The Pritzker Architecture Prize is the highest honor in the field of Architecture, it offers notability and prestige to the Pritzker prize winners and their work which render the qualities such as talent, vision, and commitment, which adds value for the users, society, and sets the design apart bestowing upon their contributions to humanity and the built environment through their caliber.

The Pritzker Prize was initiated by Jay and Cindy Pritzker, who believed that a meaningful prize would encourage architects to contribute to the betterment of humanity inspiring greater creativity within the architecture profession

Famous Architects who have been granted this honor are:

1. Zaha Hadid | Pritzker Prize Winners

Zaha Hadid had changed the way one looked at architecture. She introduced curves and slopes into her designs. She had failed in the initial days of her life due to her ingenious ideas, which were later appreciated by the world. 

She was the Pritzker prize winner for the Contemporary art center constructed in Cincinnati, Ohio in 2004.

It was Zaha Hadid’s first architectural project and as said by the Architecture critic, Herbert Muschamp “It was the most important building since the American cold war.” It is a highly appreciated building because it’s the exclusive use of materials and structural integrity. 

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Image 1 – Zaha Hadid ©

2. Philip Johnson 

Phillip Johnson was the first Pritzker prize winner for the Glass House. It was also declared that the prize was for his “for 50 years of imagination and vitality embodied in a myriad of museums, theaters, libraries, houses, gardens and corporate structures”. The Glass House was a derivative from the work of Mies Van Der Rohe’s Farnsworth House which was an iconic project for the emergence of Modern Architecture. 

The Glass House takes care of the user, minimal structure, modern materials, and the effect of transparency and reflection.

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Glass House ©
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Philip Johnson ©

3. Frank O Gehry | Pritzker Prize Winners

Frank O Gehry won the Pritzker Prize in 2003 for his creative ideation at the Disney Concert Hall

His work was mainly focused on a certain style known as deconstructive architecture. When you observe his design, it seems that he plays with the buildings, where they could be sculptural built focused on internal spaces. He embarked upon this journey by designing his residence in Santa Monica and gave the world some masterpieces such as the Dancing House, Guggenheim Museum, etc. 

Disney Concert hall was constructed in 2003, while Gehry says he envisioned Disney Concert Hall in stone, making the facade glow at night though the clients were besotted with the metal facade inspired by the Bilbao museum and thus, it took place. Though, it didn’t stop him from winning the honorable award.  

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Disney Concert Hall ©

4. B.V Doshi 

It made all Indian Architects proud, overwhelmed with joy when B.V Doshi received the prestigious award. He is the first Indian Architect who got honored with the Pritzker Prize in 2018 for the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore. He served as the jury for the Pritzker Prize from 2005-2009. His journey started with an unpaid job with Le Corbusier, who was deeply involved in the design and planning of Chandigarh. 

IIM, Bangalore portrays features such as open corridors, vertical plantation, open spaces making it an interactive campus for the students. The dormitories became angled courtyard buildings linked together by walkways and verandahs. Ar. Doshi took the privilege of modern construction techniques and local masonry. 

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B. V. Doshi ©
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IIM, Bangalore ©
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5. Robert Venturi | Pritzker Prize Winners

The one who contradicted Mies Van Der Rohe by saying “Less is Bore” is how he is introduced to each architecture student. He was the Pritzker prize winner, 1991. He received the honor for the National Gallery which is in the city of Westminster, Central London. 

He revamped his own house in a deconstructive model in the initial stages of his journey and experiments. The National Gallery extension was a competition that was won by Robert Venturi and the team, facing the challenge of continuing it with the existing building but separating its identity. The building has an uneven rhythm but inflicts with the existing building. The zoom entrance contradicts the classical requirement. It accommodates context and makes it into a facade for the central London plaza.

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National Gallery ©

6. Tadao Ando 

Tadao Ando, a Japanese architect was honored for his most inspiring project, Church of the light, designed in 1989. He won the Pritzker Prize in 1995. Space reeks of heavenly light through a cross, symbolically related to Christianity. It is one of the few examples which say that architecture speaks for itself. 

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Tadao Ando ©

Ando never had professional training from an architecture school but took night classes to learn architecture drawing, drafting, and interior designing. He had worked closely with Frank L. Wright

His style emphasizes the concept of sensation and physical abilities which is inspired by Japanese culture, creating the ‘Haiku’ effect inspired by nothingness. 

7. Norman Foster 

Norman Foster was rewarded with honor for the Millennium Bridge which is also known as the London Millennium bridge. It is a steel suspension bridge used by pedestrians to walk across the river Thames. The structure had a very shallow profile, suspension cables below the deck level.

As observed after the bridge was open for use, the vibration was attributed to an under-researched phenomenon whereby pedestrians crossing a bridge that has a lateral sway have an unconscious tendency to match their footsteps to the sway, exacerbating it.

Normal Foster is also known to be the richest architect, with a specialization in High-Tech Architecture.

Millennium Bridge
Millennium Bridge ©

8. Rem Koolhaas | Pritzker Prize Winners

Rem Koolhaas, an architect from the Netherlands, was the Pritzker Prize Laureate, 2000. He received this honor for Casa Da Musica, Jerusalem Archaeological Park in Porto. 

He, in one of his journals, said that spaces have lost their importance and converted into junkspace without contextualization and cultural reference to the place. Later, he also became an Architecture critic. 

It was the first building designed especially for performing arts and artistic training, inaugurated in 2005. It was called “the most attractive building by Architect Rem Koolhaas” by the New York Times. He was a modernist Architect but knew the distinction between building space and designing a space. 

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Casa Da Musica ©

9. Peter Zumthor 

In 2009, Peter Zumthor was honored with the Pritzker Prize after his contribution in the field of Architecture for almost 40 years. His work has remained unpublished as he is a strong believer that Architecture can only be experienced first hand. Peter Zumthor wrote more about the spaces and user experience. He considered it to be a crucial part of designing. 

He won the Pritzker Prize for 7132 Thermal Baths which is a hotel/spa in Vals in Switzerland

The concept is inspired by the stone quarry’s interpretation into a built space with the difference in transition spaces from small intimate space to grand bathing spaces. 

Peter Zumthor ©
Thermal Baths ©

10. Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara | Pritzker Prize Winners

Recently, We heard about two women Architects’ becoming the Pritzker Prize laureate. It was a misleading statement, where people could have easily said that ‘two architects shared the Pritzker Prize this year’. It shows us that there still exists a face in the industry which gets astonished to see women as leading architects on a project. The project was The Grafton Building of Bocconi University which made the receiver of this honor. Two architects from Ireland making a mark with modern architecture, the building is named after their firm’s name. 

The Grafton Building ©

Ayushi is an architect and an enthusiastic reader and writer. She aspires to step a foot into the world of connecting architecture with writing, initiating with small steps. As said, there is no correct way to follow the dreams, she believes in the process and hustle throughout the journey.