Monday, March 28, 2011

Portuguese architect Souto de Moura wins Pritzker

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Portuguese architect Eduardo Souto de Moura, whose buildings are praised for their careful use of natural materials and their unexpected dashes of color, has won the 2011 Pritzker Architecture Prize, the prize's jury announced Monday.

Souto de Moura, 58, join Frank Gehry, Tadao Ando and Renzo Piano in receiving the top honor in the field. He is recognized for the homes, hotels, museums, sports facilities and other structures he has designed, predominantly in Portugal but also in several other European countries.

"Eduardo Souto de Moura's architecture it is not obvious, frivolous or picturesque. It is imbued with intelligence and seriousness," the Pritzker jurors wrote in their citation. "His work requires an intense encounter, not a quick glance. And like poetry, it is able to communicate emotionally to those who take the time to listen."

In past remarks, Souto de Moura has stressed the importance of designing buildings that modestly perform their function and fit in with their surroundings, on both an immediate and a global level.

"There is no ecological architecture, no intelligent architecture, no sustainable architecture — there is only good architecture," he said at a building forum in 2004. "There are always problems we must not neglect. For example, energy, resources, costs, social aspects — one must always pay attention to all these."

Among the projects mentioned by the Pritzker jury was the sports stadium he built into a mountainside in the city of Braga, Portugal, where the European soccer championship was held in 2004.

Jurors characterized the structure as "muscular, monumental and very much at home within its powerful landscape."

The jury also mentioned Souto de Moura's restoration and adaptation of a convent and monastery complex near the northern Portuguese town of Amares.

The project took the Santa Maria Do Bouro Monastery "from rubble to reinterpretation," the jurors wrote. "Souto de Moura has created spaces that are both consistent with their history and modern in conception."

Souto de Moura, who previously worked for 1992's Pritzker laureate Alvaro Siza, began his career as an independent architect in 1980, after winning a design competition for a culture center in his native city of Porto.

Along with his architecture practice, Souto de Moura is a professor at the University of Oporto, and is a visiting professor at Harvard, as well as several European universities.

The formal Pritzker ceremony will be held June 2 at Washington, D.C.'s Andrew W. Mellon auditorium, itself considered one of the finest classical buildings in the United States. Souto de Moura will receive a $100,000 grant and a bronze medallion.

Souto de Moura is the second Pritzker laureate to be chosen from Portugal, after Siza.

"When I received the phone call telling me I was to be the Pritzker laureate, I could hardly believe it," Souto de Moura said in a written statement. "The fact that this is the second time a Portuguese architect has been chosen makes it even more important."

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