10:12 am  · 

dlb...I'm not all that ill informed about Libeskind's work. I just don't happen to like it after visiting a couple of his projects. I know he didn't design the exhibitions for the Jewish museum. When writing a review of a building I am still going to discuss the interior though. After all he is still responsible for some of the material choices and detailing of the interiors. Covering everything with dry wall is not the best solution in my opinion and the thin slanty windows just didn't do it for me. The voids throughout the building were great. The rest of my experience inside was rather disappointing.

The Jewish museum is a bold design that attracts tourists by the bushel. So it may pay for itself over time. However, Berlin has so much to see most of those tourists were probably going to come here regardless.

If you then look at his addition to the Royal Ontario Museum you will see that he is a one tick pony. That design is also just incredibly ugly. The material choices inside and out are horrendous. There is so much wasted space in the new lobby - and everything was just white washed drywall again. My criticism is that so many architects could do such better work when given a commission like that. City's pay loads of money to pull in Libeskind to bring a big name to their project yet in my opinion they are overspending for an inferior product. Hire Holl, or Sanaa or Herzog & de Meuron or an up and coming local designer and you will be better served in the long run.

I'm also not at all excited about his design for the World Trade Center.

Anyway, that's enough of my rant.

That's enough of my rant.

Apr 12, 09 7:55 am  · 
zumthor it is!
Apr 12, 09 10:16 am  · 


Apr 12, 09 10:37 am  · 
Smokety Mc Smoke Smoke

I had heard a rumor about Zumthor getting the prize months back ....

Apr 12, 09 10:37 am  · 

I hope he still keeps turning down crappy commissions now that he's a starchitect.

Apr 12, 09 10:55 am  · 

that's cool.

no when do we get to postulate on the 2010 winner?

Apr 12, 09 12:30 pm  · 

Libeskind in 2010!

Apr 12, 09 1:36 pm  · 

very happy about this choice. well deserved. libeskind never.

Apr 12, 09 2:05 pm  · 

My comment was sarcastic - as you can tell by my previous posts on this thread.

Zumthor is a fantastic Choice.

Apr 12, 09 2:14 pm  · 

my comments from april 3rd...

"i'm going to say, almost definitively, that this will be zumthor's year. with much of our financial system being revealed as paper thin, with 'real substance' making a strong comeback in the advertising world, his choice would be an affirming move towards how we build for the future.

note that they pulled a similar move in 2002, with murcutt winning just after 9/11. lot of the logic was the same.

yes, it would give the award to europe two years running, but sanna or ito would be a lock next year, after the markets improve."


he's a great architect and i absolutely love his work. the reason he gets it this year vs. sometime in the future: it's the politics of the times...

Apr 12, 09 2:33 pm  · 
liberty bell

You know, I don't really care at all about prizes, but I'm a little choked up that Zumthor won. he stands for just about everything that I think is beautiful and important about good architecture.


Apr 12, 09 3:27 pm  · 
music video from Therme Vals
Apr 12, 09 6:55 pm  · 
Apr 12, 09 8:09 pm  · 

That video reminds me of how much i love French Rap.

Dammson, is that a construction pic of the Kolumba?

Apr 12, 09 8:46 pm  · 

Apurimac, looks like.
Fulcrum i was just coming to post that.
It is awesome..

Apr 12, 09 10:29 pm  · 

apurimac, yes

speaking of materials, the masonry, as individual units, looks unimpressive...junky almost. but as an array? hotness...

Apr 12, 09 10:47 pm  · 

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