California Architect Thom Mayne Becomes the 2005 Pritzker Architecture Prize Laureate

Thom Mayne, who founded his firm Morphosis to surpass the bounds of traditional forms and materials, while also working to carve out a territory beyond the limits of modernism and postmodernism, has been chosen as the 2005 Laureate of the Pritzker Architecture Prize. The Pritzker Prize caps a three-decade career in which Mayne has received 54 AIA Awards, some 25 Progressive Architecture Awards, as well as numerous other honours around the world. The 61-year-old architect is the first American Laureate in 14 years.

Mayne’s most recent built works to capture major media attention include the Caltrans District 7 Headquarters and the Science Education Resource Center / Science Center School, both completed in 2004 in Los Angeles.

Mayne has numerous other Southern California landmarks: the Diamond Ranch High School in Pomona, two Salick Medical Office buildings on Beverly Boulevard in Los Angeles, and several distinctive private residences. Mayne is also currently working on the Cahill Center for Astrophysics at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, California. Nationally, Mayne is completing three projects of major importance for the United States General Services Administration’s Design Excellence program including a Federal Office Building in San Francisco, California, the Wayne L. Morse United States Courthouse in Eugene, Oregon, and the NOAA Satellite Operation Control Facility in Suitland, Maryland.

Two major competitions in New York City were also recently awarded to his firm: the New Academic Building for The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art; and the NYC2012 Olympic Village, a project in association with NYC’s bid for the 2012 Olympics.

His most recent commission, granted just this month as the result of a winning competition design is for the new Alaska State Capitol building to be constructed in Juneau, Alaska. On the world stage, he has the Hypo Alpe-Adria Center in Klagenfurt, Austria; the ASE Design Center in Taipei, Taiwan; the Sun Tower in Seoul, South Korea; and a Social Housing project slated for completion next year in Madrid, Spain.

Throughout his career, Mayne has remained active in the academic world. He currently holds a tenured professorship at the University of California in Los Angeles and is a founder of the influential and progressive Southern California Institute of Architecture. He has been a visiting professor and/or lecturer at institutions and universities around the world.

In announcing the jury’s choice, Thomas J. Pritzker, president of The Hyatt Foundation, said, "When this prize was founded in 1979, Thom Mayne had just received his Master of Architecture degree from Harvard the year before. The intervening years have seen 28 Laureates chosen. Thom Mayne is the 29th, and only the eighth American to be so honoured."

The formal ceremony for what has come to be known throughout the world as architecture’s highest honour will be held on May 31, 2005 in Chicago’s Millennium Park in the Jay Pritzker Pavilion, a structure named for the founder of the prize and designed by juror and 1989 Pritzker Laureate, Frank Gehry. At that time, a $100,000 grant and a bronze medallion will be bestowed.

The purpose of the Pritzker Architecture Prize is to honor annually a living architect whose built work demonstrates a combination of those qualities of talent, vision and commitment, which has produced consistent and significant contributions to humanity and the built environment through the art of architecture.

The distinguished jury that selected Mayne as the 2005 Laureate consists of its chairman, Lord Palumbo, chairman of the Serpentine Gallery Trustees, former chairman of the Arts Council of Great Britain and well known as an art and architectural patron; and alphabetically: Balkrishna Vithaldas Doshi, Architect, Planner and Professor of Architecture of Ahmedabad, India; Rolf Fehlbaum, chairman of Vitra, Basel, Switzerland; Frank Gehry, architect and 1989 Pritzker Laureate; Ada Louise Huxtable, author and architectural critic of New York; Carlos Jimenez, professor at Rice University School of Architecture, and principal, Carlos Jimenez Studio in Houston, Texas; Victoria Newhouse, architectural historian and author who founded and is the director of the Architectural History Foundation in New York; and Karen Stein, editorial director of Phaidon Press in New York.

The prize presentation ceremony moves to different locations around the world each year, paying homage to historic and contemporary architecture. Last year, the ceremony was held in the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia. The year before in Madrid, Spain in the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando. Michelangelo’s Campidoglio in Rome, Italy was the location in 2000. In 2002, Thomas Jefferson’s home, Monticello, in Charlottesville, Virginia was the venue. In 2000, the ceremony was held in Jerusalem in the Archaeological Park surrounding the Dome of the Rock.

The late Philip Johnson was the first Pritzker Laureate in 1979. The late Luis Barragn of Mexico was named in 1980. The late James Stirling of Great Britain was elected in 1981, Kevin Roche in 1982, Ieoh Ming Pei in 1983, and Richard Meier in 1984. Hans Hollein of Austria was the 1985 Laureate. Gottfried Bhm of Germany received the prize in 1986. Kenzo Tange was the first Japanese architect to receive the prize in 1987; Fumihiko Maki was the second from Japan in 1993; and Tadao Ando the third in 1995. Robert Venturi received the honor in 1991, and Alvaro Siza of Portugal in 1992. Christian de Portzamparc of France was elected Pritzker Laureate in 1994. The late Gordon Bunshaft of the United States and Oscar Niemeyer of Brazil, were named in 1988. Frank Gehry was the recipient in 1989, the late Aldo Rossi of Italy in 1990. In 1996, Rafael Moneo of Spain was the Laureate; in 1997 Sverre Fehn of Norway; in 1998 Renzo Piano of Italy, in 1999 Sir Norman Foster of the UK, and in 2000, Rem Koolhaas of the Netherlands. In 2001, two architects from Switzerland received the honour: Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron. The 2002 laureate was Australian Glenn Murcutt. In 2003, Jrn Utzon of Denmark was chosen and last year, the first woman to be selected was Zaha Hadid of the UK.

The field of architecture was chosen by the Pritzker family because of their keen interest in building due to their involvement with developing the Hyatt Hotels around the world; also because architecture was a creative endeavor not included in the Nobel Prizes. The procedures were modeled after the Nobels, with the final selection being made by the international jury with all deliberations and voting in secret. Nominations are continuous from year to year with hundreds ofnominees from countries all around the world being considered each year.