Pritzker Architecture Prize 
Laureate  2003
Jørn Utzon

Award Announcement

Danish Architect Jørn Utzon
Becomes 2003 Pritzker
Architecture Prize Laureate


Los Angeles, CA—Danish architect Jørn Utzon, who designed what has arguably become the most famous building in the world, the Sydney Opera House in Australia, has been chosen as the 2003 Laureate of the Pritzker Architecture Prize which marks its 25th anniversary this year. The 84 year old Utzon has retired to a house he designed for himself on the island of Majorca, but his two sons, Jan and Kim, continue the practice of Utzon Architects in Haarby, Denmark.

In announcing the jury’s choice, Thomas J. Pritzker, president of The Hyatt Foundation, said, “Jørn Utzon has designed a remarkably beautiful building in Australia that has become a national symbol to the rest of the world. In addition, in a most distinguished career, he has designed several other significant works, including housing complexes, a church, residences, and other commercial buildings. We are delighted that the jury has seen fit to recognize this great talent as we celebrate our first quarter of a century.”

Pritzker Prize jury chairman, Lord Rothschild, commented, “Jørn Utzon created one of the great iconic buildings of the 20th century, an image of great beauty known throughout the world. In addition to this masterpiece, he has worked throughout his life fastidiously, brilliantly, quietly and with never a false or jarring note. He is therefore a most distinguished recipient of the Pritzker Prize.”

The formal ceremony for what has come to be known throughout the world as architecture's highest honor will be held on May 20, 2003 in Madrid, Spain. At that time, a $100,000 grant and a bronze medallion are bestowed. Utzon is the first Dane to become a Pritzker Laureate, and the 27th honoree since the prize was established in 1979.
His selection continues what has become a ten-year trend of laureates from the international community.

Bill Lacy, an architect, spoke as the executive director of the Pritzker Prize, quoting from the jury citation which states, “Utzon has always been ahead of his time. He rightly joins the handful of Modernists who have shaped the past century with buildings of timeless and enduring quality.”

Ada Louise Huxtable, architecture critic and member of the jury, commented further saying, “It has taken half a century to understand the true path of architecture in our time, to pick up the threads of continuity and the signposts to the future, to recognize the broader and deeper meaning of 20th century work that has been subjected to doctrinaire modernist criticism and classification, or tabled as history.
In this light, the work of Jørn Utzon takes on a particular richness and significance.”

Another juror, Carlos Jimenez from Houston who is professor of architecture at Rice University, said, “Singular is an attribute that embodies the life and work of Jørn Utzon. The unique resolve and erudition of this architect’s few but compelling works have captured the imagination of architects and the public alike ever since his brilliant
debut in the international scene almost fifty years ago. ”
And from juror Jorge Silvetti, who chairs the Department of Architecture, Graduate School of Design at Harvard University, “Paradoxically, while the act of awarding in 2003 the Pritzker Prize to Jørn Utzon may be perceived as long overdue, it comes at such a particular moment in the development of architecture as to be timely and exemplary. In the current frenzy of unbound personal expressionism and blind subordination to attention-grabbing production techniques, his explorations remind us that both ‘expression and technique’ are servants and secondary to more profound and foundational architectural ideas. His work shows us that the marvelous and seemingly ‘impossible’ in architecture depend still on genial minds and able hands."”

The purpose of the Pritzker Architecture Prize is to honor annually a living architect whose built work demonstrates a combination of those qualities of talent, vision and commitment, which has produced consistent and significant contributions to humanity and the built environment through the art of architecture.

The distinguished jury that selected Utzon as the 2003 Laureate consists of its chairman, Lord Rothschild, former chairman of the National Heritage Memorial Fund of Great Britain and formerly the chairman of that country's National Gallery of Art; and alphabetically: the late Giovanni Agnelli, chairman emeritus of Fiat from Torino, Italy; Frank Gehry, architect and 1989 Pritzker Laureate; Ada Louise Huxtable, author and architectural critic of New York; Carlos Jimenez, professor at Rice University School of Architecture, and principal, Carlos Jimenez Studio Houston, Texas; Jorge Silvetti, chairman, department of architecture, Harvard University Graduate School of Design.

The prize presentation ceremony moves to different locations around the world each year, paying homage to historic and contemporary architecture. Last year, the ceremony was held in Michelangelo’s Campidoglio in Rome, Italy. In 2001, Charlottesville, Virginia at Thomas Jefferson's home, Monticello was the venue. In 2000, the
ceremony was held in Jerusalem in the Archaeological Park surrounding the Dome of the Rock.

Philip Johnson was the first Pritzker Laureate in 1979. The late Luis Barragán of Mexico was named in 1980. The late James Stirling of Great Britain was elected in 1981, Kevin Roche in 1982, Ieoh Ming Pei in 1983, and Richard Meier in 1984. Hans Hollein of Austria was the 1985 Laureate. Gottfried Boehm of Germany received the prize in 1986. Kenzo Tange was the first Japanese architect to receive the prize in 1987; Fumihiko Maki was the second from Japan in 1993; and Tadao Ando the third in 1995. Robert Venturi received the honor in 1991, and Alvaro Siza of Portugal in 1992. Christian de Portzamparc of France was elected Pritzker Laureate in 1994. The late Gordon Bunshaft of the United States and Oscar Niemeyer of Brazil, were named in 1988. Frank Gehry was the recipient in 1989, the late Aldo Rossi of Italy in 1990. In 1996, Rafael Moneo of Spain was the Laureate; in 1997 Sverre Fehn of Norway; in 1998 Renzo Piano of Italy, in 1999 Sir Norman Foster of the UK, and in 2000, Rem Koolhaas of the Netherlands. In 2001, two architects from Switzerland received the honor: Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron. Last year’s laureate was Australian Glenn Murcutt.

The field of architecture was chosen by the Pritzker family because of their keen interest in building due to their involvement with developing the Hyatt Hotels around the world; also because architecture was a creative endeavor not included in the Nobel Prizes. The procedures were modeled after the Nobels, with the final selection being made by the international jury with all deliberations and voting in secret. Nominations are continuous from year to year with hundreds of nominees from countries all around the world being considered each year.

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