Arquitectura Viva
Sunday, June 07, 2020

Rafael Moneo, Praemium Imperiale 2017

The new winners of the Praemium Imperiale have been announced. This arts prize has been awarded annually since 1989, by the Imperial House of Japan and the Japan Art Association, to five artists in the categories of Painting, Sculpture, Architecture, Music, and Theater/Film. The laureates each get 15 million yen (approximately 115,000 euros), and this year’s are the painter Shirin Neshat (Iran / United States), the sculptor El Anatsui (Ghana), the composer Youssou N’Dour (Senegal), the dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov (United States / Latvia) for Theater and Film, and Rafael Moneo (Spain) for Architecture.

Born in Tudela (Navarre) in 1937, Moneo adds this distinction to his long list of honors received in the course of his career, notably the Pritzker in 1996, the Mies van der Rohe in 2001, the RIBA Gold Medal in 2003, the Prince of Asturias Award for the Arts in 2012, the Spanish National Prize for Architecture in 2015, and the first Soane Medal in 2017. Rafael Moneo is the only architect from Spain to be given the Praemium Imperiale so far. Other Spaniards who have won the prestigious award are Antoni Tapiès (1990), Eduardo Chillida (1991), and Plácido Domingo (2013).

The influential career of the Navarrese architect is marked by both the intellectual dimension of his works and a pedagogical vocation expressed through a generous devotion to teaching in the schools of Madrid and Barcelona and at Harvard University. His long trajectory since the training stints with Oíza and Utzon includes some vital years spent at the Spanish Academy in Rome, which led him to create a synthesis of modernity and classicism in refined and contextual works like the Bankinter office building in Madrid, the City Hall of Logroño, and the Museum of Roman Art in Mérida, the latter a masterpiece that consolidated his international prestige. All these, like the many later museums – from Stockholm to Houston –, the Kursaal of San Sebastián, the Cathedral of Los Angeles, or the exquisite extention of the City Hall of Murcia, are works which the architect has executed as built lessons, exemplary expressions of a variety of disciplinary problems that he has tackled through the tool that design is.

The awarding ceremony will take place in Tokyo on 18 October 2017.
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