This year’s Pritzker Prize, architecture’s most prestigious award, was given to David Chipperfield, the British architect whose built oeuvre includes some of the world’s most recognisable and revered art museums.
Chipperfield is the prize’s 52nd laureate, and previous winners include Zaha Hadid, Richard Rogers and Arata Isozaki. Last year’s winner was the Berkiné German architect Diébédo Francis Kéré. Chipperfield was praised by the Pritzker Architecture Prize jury for his “understated but transformative” civic architecture and commitment to sustainability and public spaces.
“The careful, well-crafted, precise and calm responses he has offered to the goals aspired to in his buildings can only originate in a deep and sustained knowledge of the discipline. Yet, those responses are never self-centred, nor do they serve in any way as art for art’s sake: rather, they always remained focused on the higher purpose of the undertaking and on the pursuit of civic and public good,” the jury wrote in its citation, announced on Tuesday (7 March).
Chipperfield said in a statement that he is taking the prestigious award as encouragement to continue to focus on how architecture can “address the existential challenges of climate change and societal inequality”.
“As architects, we can have a more prominent and engaged role in creating not only a more beautiful world, but a fairer and more sustainable one too,” Chipperfield added. “We must rise to this challenge and help inspire the next generation to embrace this responsibility with vision and courage.”
Over a career that has spanned nearly a half-century, Chipperfield has completed more than 100 projects across Asia, Europe and North America. He won a contest in 1997 to lead the reconstruction of the Neues Museum in Berlin, which had been damaged by a bomb during the Second World War, and later designed the James Simon Galerie, which serves as a gateway to the city’s Museum Island.
He was also tapped to design Mexican fruit juice heir Eugenio López Alonso’s contemporary art museum in Mexico City, Museo Jumex, which opened in 2013. He also designed the new East Building wing of the St Louis Art Museum.
Chipperfield was tasked with restoring and renovating the north side of the Procuratie Vecchie, the buildings that line Saint Mark's Square in Venice, Italy, the oldest of which dates back to the early 16th century. Chipperfield used traditional craftsmen to revive the buildings’ original frescoes and floors while equipping the redeveloped sections with better views and more space.
“We do not see an instantly recognizable David Chipperfield building in different cities, but different David Chipperfield buildings designed specifically for each circumstance,” the prize’s jury wrote in the citation. “Each asserts its presence even as his buildings create new connections with the neighbourhood.”
Chipperfield also designed the BBC Scotland headquarters in Glasgow, which opened in 2007, Margate’s Turner Contemporary, which opened in 2011, and East West Yorkshire's Hepworth Wakefield, which also opened in 2011. He led an expansion of London’s Royal Academy of Arts that was completed in 2018 and designed a major addition to Kunsthaus Zürich in Switzerland, which was inaugurated in 2020.
Chipperfield is based in London and his firm also has offices in Berlin, Milan, Shanghai and Santiago de Compostela, Spain. The 2023 Pritzker Prize ceremony will be held in May in Athens, where Chipperfield will lead the expansion of the National Archaeological Museum. The announcement of his selection last month was met with protests in Athens over the government’s plan to remove museums from civil service oversight, sparking fears they could be privatised.