The Pritzer Architecture Prize, the profession’s most prestigious award, has been given to Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa, partners in the Tokyo–based architecture firm SANAA. In a citation that lauded the pair for their ability to create buildings where the “physical presence retreats and forms a sensuous background for people, objects, activities, and landscapes,” the jury noted that their architecture stands “in direct contrast with the bombastic and rhetorical.”
Formed in 1995, SANAA’s projects have included the New Museums new building, the Toledo Museum of Arts Glass Pavilion, and the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art in Kanazawa, Japan. The Pritzker jury, which included 1998 Pritzker winner Renzo Piano and seven other architects, wrote that SANAA’s buildings “never lose the natural and meaningful connection with their surroundings,” noting that the “New Museum in New York feels at home in the rough Bowery area of the city.
The pair have maintained a busy architecture practice in recent years. Their new Rolex Learning Center in Lausanne, Switzerland, opened earlier this year, and they are currently at work designing a satellite branch of Paris’s Louvre museum for Lens, France. Sejima was also recently named director of the 2010 Venice Architecture Biennial, becoming the first woman to hold the position.
Previous Pritzker winners have included many of the profession’s leading architects, including Philip Johnson (the first recipient, in 1979), Richard Meier, and Swiss duo Herzog & de Meuron, who were the last partners to share the prize.