Winners of the Pritzker Prize in Architecture

It is known as the Nobel Prize for architects

The Pritzker Architecture Prize is known as the Nobel Prize for architects. Each year it is awarded to professionals—an individual or team—who have made important contributions to the field of architecture and design. While selections by the Pritzker Prize jury are sometimes controversial, there is little doubt that these architects are among the most influential of modern times.

Here is a list of all Pritzker laureates, starting with the most recent and going back to 1979, when the prize was established. 

2019: Arata Isozaki, Japan

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Japanese architect Arata Isozaki was born on Kyushu, an island near Hiroshima, and his town was burned down when an atom bomb struck the nearby city. "So, my first experience of architecture was the void of architecture, and I began to consider how people might rebuild their homes and cities,” he said later. He became the first Japanese architect to forge a deep, long-lasting relationship between East and West. The Pritzker jury wrote:

"Possessing a profound knowledge of architectural history and theory and embracing the avant-garde, he never merely replicated the status quo but challenged it. And in his search for meaningful architecture, he created buildings of great quality that to this day defy categorizations..."

2018: Balkrishna Doshi; India

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Balkrishna Doshi, the first Pritzker Laureate from India studied in Bombay, today's Mumbai, and furthered his studies in Europe, working with Le Corbusier in the 1950s, and in America with Louis Kahn in the 1960s. His modernist designs and work with concrete were influenced by these two architects.

His Vastushilpa Consultants has completed over 100 projects combining Eastern and Western ideals, including low-cost housing at Indore and middle-income housing in Ahmedabad. The architect’s studio in Ahmedabad, called Sangath, is mixture of shapes, movement, and functions. The Pritzker jury said about his selection:

"Balkrishna Doshi constantly demonstrates that all good architecture and urban planning must not only unite purpose and structure but must take into account climate, site, technique, and craft."

2017: Rafael Aranda, Carme Pigem, and Ramon Vilalta, Spain

Finalists of the Mies Arch European Unio
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In 2017 the Pritzker Architecture Prize was awarded for the first time to a team of three. Rafael Aranda, Carme Pigem, and Ramon Vilalta work as RCR Arquitectes in an office that was an early 20th-century foundry in Olot, Spain. Like architect Frank Lloyd Wright, they connect exterior and interior spaces; like Frank Gehry, they experiment with modern materials such as recycled steel and plastic. Their architecture expresses old and new, local and universal, the present and the future. Wrote the Pritzker jury:

"What sets them apart is their approach that creates buildings and places that are both local and universal at the same time...Their works are always the fruit of true collaboration and at the service of the community."

2016: Alejandro Aravena, Chile

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Alejandro Aravena's ELEMENTAL team approaches public housing pragmatically. “Half of a good house” (pictured) is financed with public money, and the residents complete their neighborhood to their own liking. Aravena has called this approach "incremental housing and participatory design." The jury wrote:

"The role of the architect is now being challenged to serve greater social and humanitarian needs, and Alejandro Aravena has clearly, generously, and fully responded to this challenge."

2015: Frei Otto, Germany

German Pavillion
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According to the 2015 Pritzker biography of German architect Frei Otto:

"He is a world-renowned innovator in architecture and engineering who pioneered modern fabric roofs over tensile structures and also worked with other materials and building systems such as grid shells, bamboo, and wooden lattices. He made important advances in the use of air as a structural material and to pneumatic theory, and the development of convertible roofs."

2014: Shigeru Ban, Japan

La Seine musicale, Paris, France
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The 2014 Pritzker jury wrote that Japanese architect Shigeru Ban:

"is a tireless architect whose work exudes optimism. Where others may see insurmountable challenges, Ban sees a call to action. Where others might take a tested path, he sees the opportunity to innovate. He is a committed teacher who is not only a role model for younger generations, but also an inspiration."

2013: Toyo Ito, Japan

A plastic project named "Taichung metropolitan Opera House 2005" made by Toyo Ito

 VINCENZO PINTO / Staff / Getty Images

Glenn Murcutt, 2002 Pritzker laureate and 2013 Pritzker jury member wrote of Toyo Ito:

"For nearly 40 years, Toyo Ito has pursued excellence. His work has not remained static and has never been predictable. He has been an inspiration and influenced the thinking of younger generations of architects both within his land and abroad."

2012: Wang Shu, China

China - Nanjing - CIPEA
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Chinese architect Wang Shu spent many years working on building sites to learn traditional skills. The firm uses his knowledge of everyday techniques to adapt and transform materials for contemporary projects. He said in an interview that:

“to me architecture is spontaneous for the simple reason that architecture is a matter of everyday life. When I say that I build a ‘house’ instead of a ‘building,’ I am thinking of something that is closer to life, everyday life. When I named my studio ‘Amateur Architecture,’ it was to emphasize the spontaneous and experimental aspects of my work, as opposed to being ‘official and monumental.’"

2011: Eduardo Souto de Moura, Portugal

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Pritzker Prize jury chairman Lord Palumbo said of Portuguese architect Eduardo Souto de Moura:

"His buildings have a unique ability to convey seemingly conflicting characteristics—power and modesty, bravado and subtlety, bold public authority and a sense of intimacy—at the same time."

2010: Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa, Japan

21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art in Kanazawa, Japan.

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Kazuyo Sejima's and Ryue Nishizawa's firm, Sejima and Nishizawa and Associates,(SANAA), is praised for designing powerful, minimalist buildings using common, everyday materials. Both Japanese architects also design independently. In their acceptance speech they said:

"In the individual firms, we each think about architecture on our own and struggle with our own ideas...At the same time, we inspire and critique each other at SANAA. We believe working this way opens up many possibilities for both of us...Our aim is to make better, innovative architecture and we will continue to put forth our best effort to do so."

2009: Peter Zumthor, Switzerland

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The son of a cabinetmaker, Swiss architect Peter Zumthor is often praised for the detailed craftsmanship of his designs. The Pritzker jury said:

"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...In paring down architecture to its barest yet most sumptuous essentials, he has reaffirmed architecture’s indispensable place in a fragile world."

2008: Jean Nouvel, France

The Guthrie Theatre, Minneapolis, MN, Architect Jean Nouvel.

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Taking cues from the environment, flamboyant French architect Jean Nouvel places an emphasis on light and shadow. The jury wrote that:

"For Nouvel, in architecture there is no 'style' a priori. Rather, context, interpreted in the broadest sense to include culture, location, program, and client, provokes him to develop a different strategy for each project. The iconic Guthrie Theater (2006) in Minneapolis, Minnesota, both merges and contrasts with its surroundings. It is responsive to the city and the nearby Mississippi River..." 

2007: Lord Richard Rogers, United Kingdom

Exterior of Lloyds of London Building Designed by Sir Richard Rogers

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British architect Richard Rogers is known for "transparent" high tech designs and a fascination for buildings as machines. Rogers said in his acceptance speech that his intention with the Lloyds of London building was "to open buildings up to the street, creating as much joy for the passer-by as for the people who work inside."

2006: Paulo Mendes da Rocha, Brazil

Estádio Serra Dourada - Paulo Mendes da
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Brazilian architect Paulo Mendes da Rocha is known for bold simplicity and innovative use of concrete and steel. The jury wrote:

"Whether individual homes or apartments, to a church, sports stadium, art museum, kindergarten, furniture showroom or public plaza, Mendes da Rocha has devoted his career to the creation of architecture guided by a sense of responsibility to the inhabitants of his projects as well as to a broader society."

2005: Thom Mayne, United States

Perot Museum of Nature & Science designed by Thom Mayne, 2013, Dallas, Texas

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American architect Thom Mayne has won many awards for designing buildings that move beyond modernism and postmodernism. According to the Pritzker jury:

"He has sought throughout his career to create an original architecture, one that is truly representative of the unique, somewhat rootless, culture of Southern California, especially the architecturally rich city of Los Angeles."

2004: Zaha Hadid, Iraq / United Kingdom

Opening Of The New Serpentine Sackler Gallery Designed By Zaha Hadid
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From parking garages and ski jumps to vast urban landscapes, Zaha Hadid's works have been called bold, unconventional, and theatrical. The Iraqi-born British architect was the first woman to win a Pritzker Prize. Juror and architecture critic Ada Louise Huxtable said:

"Hadid’s fragmented geometry and fluid mobility do more than create an abstract, dynamic beauty; this is a body of work that explores and expresses the world we live in.”

2003: Jørn Utzon, Denmark

Sydney aerial
Michael Dunning / Getty Images

Born in Denmark, Jørn Utzon, the architect for the famous and controversial Sydney Opera House in Australia, was perhaps destined to design buildings that evoke the sea. He isn't only known for his public projects. The jury wrote:

"His housing is designed to provide not only privacy for its inhabitants but pleasant views of the landscape and flexibility for individual pursuits—in short, designed with people in mind."

2002: Glenn Murcutt, Australia

Pritzker Architecture Prize 2015 Award Ceremony
John Parra / Getty Images

Glenn Murcutt isn't a builder of skyscrapers or grand, showy buildings. Instead, the Australian architect is known for smaller projects that conserve energy and blend with the environment. The Pritzker panel wrote:

"He uses a variety of materials, from metal to wood to glass, stone, brick and concrete—always selected with a consciousness of the amount of energy it took to produce the materials in the first place. He uses light, water, wind, the sun, the moon in working out the details of how a house will work—how it will respond to its environment."

2001:Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron, Switzerland

National Stadium, Beijing, China.

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The Herzog & de Meuron firm is known for innovative construction using new materials and techniques. The two architects have nearly parallel careers. Of one of their projects the jury wrote:

"They transformed a nondescript structure in a railroad yard into a dramatic and artistic work of industrial architecture, captivating both by day and night."

2000: Rem Koolhaas, The Netherlands

China Central Television, Beijing.

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Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas has been called in turns Modernist and Deconstructivist, yet many critics claim that he leans toward Humanism. Koolhaas's work searches for a link between technology and humanity. He is an architect, the jury wrote:

"whose ideas about buildings and urban planning made him one of the most discussed contemporary architects in the world even before any of his design projects came to fruition."

1999: Sir Norman Foster, United Kingdom

Reichstag Cupola
Adam Berry / Getty Images

British architect Sir Norman Foster is known for "high tech" design that explores technological shapes and ideas. He often uses off-site manufactured parts and the repetition of modular elements in his projects. The jury said Foster "has produced a collection of buildings and products noted for their clarity, invention, and sheer artistic virtuosity."

1998: Renzo Piano, Italy

Renzo Piano Red Carpet - The 10th Rome Film Fest
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Renzo Piano is often called a "high-tech" architect because his designs showcase technological shapes and materials. However, human needs and comfort are at the center of Piano's designs, which include the air terminal in Osaka Bay, Japan; a soccer stadium in Bari, Italy; a 1,000-foot-long bridge in Japan; a 70,000-ton luxury ocean liner; a car; and his hillside-hugging transparent workshop.

1997: Sverre Fehn, Norway

Architecture in Venice, Italy
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Norwegian architect Sverre Fehn was a Modernist, yet he was inspired by primitive shapes and Scandinavian tradition. Fehn's works were widely praised for integrating innovative designs with the natural world. His design for the Norwegian Glacier Museum, built and expanded between 1991 and 2007, is perhaps his most famous work. The Norsk Bremuseum, one of the glacier museums in Jostedalsbreen National Park in Norway, became a center for learning about climate change. 

1996: Rafael Moneo, Spain

CDAN, the Beulas Foundation's Art and Nature Centre in Huesca city, Spain, 2006

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Spanish architect Rafael Moneo finds inspiration in historic ideas, especially Nordic and Dutch traditions. He has been a teacher, theorist, and architect of a variety of projects, incorporating new ideas into historic environments. Moneo was awarded the prize for a career that was "the ideal example of knowledge and experience enhancing the mutual interaction of theory, practice and teaching."

1995: Tadao Ando, Japan

Light comes through large cross in wall of Church of the Light, 1989 Japan, Designed by Tadao Ando

Ping Shung Chen/Moment/Getty Images

Japanese architect Tadao Ando is known for designing deceptively simple buildings constructed of unfinished reinforced concrete. The Pritzker jury wrote that "he is accomplishing his self-imposed mission to restore the unity between house and nature."

1994: Christian de Portzamparc, France

One57 Overlooking Central Park, Skyscraper Designed by Portzamparc

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Sculptural towers and vast urban projects are among the designs by French architect Christian de Portzamparc. The Pritzker Jury declared him:

"a prominent member of a new generation of French architects who have incorporated the lessons of the Beaux Arts into an exuberant collage of contemporary architectural idioms, at once bold, colorful and original."

The jury said members expected that "the world will continue to benefit richly from his creativity," as later evidenced by the completion of One57, a 1,004-foot residential skyscraper overlooking Central Park in New York, New York.

1993: Fumihiko Maki, Japan

Main Arena at Metropolitan Gymnasium in the Sendagaya District of Shibuya Ward in Tokyo, Japan

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Tokyo-based architect Fumihiko Maki is widely praised for his work in metal and glass. A student of Pritzker winner Kenzo Tange, Maki "has fused the best of both Eastern and Western cultures," according to the Pritzker jury citation. It continues:

"He uses light in a masterful way, making it as tangible a part of every design as are the walls and roof. In each building, he searches for a way to make transparency, translucency, and opacity exist in total harmony."

1992: Álvaro Siza Vieira, Portugal

Piscina Leca, Palmeira, Portugal, 1966, Designed by Portuguese Architect Alvaro Siza

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Portugese architect Álvaro Siza Vieira won fame for his sensitivity to context and a fresh approach to modernism. "Siza maintains that architects invent nothing," cited the Pritzker jury. "Rather, they transform in response to the problems they encounter." The jury said the quality of his work doesn't depend on scale, saying his:

"characteristic attention to spatial relationships and appropriateness of form are as germane to a single family residence as they are to a much larger social housing complex or office building."

1991: Robert Venturi, United States

The Vanna Venturi House by Pritzker Prize Laureate Robert Venturi

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American architect Robert Venturi designs buildings steeped in popular symbolism. Mocking the austerity of modernist architecture, Venturi is famous for saying, "Less is a bore." Many critics say that Venturi's Pritzker Prize should have been shared with his business partner and wife, Denise Scott Brown. The Pritzker jury said:

"He has expanded and redefined the limits of the art of architecture in this century as perhaps no other has through his theories and built works."

1990: Aldo Rossi, Italy

Duca di Milano Hotel
claudiodivizia / Getty Images

The Italian architect, product designer, artist, and theorist Aldo Rossi was a founder of the Neo-Rationalist movement. The jury cited his writing and drawings and well as his built projects:

"As a master draftsman, steeped in the tradition of Italian art and architecture, Rossi's sketches and renderings of buildings have often achieved international recognition long before being built."

1989: Frank Gehry, Canada / United States

Walt Disney Concert Hall, California.

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Inventive and irreverent, Canadian-born architect Frank Gehry has been surrounded by controversy for most of his career. The jury described his work as "refreshingly original and totally American" and "highly refined, sophisticated and adventurous." The jury continued:

"His sometimes controversial but always arresting body of work has been variously described as iconoclastic, rambunctious and impermanent, but the jury, in making this award, commends this restless spirit that has made his buildings a unique expression of contemporary society and its ambivalent values."

1988: Oscar Niemeyer, Brazil (shared with Gordon Bunshaft, US)

Niteroi Contemporary Art Museum, Brazil
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From his early work with Le Corbusier to his beautifully sculptural buildings for Brazil's new capital city, Oscar Niemeyer shaped the Brazil we see today. According to the jury:

"Recognized as one of the first to pioneer new concepts in architecture in this hemisphere, his designs are artistic gesture with underlying logic and substance. His pursuit of great architecture linked to roots of his native land has resulted in new plastic forms and a lyricism in buildings, not only in Brazil, but around the world."

1988: Gordon Bunshaft, US (shared with Oscar Niemeyer, Brazil)

Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library
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In Gordon Bunshaft's New York Times obituary, architecture critic Paul Goldberger wrote that he was "gruff," "stocky," and "one of the most influential architects of the 20th century." With the Lever House and other office buildings, Bunshaft "became the premier purveyor of cool, corporate modernism" and "never let down the flag of modern architecture." The jury wrote:

"his 40 years of designing masterpieces of modern architecture demonstrate an understanding of contemporary technology and materials that is unsurpassed."

1987: Kenzo Tange, Japan

Bologna Fiera district
lucagavagna / Getty Images

Japanese architect Kenzo Tange was known for bringing a modernist approach to traditional Japanese styles. He was instrumental in Japan's Metabolist movement, and his post-war designs helped move a nation into the modern world. The history of Tange Associates reminds us that "the Tange name has been synonymous with epoch-making, contemporary architecture."

1986: Gottfried Böhm, West Germany

Pilgrimage Cathedral by Pritzker Winner Gottfried Böhm, 1968, Neviges, Germany

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German architect Gottfried Böhm aspires to find connections between architectural ideas, designing buildings that in­te­gra­te old and new. The Pritzker panel wrote:

"His highly evocative handiwork combines much that we have inherited from our ancestors with much that we have but newly acquired—an uncanny and exhilarating marriage..."

1985: Hans Hollein, Austria

Haas Haus, 1990 by Hans Hollein, on Stephansplatz in Vienna, Austria

anzeletti/Collection: E+/Getty Images

Hans Hollein became known for postmodernist building and furniture designs. The New York Times called his buildings "beyond category, commingling Modernist and traditional aesthetics in sculptural, almost painterly ways." According to the Pritzker jury:

"In the design of museums, schools, shops, and public housing, he mingles bold shapes and colors with an exquisite refinement of detail and never fears to bring together the richest of ancient marbles and the latest in plastics."

1984: Richard Meier, United States

Getty Center in LA
alarico / Getty Images

A common theme runs through Richard Meier's striking, white designs. The sleek porcelain-enameled cladding and stark glass forms have been described as "purist," "sculptural," and "Neo-Corbusian." The jury said Meier "broadened [architecture's] range of forms to make it responsive to the expectations of our time" and added, "In his search for clarity and his experiments in balancing light and space, he has created structures which are personal, vigorous, original."

1983: I.M. Pei, China / United States

Pei-designed glass triangular Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Cleveland, Ohio

Barry Winiker / Collection: Photolibrary / Getty Images

Chinese-born architect Ieoh Ming Pei tended to use large, abstract forms and sharp, geometric designs. His glass-clad structures seem to spring from the high-tech modernist movement, though Pei is more concerned with function than theory. The jury noted:

"Pei has designed over 50 projects in this country and abroad, many of which have been award winners. Two of his most prominent commissions have included the East Building of the National Gallery of Art (1978) in Washington, D.C., and the extension of the Louvre in Paris, France."

1982: Kevin Roche, Ireland / United States

Three pyramid structures of glass, Kevin Roche-designed College Life Insurance Company

Serge Melki / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 2.0

"Kevin Roche's formidable body of work sometimes intersects fashion, sometimes lags fashion, and more often makes fashion," cited the Pritzker jury. Critics praised the Irish-American architect for sleek designs and innovative use of glass.

1981: Sir James Stirling, United Kingdom

State Gallery
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Scottish-born British architect Sir James Stirling worked in many styles during his long, rich career. New York Times architecture critic Paul Goldberger called the Neue Staatsgalerie in Stuttgart, Germany, one of the "most important museum buildings of our era." Goldberger said in a 1992 article,

"It is a visual tour de force, a mixture of rich stone and bright, even garish, color. Its facade is a series of monumental terraces of stone, set in horizontal stripes of sandstone and brown travertine marble, with huge, undulating window walls framed in electric green, the whole thing punctuated by huge, tubular metal railings of bright blue and magenta."

1980: Luis Barragán, Mexico

Faro del Comercio monument panoramic view

 Monica Garza Maldonado / Getty Images

Mexican architect Luis Barragán was a minimalist who worked with light and flat planes. The Pritzker jury said his selection was:

"honoring Luis Barragán for his commitment to architecture as a sublime act of the poetic imagination. He has created gardens, plazas, and fountains of haunting beauty—metaphysical landscapes for meditation and companionship."

1979: Philip Johnson, United States

Fall view of Philip Johnson Glass House, New Canaan, Connecticut
Buyenlarge / Getty Images

American architect Philip Johnson was awarded the first Pritzker Architecture Prize in recognition of "50 years of imagination and vitality embodied in a myriad of museums, theaters, libraries, houses, gardens and corporate structures." The jury wrote that his work:

"demonstrates a combination of the qualities of talent, vision and commitment that has produced consistent and significant contributions to humanity and the environment."
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Craven, Jackie. "Winners of the Pritzker Prize in Architecture." ThoughtCo, Feb. 16, 2021, Craven, Jackie. (2021, February 16). Winners of the Pritzker Prize in Architecture. Retrieved from Craven, Jackie. "Winners of the Pritzker Prize in Architecture." ThoughtCo. (accessed February 4, 2023).

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