Sharon Lorenzo gives her perspective on the Pritzker Awards in architecture

Awarded to Sir David Alan Chipperfield from the United Kingdom – 2023

Sir David Alan Chipperfield, knighted by officials in the United Kingdom in 2010, is the recipient of the Pritzker Prize for Architectural Excellence for 2023.  The prize started in 1979 with a stipend of $100,000 by Jay and Cindy Pritzker, owners of the Hyatt Corporation. It is the equivalent of a Nobel award in the fields of science or literature most jurors concur.  In addition to the funds, the winner receives a bronze medal inscribed with the infamous formula of the great Roman architect Vitruvius from the 1st century BC: firmitas- utilitas-venustas meaning Firmness, Commodity and Delight- the three ingredients for visual and functional architectural success.

Pritzker Prize medal

Since the death of his parents, Tom and Margot Pritzker have carried on the family tradition with a very astute jury, formal requirements for nominations, and a list of the top architects from all over the globe as past winners.  When Swiss architect Peter Zumthor accepted the award in 2009, he said, “Well, now I have arrived and can afford to buy a tuxedo and tell my grandchildren that my work has been worthy and recognized.”[1]  This year’s ceremony will be in Athens in proximity to the Parthenon and its ancient structures. Its modern museum nearby is anxiously awaiting the return of the Elgin Marbles from the British Museum, and perhaps the new King Charles and his Parliament will grant that reward to Greece.

Chipperfield was born in 1953 and grew up in Devon outside of London on a farm. He attended the Kingston School of Art and the Architectural Association of London before clerking for both Norman Foster, a 1999 Pritzker winner, and Richard Rogers, also a recipient in 2007.  Sir David has constructed over 100 buildings from corporate spaces to art museums and taught at the Yale School of Architecture.  He currently has offices in London, Berlin, Milan, Shanghai, and Santiago de Compostela in Spain.

In 1997 he worked on the restoration of the Neues Museum in Berlin and the River and Rowing Museum on Henley- on- Thames in the UK. He completed two more amazing museum projects in 2013 in St Louis Missouri and Mexico City. In 2015 he won the commission for the new modern and contemporary art wing of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York under its then director Thomas Campbell.

River and Rowing Museum, Henley-on-Thames, UK, 1997
America’s Cup Building, Valencia, Spain, 2006
      BBC Scotland Headquarters, UK, 2007
Museo Jumex, Mexico City, Mexico 2013

His recently completed projects reflect the depth and diversity of his talents and the ability of his staff to execute complex architectural plans. The following projects are in process, naming just a few of many: National Archeological Museum in Athens, Greece–   Parliamentary Precinct in Ottawa, Canada–   Sports Arena in Milan, Italy. The Rolex Building in New York City, rebuilt by Chipperfield, was reopened in late 2022.

Rolex Building, New York City.

The Hyatt Corporation and the Pritzker family should be applauded for honoring such esteemed specialists for architectural excellence in the 44 years of this process.  Recently retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer has stated that serving on the Pritzker prize jury has been one of the great delights of his lifetime of public service.[2]

Justice Stephen Breyer, Juror for the Pritzker Award Winner.
Sir David Alan Chipperfield, Pritzker Prize Winner 2023.

[1] Award dinner 2009, Pritzker prize, Buenos Aires, Argentina.

[2] 2016 Pritzker prize award dinner at the United Nations, New York, New York.

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