it's that pritzker time of year again....


yipes- the announcement is tomorrow (sunday)!

any thoughts, predictions, wild assumptions???

here's a juicy bit from FAST COMPANY: Although everyone would love an underdog to snatch architecture's top prize--a large contingency is calling for Architecture for Humanity's socially-focused founder Cameron Sinclair to win.

without reading anyone else's short list, i'd think the following is likely to be true: it's not going to a european. probably not to an american (thom mayne's is just 2 years old), but steven holl seems way, way past due. a south american could be a possibility, but i don't know who would really qualify from that region (yet). seems like there's lots of talent in japan that is long overdue.

in this time of relative austerity, i don't think they go for an overly intellectualized practice (along the lines of libeskind or eisenman. besides, peter gets his when the santiago project is finished).

so, of the legit contenders, i get: steven holl, toyo ito, sanaa.

i'm going to say that, definitively, toyo ito wins this year.

(of course, if anyone were to look at my ncaa bracket this year, they wouldn't believe a word i'm saying).

Mar 27, 10 9:34 am

Sanaa will deserve it in a few years, and while Steven has a fantastic body of work and has made a great contribution to practice, I really believe Toyo Ito has an incredible body of very experimental work, much that isn't widely publicized. It would be a shame if he didn't win.

But I also think Ricardo Scofidio (and by extension Liz, she hasn't been in the architecture world as long, but hey they're a package deal) has been working a very long time and could use some pritzker recognition as well.

Mar 27, 10 11:20 am  · 

Yes, Holl and Ito are possibilities; Sanaa in due time. Cameron Sinclair would be an interesting choice, and an apposite one given the recent natural disasters in Haiti and Chile. If the committee is attempting to highlight the importance of "'good' design for the underprivileged" (or whatever you choose to call it), then Shigeru Ban may also be under consideration.

Dare I add David Chipperfield to this list?

Mar 27, 10 1:21 pm  · 

is there a rule stating you cannot choose architects within the same continent in consecutive years? shigeru ban or toyo ito seem likely.

Mar 27, 10 2:09 pm  · 

I have been rooting for sanaa for years now and I shudder to think toyo ito is probably going to get it before them.

Mar 27, 10 2:21 pm  · 
is there a rule stating you cannot choose architects within the same continent in consecutive years?

yes - and I think it'll be someone from antarctica this year.

Mar 27, 10 3:04 pm  · 

there's no 'rules' to the pritzker per se, but, generally speaking, the last decade or so has seen them try to avoid loading up talents from a particular location.

as much as i love david chipperfield's work, i just don't think he's going to win. ever.

Mar 27, 10 3:16 pm  · 
Distant Unicorn

Sean Griffiths from FAT.

Mar 27, 10 3:51 pm  · 

2010 - ito
2011 - holl
2012 - cameron
2013 - sanaa

Mar 27, 10 4:19 pm  · 

sameold's list seems good to me.

I can't believe Holl hasn't gotten it yet (and Linked Hybrid puts him up there with a big international project), but even moreso I can't believe Toyo Ito doesn't have one!

Mar 27, 10 4:21 pm  · 

I agree, this year is to Toyo Ito

Mar 27, 10 5:19 pm  · 

i'm narrowing it down to spain...

Mar 27, 10 6:32 pm  · 

yeah, for me, ito and holl are both overdue. both have done some really interesting, larger scale work in the past few years (holl with the linked hybrid, ito with sendai), so you could make an argument for either one. i just think they've got to go back to japan - it's been 15 years since ando won.

sanaa's a brilliant firm with some defining work, but i just don't see them there quite ahead of the either two.

cameron.... can't see that happening. look, this award isn't about pure ideas as much as it's about buildings. if ideas alone would get you there, then eisenman (or colin rowe, or...) would have won ages ago....

Mar 27, 10 7:14 pm  · 

steven holl or toyo ito are my first guesses.

Mar 27, 10 7:21 pm  · 

i love cameron, and i love what he does, but afh is a conduit for architectural work by others - it's not cameron's own architectural work. i think that would be a stretch, too. i have to believe that 'authorship' would be an issue for any pritzker jury.

...and cameron's just too darn young anyway.

Mar 28, 10 7:41 am  · 
Distant Unicorn

"cameron's just too darn young anyway." ... you do realize that's basically illegal to say?

Mar 28, 10 10:31 am  · 

I think it's time for another 'surprise' a-la Murcutt or Rocha... and how about Charles Correa?

Mar 28, 10 11:56 am  · 

Man, Holl deserves it! I'm sort of puzzled that he hasn't received it yet....

Mar 28, 10 12:17 pm  · 

handicapped the prize:

The Frontrunner: Steven Holl
The Experimental Duo: Elizabeth Diller & Ricardo Scofidio
The Sustainable Choice: Shigeru Ban
The Crafty Duo: Kazuyo Sejima & Ryue Nishizawa
The Odd Angle: Daniel Libeskind
The Wildcard: Toyo Ito

Mar 28, 10 1:17 pm  · 

SANAA Wins it....


Mar 28, 10 1:51 pm  · 

Incidentally, only the second time that a woman has won in 31 years (Zaha being the first) and only the second time that a firm or partnership has won rather than an individual (Herzog & De Meuron being the first.)

These are both very interesting facts for our profession. Women are on the rise, as are partnerships. The idea of an architect as a solitary male genius seems to be fading a bit....

Mar 28, 10 1:53 pm  · 

wow. gotta say, i love their body of work, but i don't think they are who they are without ito paving the way.

i think ito's now the odd man out. holl is certainly the favorite for next year. they won't go back to japan 2 years in a row....

Mar 28, 10 2:56 pm  · 

Or they'll pick some relative unknown from a far flung country, as they did with Glenn Murcutt, Sverre Fehn, and Mendes da Rocha.

Mar 28, 10 3:02 pm  · 
Cherith Cutestory


Mar 28, 10 4:27 pm  · 

Holl got snubbed again... I've been itching him for the win the last 5 years. What must he do to win??

Mar 28, 10 4:33 pm  · 

steven holl sucks, he's got to be a little more original instead of hopping on that form-finding gravy train he's been on.

Mar 28, 10 4:50 pm  · 


Mar 28, 10 5:30 pm  · 


Mar 28, 10 5:30 pm  · 

yes! finally!
(told you so!)

don't know why people seemed to think they were not ripe fr it.

Mar 28, 10 5:49 pm  · 

fadetoblacko, you're not paying close enough attention to Holl's work if you find him to be solely about form-finding.

SANAA's work is awesome but damn - they seem young and relatively in-crowd to have won already. I'm not at all implying that they aren't deserving, or wouldn't be in a few years.

Mar 28, 10 6:59 pm  · 

SANAA young? I'd rather say well-preserved...

Mar 28, 10 7:16 pm  · 
Carl Douglas (agfa8x)

sanaa is a great pick, but its a little surprising that sejima gets it before ito, given that she came out of his office.

Mar 28, 10 7:19 pm  · 

Yeah, "young" isn't the right word. And neither is my implication that at a few years older they should win. My meaning was, after a few more high-profile projects.

Anyway, I don't mean to be negative. They do awesome work. It's well-deserved and hopefully will net them more high-profile commissions.

I do find it a bit sad, though encouraging, that the prize was able to be given to a partnership this year but not back in 1991 when Robert Venturi wanted it be jointly awarded to himself and Denise Scott Brown but was apparently told he had to accept it solo or not at all. Progressive thinking happens slowly, but surely. I imagine we'll see more awards being given to partners/teams in the coming years.

Mar 28, 10 8:37 pm  · 

have to admit it surprised me too. great for them though. they will hopefully be able to take the win and do more interesting projects now, much as zaha did.

ito has always been outsider. i personally feel he is on track to much more original and influential work than sanaa, but maybe that won't be noticed until he finishes the opera house.

steven holl has never been about form-making. not remotely the case. the opposite is true. i don't know why he doesn't win but guess it is because his work is not that easy to talk about without getting all haptic and that maybe turns the intellectuals off? his built work that i have seen is certianly of better quality than the work i have seen of sejima. less rust to begin with and more comfortable as a human being. but i don't think those are pritzker criteria...

Mar 28, 10 9:17 pm  · 

well, that is a criteria...
unfortunately I've only seen the New Museum of Saana and I know it's probably not their best work.
but the kind of modernism they keep pushing makes me hopeful and happy. You'd think it's dead and they keep resurrecting it. Now, if only they didn't have such a culture of sucking the life of their interns...

Mar 28, 10 9:28 pm  · 

already posted this elsewhere but i still think holl was robbed.

sanaa are just not that accomplished yet, in my mind. hell, they probably bought holl's books in undergrad. as much as i like the rolex project, it doesn't yet seem to me to be a mature work. more like something that's almost there, but still has some clunkiness to work through.

holl has become one of our contemporary masters. passed over after the iowa art school and then the nelson-adkins; linked hybrid, knut hamsen, and the vanke center should have sealed the deal.

i guess my best hope is that the jury decided to wait until the unveiling of the holy grail - the mackintosh school! will be hard for anyone to make a bigger splash than that...

Mar 28, 10 9:51 pm  · 

i'm w/ SW...

although i think his best shot was 2008 after finishing the nelson atkins and swiss ambassador's residence...

Mar 28, 10 10:19 pm  · 

Sorry SW and Holz, but i think you are being seduced by the fact that Holl has completed a number of recent projects in the States (plus China). SANAA have not only just done the Rolex and the New Museum - they have a very large (and expanding) portfolio of built work in Japan and Germany, Netherlands and Spain that is little known in the USA, but is substantial. They have covered all the bases from residential to museums, to corporate to exhibition to public bldgs. they may seem "young" in comparison to Holl (or even Ito) but they have a very large portfolio of built work.

There is always some politics in the Pritzker, in terms of moving it around geographically from year to year, so i think there is reason for Holl to miss out this year.

But i also think you have to look at the degree of inventiveness within the different offices. SANAA's Toledo Glass Museum is quite unique, the Serpentine was a great pavilion, the new Rolex is a very new take on the public institution as part of a campus, the Zollverein a worthy iteration of an office bldg. I certainly don't see the Rolex as being as "clunky" as the MIT housing or even the Linked Hybrid of Holl.

Mar 29, 10 2:42 am  · 

Good points, dlb, and how nice to have a discussion about buildings!

I'll disagree a little: I think "clunky" - and/or chunky, which is what I misread and still think is appropriate - is part of the intent of Simmons Hall and Linked Hybrid - they're not trying to be overly graceful. That brawniness is part of the appeal. By comparison, I think Rolex, while lovely, isn't quite as graceful as it's trying to be.

I'd actually toss the same criticism at Zaha's Innsbruck Station canopies: they're trying to be graceful but look a bit brutal, whereas the CAC by Zaha is gloriously brutal and raw.

SANAA's Serpentine, on the other hand, I think is flawless.

Mar 29, 10 9:32 am  · 

Holl often consciously pursues a Corbusian brutality in his work. He's not necessarily pursuing delicateness—though some of his work achieves it, such as the Philosophy department for NYU.

But in most cases, heaviness is part of the point in his work.

Mar 29, 10 2:06 pm  · 
Cherith Cutestory

Ito: Moshi moshi?
Sejima: Sensei, I am very sorry...
Ito: Why are you calling me?
Sejima: Sensei, about the Pritzker...
Ito: What are you talking about? I've never heard of it.
Sejima: Please don't be mad at me. I didn't ask for it... Not before you get it. I feel terrible.
Ito: You said you were thrilled.
Sejima: That was just press language. I couldn't tell them I was upset, could I? I hope you understand...
Ito: What I don't understand is, that "idea of lightness and transparency" they were talking about... do they know where it came from?
Sejima: I am sorry Sensei, and I thank you for that.
Ito: I still remember the day when you knocked at my door and asked for a job...
Sejima: I was only 25 back then... It's been almost 30 years now.
Ito: How old is that kid you are running around with by the way? Are you still together?
Sejima: He's 44 this year...
Ito: Youngest laureate in the history if Pritzker! I can be his father!
Sejima: Renzo said the committee doesn't take that into consideration.
Ito: Of course he said that. He got it 9 years before poor Rogers did!
Sejima: I know, their ethics are very different... Maybe I should call them and reject the prize...
Ito: No need, kid. If you do that, they will just give it to Holl. You are not doing me any good.
Sejima: Steven must be disappointed. He was leading in the online polls and all...
Ito: I bet he would cry when he reads about the "phenomenal properties" descriptions of your work in the jury citation.
Sejima: I know he started the phenomena thing...
Ito: Well, I guess they think you "explore like few others," - better than both of us two old men.
Sejima: Sensei, I sincerely apologize. Please accept.
Ito: Well... Daijoubu, kiddo. As long as you are really feeling sorry...
(Nishizawa in the background: Honey, cut it off! Sake is ready!)

Human's Scribbles

Mar 29, 10 5:22 pm  · 

.._. --... loved your last post!

Mar 29, 10 5:32 pm  · 

actually...i bet Danny is also waiting for his pritzker every year - i think Toyo should've gotten it this year - Holl is getting it next year...

also, on being a relatively young and recently "stablished" office, the Pritzker has made clear that is irrelevant, ever since Zaha won hers on a handful of built, that was 6 years ago!?

Mar 29, 10 5:37 pm  · 

@DLD: I know that Sanaa built quite a bit in Japan, nad even though I am not completely aware of everything they did in Spain, I feel pretty safe to say that, thus far, they only did one building in Germany (Zollverein School of Management Essen), and one in the Netherlands (Kunstlinie Almere). And as pleasant as both buildings might be, this doesn't add up to a "large portfolio of built work" to me...

Mar 29, 10 7:03 pm  · 

The significant wager is going to be on when will Bjarke Ingels get his Pritzker - I'm predicting 2017. Man, that guy rocks.

Mar 30, 10 12:43 am  · 

The following is a partial list of "built" works by Sejima/Nishizawa/SANAA:

Women's Dormitory; Kumamoto
Casa-Y; Katsuura
Forest Villa; Chino
Police Box; Tokyo
Apartment Bldg; Gifu
U-Bldg; Ushiku
Small House; Aoyama; Tokyo
Plum Grove House; Tokyo
Asahi Shimbun House; Yamagata
Kozanikaku High School; Ibaraki
Multi-media Workshop; Gifu
N-Museum; Nakahechi
Casa-S; Okayama
Casa-M; Tokyo
K-Bldg; Hitachi
Park Café; Koga
O-Museum; Iida
Elders Day Care Centre; Yokohama
Kunstline Theatre and Cultural Centre; Almere
21st C. Museum of Contemporary Art; Kanazawa
Toledo Museum, Glass Pavilion; Toledo
Christian Dior Bldg; Tokyo
Zollverien School of Management; Essen
New Museum; New York
Novartis Office Bldg; Basle
Serpentine Pavilion; London
Louvre Museum; Lens
Naoshima Ferry Terminal; Kagawa
Institute Valencia Art Museum; Valencia

i don't know about you, but i wouldn't call that a "small" portfolio of built works".

Mar 30, 10 3:49 am  · 

i hear you dlb, and i'm sure that there are many projects of theirs about which i haven't yet heard. but i'm also sure the same is true of holl. so you've listed 30+/- projects. i'm betting holl had that many built works before 1985...

and the point isn't that their built work needs to be substantial. as noted above, zaha hadn't built much by the time she was given the award. but what she had done was establish a direction, mature that direction, and then let it evolve through several transitions. by the time she had done the cac, she was in a different place than where she started.

i haven't seen that evolution from sanaa yet. i've seen a few iterations that come from a very similar vision of things. they haven't had to question themselves yet - at least it doesn't appear so. i love their work and look forward to seeing how it develops over the next couple of decade(s). it should get better and better - eventually warranting a laureate recognition. i guess that was my point at 03/28/10 18:51.

but i'm sounding like sour grapes now. i don't resent that they got it, i think it's pretty amazing and should be a huge boost to the development of their careers and work. holl's now in the mature part of his career where he doesn't need such recognition. but if holl had received the award 5, 10, or even 15 yrs ago, i'd feel much better about it.

Mar 30, 10 7:33 am  · 

I've been noticing in the comments of a lot of non-architecture websites that most people are saying things about SANAA like: "we get it. It's white. It's simple. Now move on."

While I do love their work, it seems to be architects' architecture. If you're approaching it as a layperson, it appears very repetitive and almost bland, I think. (One may not understand the elegance of the details or the idea of diagram architecture, etc.) They fit in with a Japanese tradition of simplicity, spareness and even cuteness that may not translate to the Western public.

I will say that Holl's body of work is much more varied. It would be a shame if he never won a Pritzker.

Mar 30, 10 8:25 am  · 

i think the pritzker is shifting from a prize recognizing a lifetime of achievement in architecture towards recognizing achievement in architecture as well - zaha (or even depotzamparc) being the first to gain that recognition - a shift mendes da rocha to sanaa - i like the mixed bag - that explains ito or holl having to wait to get theirs -

with that being sad, i have a feeling pritzker will go BIG way before 2017 - i am thinking 2014! (making Bjarke Ingells 39 years old at the time! damn he is young!)

Mar 30, 10 12:23 pm  · 

not that it matters, only that it is fascinating:

according to steve holl himself his first built work was in 1981, a poolhouse. there were a few other small projects after that but he didn't really get going until the 90's, nearly 20 years after starting his office.

in interview he says he spent his first decade as architect learning to teach because he decided he didn't want to learn to be a mediocre architect and that meant he would have no real work. so actually not a lot of built work for him either.

most of those sejima projects are houses. but she and ryue were learning a lot by doing them, clearly.

isn't the idea of pritzker to be somehow a measurement of influence and impact on the architecture community? In that respect sejima is probably ahead of steven if only because her work is more about generic method than personal style and so easier to take up as a student and young practitioner. steven holl may be stuck because he is a master of his own house and while he works with others they are his apprentices not his equals no matter what. when he is gone so is his office. maybe that is not the case with sanaa...?

i love the work of BIG but doubt they will win pritzker for any of their work built or unbuilt yet. the office is still maturing. wait 15 more years and then i think we will be really impressed.

Mar 30, 10 8:01 pm  · 

jump, that link to BIG was from your blog, BTW.

Mar 30, 10 8:11 pm  · 

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