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.