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Japanese architects win coveted award

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-03-29

Japanese architects Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa have won the Pritzker Prize for their use of light and transparency in buildings across the globe. The award is often described as the architectural equivalent of the Nobel Prize.

AFP - Japanese architects Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa on Monday were awarded the Pritzker Architectural Prize, the industry's most coveted award.

"The formal ceremony for what has come to be known throughout the world as architecture's highest honor will be held on May 17 on historic Ellis Island in New York," the Hyatt Foundation said in announcing the award, sometimes called the "Nobel prize for architecture."

The award and 100,000-dollar grant to Sejima and Nishizawa, partners in the architectural firm SANAA, marks only the third time two architects have been named in the same year, according to Hyatt Foundation chairman Thomas Pritzker.

The male-female team has designed the O-Museum in Nagano and the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art in Kanazawa, Japan. They also created the US-based Glass Pavilion at the Toledo Museum of Art in Ohio; the De Kunstlinie Theater and Cultural Center in Almere, Netherlands; the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York; and the recent Rolex Learning Center in Lausanne, Switzerland.

"The buildings by Sejima and Nishizawa seem deceptively simple," the jury said.

"The architects hold a vision of a building as a seamless whole, where the physical presence retreats and forms a sensuous background for people, objects, activities and landscapes. They explore like few others the phenomenal properties of continuous space, lightness, transparency and materiality to create a subtle synthesis."

Sejima, 53, the woman in the pair, and Nishizawa, 44, have also worked on a now-dismantled temporary pavilion for London's Serpentine Gallery; the Naoshima Ferry Terminal in Japan and the Christian Dior Building in Tokyo.

They have been commissioned to build a branch of the Louvre Museum in Lens, France.

They created a new building on a coal mining site in Essen, Germany for the Zollverein School of Management and Design.

In Valencia, Spain, the team "provided a unique expansion solution" to the Valencian Institute of Modern Art, the jury said, "in which their existing building housing eight galleries will be completely enclosed by a translucent skin covering an entire block, and thus creating new indoor/outdoor public spaces between the building and the skin."

"I am thrilled to receive such an honor," Sejima said.

"I have been exploring how I can make architecture that feels open, which I feel is important for a new generation of architecture. With this prize I will continue trying to make wonderful architecture."

Nishizawa said he received the prize "with great humility.

"I am very honored and at the same time very surprised. I receive and understand this prize as encouragement for our efforts. Every time I finish a building I revel in possibilities and at the same time reflect on what has happened."

Previous recipients have included I.M. Pei, Frank Gehry and Philip Johnson of the United States; Jean Nouvel of France and Oscar Niemeyer of Brazil.

Date created : 2010-03-29

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