In 2014, Shigeru Ban was awarded the prestigious Pritzker Prize. The Nobel Prize for Architecture, so to speak. The jury lauded him for his philanthropic and socio-ethical views as an architect, and they praised his broad and creative view of architecture, his experimental approach and his innovative take on sustainability and ecology.
What is the Pritzker Prize?
For filmmakers and actors, the Oscar is the highest good. For writers and poets, it is the Nobel Prize for literature or the Booker Prize. Journalists dream of a Pulitzer and musicians dream of a Grammy Award or – in our country – an MIA. The highest recognition you can get as an architect? That’s the Pritzker Prize.
The Pritzker Prize is named after US businessman Jay A. Pritzker, who first presented the award in 1979 through his Hyatt Foundation. Although many architecture awards are given worldwide, it is still the Pritzker Prize that is considered the most prestigious recognition. You could call it the Nobel Prize for architecture. Linked to the recognition is a prize money of US$100,000 and a unique bronze medal.
Over the years, the prize has been awarded to some of the best-known and outstanding architects still living. Frank Gehry, Rem Koolhaas, Renzo Piano, Richard Rogers, Zaha Hadid, Oscar Niemeyer, Peter Zumthor, Shigeru Ban: all buzzing names that colour the Pritzker Prize honours list. Only once was the award presented posthumously: in 2015, the organisation lauded German Frei Otto, barely two months after his death.
Fun fact for architecture lovers: currently only four Pritzker winners have a building in our country. Eduardo Souto De Moura (Beurs- en Congresgebouw in Bruges), Àlvaro Siza (Oudenburg farmhouse), Zaha Hadid (Antwerp Harbour House) and Richard Rogers (the Butterfly Palace). Soon, with Shigeru Ban, there will be a fifth laureate to admire.