2009 Marcus Prize for Architecture goes to Alejandro Aravena of Santiago, Chile

Alejandro Aravena, Executive Director of Elemental S.A., Santiago, Chile, has been chosen as the 2009 recipient of the Marcus Prize for Architecture.

The Marcus Prize for Architecture is a $100,000 prize funded by the Marcus Corporation Foundation and administered through the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee School of Architecture and Urban Planning to recognize emerging talent in architecture worldwide. The Marcus Prize provides a $50,000 award to the winner and a further $50,000 to the school to run the competition and bring Aravena to Milwaukee to lead a design studio.

During the spring 2010 semester (January through May 2010), Alejandro Aravena will make scheduled visits to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s School of Architecture and Urban Planning, focusing a graduate studio on specific challenges in architecture that inspire enduring benefits to Milwaukee’s urban fabric. Aravena will also be invited to participate in public workshops and lectures.

Aravena’s firm, a self-described “Do Tank,” is affiliated with COPEC, a Chilean oil company and the Universidad Católica de Chile. The affiliation has a social/political agenda and considers architecture a source for building social equity. His work includes the Mathematics Faculty, the Medical Faculty, the Siamese Tower and the Architecture School for the Universidad Católica, dorm facilities for St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas, new children workshops and training facilities for Vitra in Weil am Rhein, Germany. From 2000-2005, Aravena was Visiting Professor at Harvard GSD. Currently, he is professor at the Universidad Católica (since 1994) and Elemental COPEC Professor at the UC (since 2006). In 2009, Aravena was appointed a member of the Pritzker Prize Jury.

 On May 26, 2009, a five-person jury convened in Milwaukee to select among the 40 international nominees drawn from 18 countries, the largest ever pool of nominees for the prize. The jury, comprised of Reed Kroloff, Director of the Cranbrook Academy of Art and Museum (Michigan) and former editor of Architecture magazine (New York); Laurie Hawkinson, Principal of Smith-Miller + Hawkinson Architects, and Director of the Advanced Studios at the GSAPP, Columbia University (New York); Michael Manser, CBE, founder of the Manser Practice Architects and Past President of the Royal Institute of British Architects (UK); Robert Greenstreet, Dean, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee School of Architecture and Urban Planning (Wisconsin); and Steve Marcus, CEO, the Marcus Corporation Foundation (Wisconsin) reviewed the portfolios, CVs and work statements of each nominee before unanimously selecting Aravena to receive the Marcus Prize.

The nominees are all practicing architects who were nominated by one or more of a select international committee of nominators. According to Robert Greenstreet, “The jury laboured long and hard with the outstanding pool of candidates drawn from across the world. After much careful consideration, they selected Alejandro Aravena because of his remarkable commitment to a socially driven agenda combined with an almost lyrical appreciation of architectural craft and form. There was unanimous agreement that Alejandro is on a trajectory to greatness — exactly the kind of architect the Marcus Prize seeks to identify.”

The first Marcus Prize (2005) was awarded to MVRDV, Rotterdam, and the second (2007) to Barkow + Leibinger Architects, Berlin. Work from the Marcus Prize Studios has to date been published in the book Skycar City by Aktar, Barcelona, has been displayed at the 2008 Venice Biennale and recently has won a design award for an environmental pavilion designed and built by UWM students in Milwaukee.

The Marcus Corporation Foundation is the philanthropic arm of the Marcus Corporation, a lodging and entertainment company headquartered in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The Marcus Prize is part of the Marcus family’s ongoing commitment to support the growth and development of the practice of architecture in Milwaukee.