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Chilean low-cost, sustainable housing architect wins Pritzker Prize

By Andrew V. Pestano Follow @AVPLive9 Contact the Author   |   Jan. 13, 2016 at 1:17 PM
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CHICAGO, Jan. 13 (UPI) -- The 2016 Pritzker Architecture Prize has been awarded to Chilean architect Alejandro Aravena, who built his career on designing low-cost, sustainable housing with speed and financial efficiency.

Some of Aravena's most well-known projects include the under-construction headquarters for the Novartis pharmaceutical company in Shanghai and a dormitory for St. Edward's University in Austin, Texas.

"Alejandro Aravena has delivered works of architectural excellence in the fields of private, public and educational commissions both in his home country and abroad," the Pritzker Architecture Prize Jury Citation states. "He has undertaken projects of different scales from single-family houses to large institutional buildings ... He understands materials and construction, but also the importance of poetry and the power of architecture to communicate on many levels."

The Pritzker Architecture Prize is often called the Nobel Prize for architects. Aravena becomes the first Chilean and the fourth Latin American Pritzker Laureate.

Alejandro Aravena
Photo courtesy of The Pritzker Prize/The Hyatt Foundation

After receiving notification he won the award, Aravena wished to accept the award collectively -- in respect to all the collaborators who he has worked with and inspired him to design.

"Looking backwards, we feel deeply thankful. No achievement is individual. Architecture is a collective discipline. So we think, with gratitude, of all the people who contributed to give form to a huge diversity of forces at play," Aravena wrote in an email to the Pritzker Prize organization.

Aravena established his own firm in 1994, called Alejandro Aravena Architects, and was later a professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. The award comes with a prize of $100,000.

"Looking into the future we anticipate freedom! The prestige, the reach, the gravitas of the prize is such that we hope to use its momentum to explore new territories, face new challenges, and walk into new fields of action. After such a peak, the path is unwritten. So our plan is not to have a plan, face the uncertain, be open to the unexpected. Finally, looking at the present, we are just overwhelmed, ecstatic, happy. It's time to celebrate and share our joy with as many people as possible," Aravena concludes.

2016 Announcement Video from The Pritzker Architecture Prize on Vimeo.

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