This morning, Chilean architect Alejandro Aravena was named winner of the Pritzker Prize, the highest honor bestowed annually to a single practicing architect and firm internationally.
“The most simple verbs—sitting, standing, meeting, eating, resting—in the end, make our lives. And those verbs happen in places, in nouns: offices, schools, houses, parks,” says 48-year-old Aravena in an announcement video. “Architecture just tries to give the best possible form for those nouns where those verbs take place. The main character is life itself, part of a cultural heritage of mankind.”
Through his work at ELEMENTAL, an architecture firm and “Do Tank” which he's led as executive director since 2001, Aravena has focused on some of today’s most pressing issues. The firm's mix of private and public commissions address a wide range of concerns, from affordable and social housing, to sustainability and natural disasters, public accessibility, and the belief of architecture as an embodiment of humanity.
Based in Santiago, Chile, Aravena is the country’s first Pritzker Laureate, and joins former awardees Luis Barragan (1980), Oscar Niemeyer (1988), and Paulo Mendes da Rocha (2006) as the fourth laureate from Latin America. A former member of the Pritzker Prize jury, Aravena is also director of “Reporting from the Front,” this year’s Venice Architecture Biennale, opening in May. He will be honored with the award at a formal ceremony at the United Nations Headquarters in New York on April 4.