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Pritzker award, which was won by Balkrishna Doshi this year, is often called architecture’s Nobel and is considered as the profession’s highest honour by the architecture fraternity. In fact, many of the procedures and rewards of the Pritzker Prize are modelled after the Nobel Prize. Laureates of the Pritzker Architecture Prize receive a $100,000 grant, a formal citation certificate, and since 1987, a bronze medallion. Prior to that year, a limited edition Henry Moore sculpture was presented to each Laureate.
Established by the Pritzker family of Chicago through their Hyatt Foundation in 1979, Pritzker prize is awarded each year to a living architect/s for significant achievement. However, in its history of four decades, there is one instance when the prize was awarded to an architect posthumously. Do you know when and why?
Yes, in 2015 Pritzker Prize was awarded to Frei Otto, German architect, after his death. Otto was 89 when he died and the announcement of the award came just two weeks after his death.
Otto, a proponent of making more out of less, has done several landmark projects during his lifetime but he as person used to keep a low profile. Though Otto may not have been a household name, but he was widely esteemed in the profession.
Otto’s stadium roof canopies for the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich were widely admired for their lightness and strength. Otto also collaborated with Shigeru Ban on Japan’s pavilion for the 2000 Hannover Expo in Germany.
Though 2015 Pritzker award was given to Otto posthumously, the jury had taken the decision about this when he was alive. In fact, Martha Thorne, the prize’s executive director, had flown to Stuttgart to inform Otto of the jury’s choice in the beginning of 2015. And the formal announcement was made much later. After all time and death wait none.