SANTA MONICA, CALIFORNIA - Thom Mayne, an architect known for his
convention-bending designs, has won architecture's most prestigious prize.
Mayne, 61, is the first American to win the Pritzker Prize in 14 years. The
honour was announced on Sunday. The Pritzker, sponsored by the Hyatt
Foundation and named for the family that founded the hotel chain, comes
with a $100,000 grant and a bronze medallion.
The jury cited Mayne for creating a bold architectural style that reflects
the "unique, somewhat rootless, culture of Southern California through
angular lines and an unfinished, open-ended feel," according to the
Associated Press. Mayne did not win international acclaim until the 1990s,
when his designs began to be embraced from New York to California and
Taiwan to Spain. For two decades he worked on relatively small projects
from his Santa Monica studio, Morphosis.
Mayne's unorthodox approach to design was influenced by the rebelliousness
of the 1960s. His refusal to compromise alienated clients and colleagues.
Fired from a teaching job at California State Polytechnic University at
Pomona, Mayne helped found an alternative architecture school called
Southern California Institute of Architecture, SCI-Arc, in 1972. He has
since won competitions and commissions for an array of major public
projects, including the University of Toronto graduate residence in
Toronto, which opened in 2000.
He designed the new Alaska state capitol building, New York's 2012 Olympic
Village, the Hypo Alpe-Adria Centre in Klagenfurt, Austria; the ASE Design
Centre in Taipei and a social housing project slated for completion next
year in Madrid. Mayne says his design attempts to resolve the tension of
living in a diverse, migratory society. Wings protrude at odd angles,
lines and forms collide and whole buildings are slanted to reflect the
landscape, man-made or natural, around them. "If there's a singular broad
topic to being a human being today, it's that you somehow have to manage
these radical non-sequiters, these conflicting desires," Mayne said.
Past winners of the Pritzker Prize include I.M. Pei, Frank Gehry, Renzo
Piano and Rem Koolhaas.