Page N1.2 . 04 April 2007                     
ArchitectureWeek - News Department
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Richard Rogers Pritzker Prize


Rogers says his vision is that cities of the future "will no longer be zoned as today in isolated one-activity ghettos; rather they will resemble the more richly layered cities of the past. Living, work, shopping, learning, and leisure will overlap and be housed in continuous, varied, and changing structures."

As early as 1980, he was talking about social and environmental issues in ways that now seem prescient. In Contemporary Architects, he was quoted as saying; "Technology cannot be an end in itself but must aim at solving long-term social and ecological problems. This is impossible in a world where short-term profit for the 'haves' is seen as a goal, at the expense of developing more efficient technology for the 'have nots.'

He continues: "All forms of technology from low energy intensive to high energy intensive must aim at conserving natural resources while minimizing ecological, visual, and social damage to the environment, so that by using as little material as possible, as functionally as possible, to answer new briefs, we reach a self-sustaining situation where input equals output."

Training and Influences

Rogers was born in Italy in 1933, and educated at the Architectural Association in London and at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. At Yale, with fellow student Norman Foster, he studied under noted architects Paul Rudolph and James Stirling.

While in the United States, Rogers developed an interest in Frank Lloyd Wright, and he traveled widely to visit Wright's works and those of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Louis Kahn, Rudolph Schindler, Pierre Koenig, and Craig Ellwood.

When they returned to England, Foster and Rogers, with Wendy Cheeseman and Rogers's wife Susan Brumwell, formed Team 4 as their first architectural practice. They designed several houses, including Creek Vean, a home for Brumwell's parents, housing projects, and the Reliance Controls Electronics Factory at Swindon. Team 4 dissolved in 1967 and Rogers and Foster each formed their own firms.

By 1971, Rogers had partnered with Renzo Piano, and together they won the international design competition for the Centre Pompidou. This was to be a million-square-foot (93,000-square-meter) cultural center housing four distinct activities: a museum of modern art, a library, center for industrial design, and a center for music and acoustic research.

The Pritzker jury says the Centre Pompidou, completed in 1977, "revolutionized museums, transforming what had once been elite monuments into popular places of social and cultural exchange, woven into the heart of the city."

Rogers established the London-based Richard Rogers Partnership in 1977. He then began work on Lloyd's of London, completed in 1986, which became another landmark of late 20th-century design. This highrise building, says the jury, established his "reputation as a master not only of the large urban building, but also of his own brand of architectural expressionism."

Both Centre Pompidou and Lloyds are characterized by boldly exposed mechanical and structural infrastructure. Of this, the jury remarks: "Rogers combines his love of architecture with a profound knowledge of building materials and techniques. His fascination with technology is not merely for artistic effect, but more importantly, it is a clear echo of a building's program and a means to make architecture more productive for those it serves. His championing of energy efficiency and sustainability has had a lasting effect on the profession."

Rogers was appointed a Labour life peer in 1996. His firm, which will be renamed Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners in April 2007, also has offices in Barcelona, Madrid, and Tokyo.

Ahead of His Time

In 1995, during a lecture series for the BBC, Rogers spoke passionately about the environmental crisis that many people are only now acknowledging. He observed: "Human life has always depended on the three variables of population, resources, and environment. But today, we're perhaps the first generation to face the simultaneous impact of expanding populations, depletion of resources, and erosion of the environment. All this is common knowledge, and yet, incredibly, industrial expansion carries on regardless."

He continued: "Historically, societies unable to solve their environmental crises have either migrated or become extinct. The vital difference today is that the scale of our crisis is no longer regional but global: it involves all of humanity and the entire planet."

The awarding of this important prize will help him spread this message. In addition to the Pritzker, Rogers also received the Japanese Praemium Imperiale in 2000, The Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation Medal in 1999, the Arnold W. Brunner Memorial Prize from the American Academy & Institute of Arts and Letters in 1989, the Royal Gold Medal for Architecture in 1985.

The formal ceremony for presenting the award will be held on June 4, 2007 in London.

The jury for the 2007 Pritzker Architecture Prize includes chairman, Lord Palumbo, trustee chairman of the Serpentine Gallery; architect Shigeru Ban, Tokyo; architect Balkrishna Vithaldas Doshi, Ahmedabad, India; Rolf Fehlbaum, chairman of the board of Vitra, Basel, Switzerland; Carlos Jimenez, professor at Rice University School of Architecture in Houston, Texas; Victoria Newhouse architectural historian and author, New York; Renzo Piano, architect and Pritzker Laureate, of Paris and Genoa; and Karen Stein, editorial director of Phaidon Press, New York. Martha Thorne, formerly a curator of architecture at the Art Institute of Chicago, is executive director.   >>>

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Centre Pompidou in Paris, designed by Pritzker laureates Richard Rogers (2007) and Renzo Piano (1998).
Photo: Katsuhisa Kida

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Centre Pompidou: drawing made for the original competition.
Image: Richard Rogers Partnership

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Lloyd's of London (1986), by Richard Rogers.
Photo: Richard Bryant/ Arcaid, Courtesy Richard Rogers Partnership

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Lloyd's of London.
Image: Richard Rogers Partnership

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Lloyd's of London, hi-tech modern.
Photo: Donald Corner and Jenny Young, Artifice Images

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Section through the Millennium Dome, London (1999).
Image: Richard Rogers Partnership

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Millennium Dome plan.
Image: Richard Rogers Partnership

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Millennium Dome structure at the perimeter.
Image: Richard Rogers Partnership


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