The 2018 edition of the Pritzker Prize marks the 40th anniversary of the esteemed architectural accolade
It may be the most coveted gong in architecture, but the Pritzker Architecture Prize has courted some controversy since its 1979 inception by Hyatt co-founder Jay A Pritzker and his wife Cindy. It wasn't until 2004 that the prize bestowed the revered bronze medallion and US$100,000 on its first female winner, Zaha Hadid.
It has also been criticised for failing to acknowledge collaborative works, with claims that architects Denise Scott Brown and Lu Wenyu's contributions were overlooked when their spouses Robert Venturi and Wang Shu won in 1991 and 2012 respectively.
Last year's winners, Spain's RCR Arquitectes, proved the Pritzker panel is capable of taking a different approach. The firm was founded by Rafael Aranda, Carme Pigem and Ramon Vilalta in 1988, and it is the first time a trio has won the prize.
Each share equal responsibility for their work, which was singled out for its commitment to place and its narrative. Martha Thorne, executive director of the prize and dean of the IE School of Architecture and Design in Madrid, says, "It was a very smart and bold choice by the jury and they wanted to recognise their unique way of working together.”
Everyone connected with the prize remains typically tight-lipped on the subject of nominations, but the announcement of 2012 laureate Wang Shu and Brazilian ambassador to Japan André Corrêa do Lago as the newest members of the nine-member jury reflect the prize's international outlook.
Pritzker Prize 2018: Who’s next?
Given Corrêa's background and interest, perhaps he will favour Kengo Kuma for the prize. The Japanese architect's goal to revive and reinterpret the country's traditional buildings has met with much critical acclaim. Wang, on the other hand, may choose to champion the works of a young architectural firm, such as Ma Yansong's MAD Architects. One of its most striking buildings to date is the Harbin Opera House, a snow-white structure that reflects the northeastern Chinese city's wilderness setting and frigid climate. 2015 AIA Gold Medal winner, 79-year old Moshe Safdie, whose portfolio includes everything from Singapore's Marina Bay Sands to the National Gallery of Canada, also has a shot at the prize.
The 2018 laureate – or perhaps laureates – of the Pritzker Prize will be announced in March 2018, followed by a ceremony in the northern spring.
This is an excerpt from “Primed for Pritzker", an article from the January/February issue of Perspective magazine.
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