The architect who designed the new Aspen Art Museum, Shigeru Ban, recently was announced as the recipient of the 2014 Pritzker Architecture Prize.
The Pritzker Architecture Prize is known internationally as architecture’s highest honor, or the equivalent of a Nobel Prize for architects. It is presented annually to a living architect whose built work demonstrates a combination of talent, vision and commitment and who has produced consistent and significant contributions to humanity and the built environment through the art of architecture.
The announcement came Monday from Thomas J. Pritzker, chairman of The Hyatt Foundation.
For 20 years, Ban, 56, has traveled to sites of natural and man-made disasters around the world to work with residents, volunteers and students to design and construct simple, low-cost, recyclable shelters and community buildings for the disaster victims.
According to the Pritzker Prize website, Ban was reached in Paris on Monday and said, “Receiving this prize is a great honor, and with it, I must be careful. I must continue to listen to the people I work for, in my private residential commissions and in my disaster-relief work. I see this prize as encouragement for me to keep doing what I am doing — not to change what I am doing but to grow.”
Jay A. Pritzker and his wife, Cindy, established the prize in 1979. Pritzker Architecture Prize laureates receive a $100,000 grant and a bronze medallion, which will be presented during a ceremony in June.
The new Aspen Art Museum facility, which is under construction and will open to the public on Aug. 9, is Ban’s first U.S. museum to be constructed. After an international search in 2007, the Aspen Art Museum’s Architect Selection Committee unanimously chose Shigeru Ban Architects for the project.
“We are extremely proud to be closely affiliated with an architect whose work not only embodies the award criteria so perfectly but whose humanity imbues each of his endeavors so thoroughly and whose humility is a constant reminder of how grace and greatness can coexist,” said Heidi Zuckerman Jacobson, Aspen Art Museum CEO and director. “I spoke with Shigeru Monday and have been telling him for years he would win the Pritzker Prize for the new Aspen museum. He kept saying ‘no,’ but when I called him Monday, he said I was half right. When our selection committee interviewed him here in 2007, he spent the first 45 minutes talking about his humanitarian work and showing images of that. When the committee went into deliberations, his generosity towards humanity and how those values matched up with ours as an institution was the main thing people talked about.”
When the Aspen Art Museum opens in August, the first exhibition on display will be “Shigeru Ban: Humanitarian Architecture,” showcasing five structures Ban designed in disaster areas as well as displaying every other humanitarian project he worked on through models, drawings and photographs.