Tuesday, March 29, 2011

"he was intensely out of fashion"

It's time for one of architecture's rites of spring: reading the Pritzker Prize tea leaves.

So what can we glean from the news that 58-year-old Portuguese architect Eduardo Souto de Moura, barely known outside the profession, was on Monday named the winner of this year's Pritzker, the field's top honor?

Taken on its own, the award seems most clearly to honor Souto de Moura's unwavering commitment over the course of his career to a tough, muscular brand of Minimalist architecture. The seven-member Pritzker jury — which this year included the architects Renzo Piano, Glenn Murcutt and Alejandro Aravena — stressed that Souto de Moura's recent work remains very close in spirit and approach to his earliest projects, from the 1980s, which went against the grain of the decorative Postmodernism then on the rise.

As a young architect, the jury noted, Souto de Moura "was intensely out of fashion. … As we look back today, the early buildings may seem normal, but we must remember how brave they really were back then."

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