The Associated PressPublished: March 28, 2007
LOS ANGELES: British architect Lord Richard Rogers, acclaimed for his urban, socially minded and open designs including the airy Georges Pompidou Center in Paris, is the winner of the 2007 Pritzker Architecture Prize, it was announced Wednesday.
Rogers, 73, is the fourth British architect to receive the field's top honor, founded in 1979 and sponsored by the family that developed the Hyatt Hotel chain. Past winners include Californian Frank Gehry and Italy's Renzo Piano, who designed the Pompidou with Rogers.
"It's very nice to be awarded what is the most important architecture prize in the world," Rogers said in a telephone interview Monday from his office in London. "Winning this prize will give me another platform to communicate one's social responsibility, also to the beauty of architecture and buildings."
A jury panel of architects and academics singled out Rogers for his more than 40 years of work and such contemporary landmarks as the Pompidou Centre, Lloyd's of London, and, recently, the colorful, light-filled new terminal of Madrid's Barajas International Airport.
Rogers is the chief adviser on architecture and urbanism to the mayor of London.
He also designed one of three mixed-use office towers planned for construction at the World Trade center site in New York.
"In his writings, through his role as adviser to policy making groups, as well as his large-scale planning work, Rogers is a champion of urban life and believes in the potential of the city to be a catalyst for social change," said the jury in its citation.
The panel lauded Rogers' structures as uniquely capturing modern architecture's fascination with high-tech elements, transparency, constraint-free design and the integration of public and private spaces.
The Pompidou, which first opened in 1977, in particular "revolutionized museums, transforming what had once been elite monuments into popular places of social and cultural exchange, woven into the heart of the city," said the jury.
Rogers, Piano and architect Gianfranco Franchini won a competition in 1971 to design the museum, a project envisioned by then President Georges Pompidou.
The multilevel matrix of steel and glass features a terrace, transparent facade, outside escalators and a vast esplanade to produce the effect of fluidity, space and flexibility conducive to its urban environment.
"I describe it as a place for all people, all places, all creeds," Rogers said.
Born in Florence, Italy, and raised in England, Rogers developed an interest in art and modern design fostered by his mother and his father's cousin, Ernesto Rogers, a prominent Italian architect.
An ongoing struggle with school later revealed he was dyslexic.
"I was very fortunate. I had parents who supported me," Rogers said. "Back then, it wasn't called dyslexia, it was called stupidity. We need to communicate that it is possible to do things even when one has learning difficulties."
Rogers proved himself at London's Architectural Association, then earned a master's degree in architecture from Yale University, where he fell in love with the organic style of Frank Lloyd Wright.
Citing an interest in both the "micro and the macro" of architecture, Rogers considers a small house he designed for his parents during the late 1960s one his favorites. The glass-walled building in Wimbledon became a prototype for portable housing, showcasing what the jury praised as Rogers' influential support of energy efficiency and sustainability.
His longtime practice, Richard Rogers Partnership, gained international attention for larger, innovative mixed-use designs, including such projects as the Millennium Dome in London and the enormous, glass Nippon Television headquarters in Tokyo. Currents projects for RRP, which has offices in London, Barcelona, Madrid and Tokyo, include Heathrow Airport's Terminal 5.
A formal ceremony for the prize will be held June 4 in London, where Rogers will receive a $100,000 (â‚¬74,918) grant and a bronze medallion.
For the architect, who said he is "very much against ghettos," zoning and "walled cities," the belief remains that urban structures and their inhabitants literally need room to breathe.
"It's about giving beauty to the physical environment; poetry, rhythm, lightness and light. Giving flexibility, userability," he said. "It's about giving form to mass, and transparency to mass."
On the Net:
- PVC King