Six Women Who Have Changed The Game In Architecture: Pritzker Prize Laureates

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The Pritzker prize was founded in 1979 by Jay A. Pritzker and his wife Cindy.The award was established with a $100,000 endowment provided by the Pritzker family.Jay and Cindy Pritzker believed that a prize that recognized excellence in architecture would encourage public awareness as well as spark creativity among architects.

In the field of architecture, the Pritzker Prize is considered the most important award. It recognizes a living architect whose built work has produced consistent and significant contributions to humanity through the art of architecture.

The Pritzker Prize is awarded “irrespective of nationality, race, creed, or ideology.”

Only six women have won the Pritzker from 1979 and all six have made a significant impact on architecture in the 20th century and beyond by combining traditional architectural ideas with nontraditional materials or methods.

Zaha Hadid ( 2004):

Zaha Hadid is known for her works that consistently push boundaries. Her designs were characterized by futuristic and innovative forms of contemporary architecture. She experiments with new spatial concepts and designs for all scales, from the urban to interiors and furniture. Hadid is well-known for several of her significant built works, such as The Vitra Fire Station (1993) in Weil am Rhein, Germany, the Mind Zone at the Millennium Dome (1999) in Greenwich, UK and the ski jump (2002) in Innsbruck, Austria. She has also taught at several prominent institutions, including Columbia University, Yale University, Harvard University, the University of Illinois at Chicago and the University of Applied Arts in Vienna.

Kazuyo Sejima (2010):

Sejima has designed many buildings in Japan using concrete and steel. These buildings’ simple lines can be massive even skyscraper-sized or small enough to fit into tight spaces. They often use different colors of concrete for each building so that it fits into its surroundings more easily. They are also known for designing houses that can be folded into boxes for easy transportation and assembly.

Sejima often worked with her husband, Ryue Nishizawa, who is also an architect. The two are known for their highly collaborative approach to designing buildings, often involving community members in the design process.

Carme Pigem(2017)

Her designs often use both large-scale abstract shapes as well as brightly colored structures that are meant to be seen from great distances. They are also known for their use of various materials such as metal, glass, or plastic.

Her work shows an unyielding commitment to place, which manifests in emotionally and experientially rich architecture. By harmonizing materiality with transparency and advocating for connections between the exterior and interior, Pigem creates spaces that are in dialogue with their respective contexts.

Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara (2020):

Lauded for their use of innovative materials and unconventional forms, Farrell and McNamara have designed some of Ireland’s most prominent buildings, including Bordeaux House in Dublin, which features an audacious cantilevered structure; the National Maritime Museum in Galway, with its sloping roofs; and the Irish Film Institute in Dublin, a former post office building that was fully restored to house an arts center with a 2,000-person capacity screening room.

According to Pritzker, the collaboration between Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara represents an interconnectivity between equals. The architects demonstrate incredible strength in their architecture, create a sense of intimacy through their designs no matter the size of the building, respond to each project with honesty, and exceed expectations in their work.

Building on the firm belief that there is no one way to achieve architectural greatness, five women have made a significant impact on architecture in the 20th century and beyond.

Anne Lacaton(2021):

Lacaton defined an architectural approach that renewed the legacy of modernism, while also proposing an adjusted definition of the profession of architecture. The modernist hopes and dreams to improve the lives of many are reinvigorated through their work that responds to climatic and ecological emergencies, as well as social urgencies in the realm of urban housing. She accomplishes this through a powerful sense of space and materials that creates architecture as strong in its forms as in its convictions, as transparent in its aesthetic as in its ethics.

Written by Rithanya Sekar

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