The Hyatt Foundation which established the Pritzker Prize in 1979 has
awarded the 2006 prize to a Brazilian architect -- the second Brazilian
in the history of the prize to be chosen for the $100,000 award.

Los Angeles, CA (PRWEB) April 9, 2006 -- Paulo Mendes da Rocha has been
chosen as the 2006 Laureate of the Pritzker Architecture Prize. The
78-year old architect becomes the second laureate from Brazil, Oscar
Niemeyer being the first, chosen in 1988.

In announcing the jury’s choice, Thomas J. Pritzker, president of The
Hyatt Foundation, said, “Mendes da Rocha has shown a deep understanding
of space and scale through the great variety of buildings he has
designed, from private residences, housing complexes, a church, museums
and sports stadia to urban plans for public space. While few of his
buildings were realized outside of Brazil, the lessons to be learned
from his work, both as a practicing architect and a teacher, are universal.”

The formal ceremony for what has come to be known throughout the world
as architecture’s highest honor will be held on May 30, 2006 in
Istanbul, Turkey. At that time, a $100,000 grant and a bronze medallion
are bestowed.

The new laureate began his career in the 1950s and was part of what was
then considered the avant-garde in São Paulo, known loosely as creators
of the Paulist brutalist architecture -- practicioners whose work, often
using simple materials and forms, emphasized an ethical dimension of
architecture. He is widely considered the most outstanding architect of
Brazil. He has steadfastly devoted his career to the creation of
buildings and spaces guided by a sense of responsibility toward the
residents of his buildings and the broader society.

During a career that spans six decades, he has maintained his own
practice, taught for many years at the University of São Paulo, and
contributed to the professional community through his work as president
of the Brazilian Institute for Architects. He has lectured extensively
throughout South America and Europe. He has received many awards, but it
was the Mies van der Rohe Prize for Latin American Architecture in 2000
that brought international recognition.

Pritzker Prize jury chairman, Lord Palumbo, commented, “Mendes da Rocha
brings the joyful lilt of Brazil to his work...never afraid of
innovation or of taking risks...indeed, a worthy choice.”

Among his most widely known built works is the Brazilian Sculpture
Museum, a non-traditional concept of a museum, nestled partly
underground in a garden in São Paulo. He made bold use of a giant
concrete beam on the exterior that traverses the site.

His Forma Furniture Showroom in the same city is considered an icon of
his approach to architecture. The front has a window that spans the
length of the building, opening the building to the cityscape, a
recurring theme of his work.

His renovation of São Paulo’s oldest Fine Arts Museum, the Pinacoteca do
Estado, affirmed his understanding and respect for Brazil’s legacy --
the basic structure of the 19th century building was simply restored
with some striking new functional additions.

Mendes da Rocha revitalized a square in the heart of São Paulo, called
Patriarch Plaza, adding an enormous steel canopy that appears to float
over the square.

Internationally, he was a finalist in the competition for the Centre
Pompidou in Paris in 1972, and was the architect of Brazil’s Pavilion at
Expo ‘70 in Osaka, Japan in 1970. Currently, in Galicia in the northwest
part of Spain, he is developing a master plan for the Technological
City, part of the University of Vigo. His task is to integrate new
buildings -- library, engineering departments, student residences,
administration offices -- designed by several different Spanish
architects into an overall landscape scheme that also fosters
connections between buildings.

Martha Thorne, speaking as the executive director of the Pritzker Prize,
quoting from the jury citation which states, “Inspired by the principles
and language of modernism, he brings a renewed force to each of his
projects through his bold use of simple materials and a deep
understanding of the poetics of space.”

Juror Carlos Jimenez from Houston who is professor of architecture at
Rice University, said, “...he builds with exceptional economy to achieve
an architecture of profound social engagement, an architecture that
transcends the limits of construction to dazzle with poetic rigor and

Balkrishna Doshi, Pritzker Juror from India, spoke of Mendes da Rocha’s
work, “It is not impossible to create generous architecture even in
situations with minimum resources and numerous constraints. What one
needs is a largeness of vision and a desire to create something that
people can touch, feel, and in which they can participate.”

“For Mendes da Rocha, the meaning of architecture is not to create
isolated buildings, but to respond to the eternal question of human
habitation. His answers are at the same time classical and audacious: a
new força geográfica for a new society,” is juror Rolf Fehlbaum’s comment.

Another juror, Victoria Newhouse, says, “The jury was deeply impressed
by this practitioner’s ability to create powerful structures working
within the technical limitations of his culture.”

Juror Karen Stein commented, “As the translation of his surname -- “of
the rock” -- implies, he has steadfastly adhered to the experimental
approach upon which he established his own architectural practice over
half a century ago, consistently pushing the sculptural limits of
structural form to surprising and often poetic effect.”

The purpose of the Pritzker Architecture Prize is to honor annually a
living architect whose built work demonstrates a combination of those
qualities of talent, vision and commitment, which has produced
consistent and significant contributions to humanity and the built
environment through the art of architecture.

The distinguished jury that selected Mendes da Rocha as the 2006
Laureate consists of its chairman, Lord Palumbo, internationally known
architectural patron of London, chairman of the trustees, Serpentine
Gallery, former chairman of the Arts Council of Great Britain, former
chairman of the Tate Gallery Foundation, and former trustee of the Mies
van der Rohe Archive at the Museum of Modern Art, New York; and
alphabetically: Balkrishna Vithaldas Doshi, architect, planner and
professor of architecture of Ahmedabad, India; Rolf Fehlbaum, chairman
of the board, Vitra in Basel, Switzerland; Frank O. Gehry, architect and
Pritzker Laureate 1989 from Los Angeles, California; Carlos Jimenez,
professor, Rice University School of Architecture, principal, Carlos
Jimenez Studio in Houston, Texas; Victoria Newhouse architectural
historian and author, founder and director of the Architectural History
Foundation, New York, New York; and Karen Stein, editorial director of
Phaidon Press in New York.

The prize presentation ceremony moves to different locations around the
world each year, paying homage to historic and contemporary
architecture. Last year, the ceremony was held in Chicago at the Jay
Pritzker Pavilion, designed by Frank Gehry, in Millennium Park. The
previous year, it was in the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg,
Russia. In the years prior, ceremonies have been at the Royal Academy of
Fine Arts of San Fernando, Madrid, Spain; Michelangelo’s Campidoglio in
Rome, Italy; Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, in Charlottesville,
Virginia; as well as at the Jerusalem Archaeological Park.

The list of venues goes on to include not only a great many of the great
museums in the United States, but also many other countries including
France, England, the Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, Mexico and Japan.

“This year, by going to Istanbul,” explains Hyatt Foundation president,
Thomas Pritzker, “we hope to increase the awareness of architecture in a
country that has historically been the crossroads of eastern and western
cultures for many centuries.”

The late Philip Johnson was the first Pritzker Laureate in 1979. The
late Luis Barragán of Mexico was named in 1980. The late James Stirling
of Great Britain was elected in 1981, Kevin Roche in 1982, Ieoh Ming Pei
in 1983, and Richard Meier in 1984. Hans Hollein of Austria was the 1985
Laureate. Gottfried Böhm of Germany received the prize in 1986. The late
Kenzo Tange was the first Japanese architect to receive the prize in
1987; Fumihiko Maki was the second from Japan in 1993; and Tadao Ando
the third in 1995. Robert Venturi received the honor in 1991, and Alvaro
Siza of Portugal in 1992. Christian de Portzamparc of France was elected
Pritzker Laureate in 1994. The late Gordon Bunshaft of the United States
and Oscar Niemeyer of Brazil, were named in 1988. Frank Gehry was the
recipient in 1989, the late Aldo Rossi of Italy in 1990. In 1996, Rafael
Moneo of Spain was the Laureate; in 1997 Sverre Fehn of Norway; in 1998
Renzo Piano of Italy, in 1999 Sir Norman Foster of the UK, and in 2000,
Rem Koolhaas of the Netherlands. In 2001, two architects from
Switzerland received the honor: Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron.
Australian Glenn Murcutt received the prize in 2002. Jørn Utzon of
Denmark was honored in 2003; Zaha Hadid of the UK in 2004; and Thom
Mayne of the United States in 2005.

The field of architecture was chosen by the Pritzker family because of
their keen interest in building due to their involvement with developing
the Hyatt Hotels around the world; also because architecture was a
creative endeavor not included in the Nobel Prizes. The procedures were
modeled after the Nobels, with the final selection being made by the
international jury with all deliberations and voting in secret.
Nominations are continuous from year to year with hundreds of nominees
from countries all around the world being considered each year.

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