« Los Angeles, CA—Peter Zumthor of Switzerland has been chosen as the 2009 Laureate of the Pritzker Architecture Prize. The formal ceremony for what has come to be known throughout the world as architecture’s highest honor will be held on May 29 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. At that time, a $100,000 grant and a bronze medallion will be bestowed on the 65-year old architect.
Although most of his work is in Switzerland, he has designed projects in Germany, Austria, The Netherlands, England, Spain, Norway, Finland and the United States. His most famous work is in Vals, Switzerland — the Thermal Baths, which has been referred to by the press as “his masterpiece.” Most recently critics have praised his Field Chapel to Saint Nikolaus von der Flüe near Cologne, Germany. The jury singled out not only those buildings, but also the Kolumba Museum in Cologne, calling the latter “a startling contemporary work, but also one that is completely at ease with its many layers of history.”
In announcing the jury’s choice, Thomas J. Pritzker, chairman of The Hyatt Foundation, quoted from the jury citation, “Peter Zumthor is a master architect admired by his colleagues around the world for work that is focused, uncompromising and exceptionally determined.” And he added, “All of Peter Zumthor’s buildings have a strong, timeless presence. He has a rare talent of combining clear and rigorous thought with a truly poetic dimension, resulting in works that never cease to inspire.”
In Zumthor’s own words as expressed in his book, Thinking Architecture, “I believe that architecture today needs to reflect on the tasks and possibilities which are inherently its own. Architecture is not a vehicle or a symbol for things that do not belong to its essence. In a society that celebrates the inessential, architecture can put up a resistance, counteract the waste of forms and meanings, and speak its own language. I believe that the language of architecture is not a question of a specific style. Every building is built for a specific use in a specific place and for a specific society. My buildings try to answer the questions that emerge from these simple facts as precisely and critically as they can.”
Pritzker Prize jury chairman, The Lord Palumbo elaborated with more of the citation: “Zumthor has a keen ability to create places that are much more than a single building. His architecture expresses respect for the primacy of the site, the legacy of a local culture and the invaluable lessons of architectural history.” He continued, “In Zumthor’s skillful hands , like those of the consummate craftsman, materials from cedar shingles to sandblasted glass are used in a way that celebrates their own unique qualities, all in the service of an architecture of permanence.”
Zumthor, when notified that he had been named the 2009 laureate, responded, “Being awarded the Pritzker Prize is a wonderful recognition of the architectural work we have done in the last 20 years. That a body of work as small as ours is recognized in the professional world makes us feel proud and should give much hope to young professionals that if they strive for quality in their work it might become visible without any special promotion.” »
(Source: Nicolas Marier)