Category Archives: Profile

And the Pritzker goes to…

A house in Ningbo, China, designed by Wang Shu. Photo by Lang Shuilong, courtesy of the Wall Street Journal.

“Wang Shu, an architect based in Hangzhou, China, on Monday received this year’s Pritzker Architecture Prize,” reports the Wall Street Journal on a cool blog about Asian arts called ‘Scene Asia’:

“The fact that an architect from China has been selected by the jury represents a significant step in acknowledging the role that China will play in the development of architectural ideals,” Thomas J. Pritzker said in the prize announcement. “Over the coming decades China’s success at urbanization will be important to China and to the world. This urbanization, like urbanization around the world, needs to be in harmony with local needs and culture. China’s unprecedented opportunities for urban planning and design will want to be in harmony with both its long and unique traditions of the past and with its future needs for sustainable development.”

This is the second year in a row I haven’t known much about the Pritzker winner; part of this has to do with the fact that I don’t do a good job keeping up with international architecture news, and part of it simply has to do with the fact that the Pritzkers aren’t going to starchitects like Frank Gehry these days. The world of architecture has decided that it feels guilty for its decades of fawning and is now paying lip service to small-scale development and sustainable design and all that boring stuff.

That sounds pejorative, and it is meant to be, a little bit. However, I do like the work of both Eduardo Souto du Moura and Wang Shu; both deserve their prices.

Then again, so does Steven Holl.

Anyway, here’s a gallery of Shu’s works, here’s a somewhat informative blog post from the New Yorker magazine about reactions to his win, and here’s a video of Shu speaking on geometry and narrative in architecture (the video is like two hours long!):

And one other thing to remember: this prize is the one distributed by the family that discussed in the second part of this post, yeah, the family building the monstrous 50,000 square foot über-mansion overlooking LA. Take the prize with a grain of salt.

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The skill of Romaldo Giurgola

For those of you who don’t know him, Romaldo Giurgola is a tremendously skilled architect with a career that spans back to the 1950s to the present. Giurgola is well-known for his breaking with the Modernist pack in the 60s in favor of a more Frank Lloyd Wright-esque, quiet, contextual Modernism. Giurgola is no Robert Venturi; he did not abandon Modernism. Rather, he practiced it uniquely and with tremendous skill.

Not a great photo, but you get the idea.

Here we have Giurgola’s Lang Music Building at Swarthmore College, one of the campus’s highlights. This quiet building is pulled off with exceptional skill inside and out. It manages to be unassuming but memorable, subtle but affecting.

More about the Lang Building and Giurgola after the break. Continue reading

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WSJ. Magazine awards Bjarke Ingels

WSJ. Magazine (the Wall Street Journal’s monthly magazine) has given the Danish architect Bjarke Ingels its 2011 Innovator of the Year architecture prize for his environmentally conscious but still artistic approach to architecture: his belief in playful, exciting design that’s also environmentally friendly. (I wonder what the Wall Street Journal editorial page would have to say about this, given the whole not-believing-in-global-warming thing it has going on.)

Bjarke Ingeles's Greenland National Gallery. Photo courtesy Big, Ingeles's architecture firm.

More after the break. Continue reading

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