Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Pritzker Prize 2012

   This year's Pritzker Prize winner has recently been announced!  The laureate is Chinese architect Wang Shu of Amateur Architecture Studio.  This name comes as a surprise to me and just about everyone else, not because of the quality of his work but because of the relative anonymity of the firm until this award.  AIA's Architect magazine reported that as of last weekend Mr. Wang did not even have a Wikipedia article.  Wang Shu is furthermore the first Chinese citizen to win the Pritzker prize -- 1983 winner IM Pei, though born in China, had lived in the United States since 1935.
   The unfortunate dearth of information regarding Amateur Architecture Studio's work precludes the possibility of investigating thoroughly their projects beyond reposting their website's project list.  Perhaps most prominent among those projects is the Ningbo Contemporary Art Museum, shown below.  Full descriptions of their work can be found at the link subtitling this photo under the "Projects" tab.
Photographs from http://www.chinese-architects.com/en/amateur/en/
   Admittedly, i find it difficult to keep up with firms trending popular in the architecture community.  It is much easier and less controversial to discuss great architecture that has been standing for decades or centuries than it is to analyze new works, which is probably why a two semester History of Architecture composed an integral part of my education, while an overview of current architecture did not.  Never fear that F/stop Architectural will shy away from critique of modern design, though.  In fact, today we will highlight those firms that are currently most respected in the field.
   Rather than list previous Pritzker winners, we'll examine some contemporary firms.  Architect Magazine, the official magazine of the AIA (see permanent links at right) occasionally ranks architecture firms by such criteria as "Awards Won", "Sustainability", "Net Revenue per Employee", or some permutation of those by different names.  While i take some exception to profitability as a metric for design quality, this list is as official as any, so let us briefly examine the top ten firms from the most recent report (May 2011).

Perkins+Will, established 1935
Chicago, Illinois

Recently Awarded For: 
University of Washington Medicine, Lake Union, Phase II Research Complex
Seattle, Washington

SmithGroup, established 1853
Detroit, Michigan

Recently Awarded For:
Freeport-McMoRan Center
Phoenix, Arizona

William Rawn Associates, established 1983
Boston, Massachusetts

Recently Awarded For:
Williams College '62 Center for Theater and Dance
Williamstown, Massachusetts

Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, established 1936
Chicago, Illinois

Recently Awarded For:
KAFD Muqarnas Tower
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Ann Beha Architects, established 1980
Boston, Massachusetts

Recently Awarded For:
University of Pennsylvania Music Building
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Sasaki Associates, established 1953
Watertown, Massachusetts

Recently Awarded For:
University of Missouri Kansas City Miller Nichols Library, Phase One
Kansas City, Missouri

Ikon.5 Architects, established 2003
Princeton, New Jersey

Recently Awarded For:
Kirkwood Public Library
New Castle, Delaware

DLR Group, established 1966
Omaha, Nebraska

Recently Awarded For:
Marysville Getchell High School
Marysville, Washington

ZGF Architects, established 1942
Portland, Oregon

Recently Awarded For:
University of Texas at Arlington Engineering Research Building
Arlington, Texas

FXFowle, established 1978
New York, New York

Recently Awarded For:
Eleven Times Square
New York, New York

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