Venice Biennale curator Alejandro Aravena wins Pritzker Prize

AravenaAlejandro_Chile

Alejandro Aravena of Chile has been selected as the 2016 Pritzker Architecture Prize Laureate.

The formal award ceremony for what has come to be known internationally as architecture’s highest honor will be at United Nations Headquarters in New York on April 4, 2016.

The 48-year-old Aravena is an architect based in Santiago, Chile. He becomes the 41st laureate of the Pritzker Prize, the first Pritzker Laureate from Chile, and the fourth from Latin America, after Luis Barragán (1980), Oscar Niemeyer (1988), and Paulo Mendes da Rocha (2006).

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He is also the director of the Venice Architecture Biennale 2016, titled “Reporting from the Front,” set to open in May 2016.

Tom  Pritzker, chairman and president of the Hyatt Foundation which sponsors the prize, said, “The jury has selected an architect who deepens our understanding of what is truly great design.

“Alejandro Aravena has pioneered a collaborative practice that produces powerful works of architecture and also addresses key challenges of the 21st century. His built work gives economic opportunity to the less privileged, mitigates the effects of natural disasters, reduces energy consumption, and provides welcoming public space. Innovative and inspiring, he shows how architecture at its best can improve people’s lives.”

Aravena has completed buildings at the Universidad Católica de Chile in Santiago, including the UC Innovation Center – Anacleto Angelini (2014), the Siamese Towers (2005), Medical School (2004), School of Architecture (2004), and the Mathematics School (1999).

These energy-efficient structures respond to the local climate with innovative, efficient facades and floor plans and offer the users natural light and convivial meeting places.

Currently under construction in Shanghai, China, is an office building for healthcare company Novartis, with office spaces designed to accommodate different modes of work — individual, collective, formal and informal. In the United States, Aravena has built St. Edward’s University Dorms (2008) in Austin, Texas.

Aravena emailed the foundation saying: “Looking backwards, we feel deeply thankful. No achievement is individual. Architecture is a collective discipline. So we think, with gratitude, of all the people who contributed to give form to a huge diversity of forces at play. Looking into the future we anticipate Freedom!

“The prestige, the reach, the gravitas of the prize is such that we hope to use its momentum to explore new territories, face new challenges, and walk into new fields of action.

“After such a peak, the path is unwritten. So our plan is not to have a plan, face the uncertain, be open to the unexpected. Finally, looking at the present, we are just overwhelmed, ecstatic, happy. It’s time to celebrate and share our joy with as many people as possible.”

The 2016 Pritzker Architecture Prize Jury Citation states in part: “Alejandro Aravena has delivered works of architectural excellence in the fields of private, public and educational commissions both in his home country and abroad…. He has undertaken projects of different scales from single-family houses to large institutional buildings…. He understands materials and construction, but also the importance of poetry and the power of architecture to communicate on many levels.”

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