SANAA named the 2010 Pritzker Architecture Prize Laureates

Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa, partners in the architectural firm SANAA, have been chosen as the 2010 Laureates of the Pritzker Architecture Prize.


The formal ceremony for what has come to be known throughout the world as architecture’s highest honour will be held on May 17, 2010 on historic Ellis Island in New York. At that time, a $100,000 grant and bronze medallions will be bestowed on the two architects.


In announcing the jury’s choice, Thomas J. Pritzker, chairman of The Hyatt Foundation, elaborated, “This marks the third time in the history of the prize that two architects have been named in the same year. The first was in 1988 when Oscar Niemeyer of Brazil and the late Gordon Bunshaft were so honoured, and the second was in 2001, when Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron, partners in a Swiss firm, were selected.”


He continued, “Japanese architects have been chosen three times in the 30-year history of the Pritzker Architecture Prize — the first was the late Kenzo Tange in 1987, then in 1993, Fumihiko Maki was selected, and in 1995, Tadao Ando was the honouree.”


The purpose of the Pritzker Architecture Prize is to honour 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.


Pritzker Prize jury chairman Lord Palumbo quoted from the jury citation to focus on this year’s selection: “For architecture that is simultaneously delicate and powerful, precise and fluid, ingenious but not overly or overtly clever; for the creation of buildings that successfully interact with their contexts and the activities they contain, creating a sense of fullness and experiential richness; for a singular architectural language that springs from a collaborative process that is both unique and inspirational; for their notable completed buildings and the promise of new projects together, Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa are the recipients of the 2010 Pritzker Architecture Prize.”


While most of their work is in Japan, Sejima and Nishizawa have designed projects in Germany, England, Spain, France, the Netherlands and the United States, under their combined name SANAA. The first SANAA project in the United States began construction in 2004 in Ohio – a Glass Pavilion for the Toledo Museum of Art. Completed in 2006, it houses the museum’s vast collection of glass artworks, reflecting the city’s history when it was a major centre of glass production. While that building was still under construction, the New Museum of New York City broke ground in 2005 at 235 Bowery. Completed in 2007, the building has been described as “a sculptural stack of rectilinear boxes dynamically shifted off-axis around a central steel core.”


The distinguished jury that selected the 2010 Laureates consists of its chairman, Lord Palumbo, internationally known architectural patron of London, chairman of the trustees, Serpentine Gallery, former chairman of the Arts Council of Great Britain, former chairman of the Tate Gallery Foundation and former trustee of the Mies van der Rohe Archive at New York’s Museum of Modern Art, along with: Alejandro Aravena, architect and executive director of Elemental, Santiago, Chile; Rolf Fehlbaum, chairman of the board of Vitra, Basel, Switzerland; Carlos Jimenez, professor at the Rice University School of Architecture and principal of Carlos Jimenez Studio, Houston, Texas; Juhani Pallasmaa, architect, professor and author, Helsinki, Finland; Renzo Piano, architect and Pritzker Laureate, Paris, France and Genoa, Italy; and Karen Stein, writer, editor and architectural consultant, New York. Martha Thorne, associate dean for external relations, IE School of Architecture, Madrid, Spain, who is executive director of the prize, augmented the jury citation, saying, “The architecture of Sejima and Nishizawa explores the ideas of lightness and transparency and pushes the boundaries of these concepts to new extremes.”


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