Architecture's Top Prize Goes to a Relatively Unknown Trio From Spain

The Pritzker Prize, sometimes called the Nobel Prize of architecture, was announced this week, going to Spanish firm RCR Arquitectes.
March 2, 2017, 2pm PST | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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El Petit Comte Kindergarten, 2010, Besalú, Girona, Spain.
Hisao Suzuki

"For the first time, three architects have jointly won the Pritzker Architecture Prize, the field's highest honor," reports Blair Kamin. "A relatively unknown team from Spain, two men and a woman, are the 2017 honorees, the prize's organizers announced Wednesday."

"Making their selection doubly unusual, the architects — Rafael Aranda, Carme Pigem and Ramon Vilalta — practice not in a glittering metropolitan center but in the small Catalonian city of Olot, some 70 miles northeast of Barcelona," adds Kamin.

As usual, the design media covered the news of the Pritzker Prize widely. Christopher Hawthorne wrote an article noticing that the selection of RCR Arquitectes "seems a pointed response to globalization and the contemporary political climate." Hawthorne cited the award jury itself for the connection—the jury described the firm's work as an "approach that creates buildings and places that are both local and universal at the same time." Hawthorne expands that central conceit by saying the jury citation in announcing that award "suggests that the fear underlying those [Brexit and presidential election] votes is not only justified but might be addressed and even tempered by a different approach to cultural production, beginning with architecture." The work of RCR, according to the jury, offers a bridge between the local and the global.

Nicki Mafi provides additional coverage of the Pritzker Prize jury's reasoning for the selection, describing RCR's work as "an embrace of multiculturalism through the prism of design." Mafi notes that the award has never gone to a trio, and thus "the Pritzker jury acknowledged the importance of collaboration in an increasingly divided world."

For articles focusing more on the results of RCR's labor, see a "project roundup" with lots of full-sized, colorful images, in designboom. Dezeen also shares and comments on four short films produced by the Pritzker Prize, the first of which can be viewed below.

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Published on Wednesday, March 1, 2017 in The Pritzker Architecture Prize
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