Architecture is a world-wide, hyper-connected, and, above else, an extremely competitive career choice. Getting seen is hard when there are thousands of creators all around the globe striving for the same outcome and projects as you. However, there are a few qualifications that can set a professional apart from the rest. Courses, activities, internships, all help you stand out, but there is nothing quite like the renown that competition or prize can provide. And since we, at the Rethinking the Future Community, believe in excellence, here are the five awards for architects that are the biggest accolades existent in the architectural universe:
5. Prix Versailles
The Prix Versailles makes this list as the rising star, a symbol of newer Awards that are being created in recent years. Originated in 2015, although it´s the youngest in our list, the Prix is widely regarded for its connection with UNESCO, whose headquarters are used to present winners every year. Its seven categories and hundreds of different winners for various nations serve as a mirror of architecture’s ever more global and widespread qualities, ranging in most of the projectual subjects we see in today’s practice and tendencies. Even though the Prix Versailles is smaller than the Aga Khan Prize, we chose to include a newcomer in this list instead of the Aga Khan, which recognizes projects for the Islamic community. This award, however, is definitely one of the biggest in the world and should be known by every architect.
4. UIA Gold Medal
Since 1984, the official International Union of Architects rewards personalities and groups that are distinguished as worldwide influences in the architectural prize. The UIA is the world’s biggest architecture association and is regarded by many United Nations Organs as the only global association for professionals in said area. It convenes the World Congress of Architects every three years, each organized by a UIA member section that has competed for the honor, and in 2020 it will be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Former winners include Renzo Piano, Álvaro Siza Vieira, and Tadao Ando, meaning that winning such an award is getting worldwide recognition of your work as a course definer in our practice: it is awarded to living professionals, and the Council wishes to give it the same value as the Nobel Prize for Arts, Science, and Peace.
3. AIA Gold Medal
The Gold Medal is the highest award of the American Institute of Architecture, given annually to “significant bodies of work” that drive architecture forward. Even if it’s organized by the AIA, this accolade is international, received first by Sir Aston Webb (U.K.) in 1947. One of the most prestigious prizes since then, some of the American architecture’s giants have won it, such as Frank Lloyd Wright and Frank Gehry, besides other famous winners, Calatrava, Piano, and many others.
2. RIBA Gold Medal
The Royal Institute of British Architects awards, since the nineteenth century, is in recognition of an individual’s or group’s contribution to international architecture. It is given for a distinguished body of work rather than for one building. Its first winner was Charles Robert Cockerell in 1847, and the winner’s list is a true history lesson: from Viollet-le-Duc to Gröpius and Buckminster Fuller, the list provides us with a pathway of architectural innovations and lines of thought in the last centuries. The RIBA Gold Medal is perhaps the most traditional award given today, and the Institute also provides other famous awards, such as the President’s Medal, which is an award for students and recent graduates.
1. Pritzker Award
Known popularly as the Oscars or the Nobel of Architecture, the Pritzker Award is by far the most recognizable, popular, and influential Award an architect can dream of since 1979. Funded by the Pritzker family and sponsored by the Hyatt Foundation, the prize is said to be awarded “irrespective of nationality, race, creed, or ideology”. The first person recognized was Philip Johnson, and other winners are Oscar Niemeyer, Zaha Hadid, and Peter Zumthor. To be honest, these are only a few, since every single one to win the Pritzker has been pivotal to architecture: the list of winners can be seen, in fact, as a list of the career’s most brilliant creators ever.