Rogers Wins Pritzker

London-based Richard Rogers scoops architecture's most prestigious prize

Richard Rogers is this year’s winner of the Pritzker Architecture Prize, the profession’s highest honor, the Hyatt Foundation announced today. The 73-year-old architect heads the Richard Rogers Partnership, which he established in London 30 years ago. Jurors praised his work as representing “defining moments in the history of contemporary architecture.&rdquo

One of Rogers’s best-known works is also among his earliest: the Centre Georges Pompidou, in Paris, of 1977, designed with Renzo Piano. Rogers and Piano, who were then in partnership together, won the commission after an international competition in 1971. As Pritzker jurors observed, the Pompidou’s striking appearance—with a facade dominated by HVAC conduits, escalators, and other service elements typically relegated to a building’s core—“revolutionized museums, transforming what had once been elite monuments into popular places of social and cultural exchange.” Another early work, the Lloyd’s of London office tower, completed in 1986, displayed a similar inside-out sensibility and cemented Rogers’s reputation for expressionist architecture.

Born in Florence, Italy, Rogers trained at the Architectural Association in London and earned his master’s degree in architecture from Yale University. There his path crossed with a number of other design giants: Paul Rudolph, who headed the architecture school; James Stirling, who taught Rogers; and Norman Foster, a fellow student with whom he opened a practice after the pair graduated and returned to England.

Although Rogers’s recent works, such as London’s Millennium Dome, in 2000, and Terminal 4 at the Madrid Barajas Airport, which opened in 2005, continue to display his flair for showcasing the purely functional elements of a building, he has increasingly concerned himself with larger scales—both urban and global. “Cities are where life is most precarious; they are also where we have the greatest tangible opportunity for improvement, intervention, and change,” he said in a 1995 lecture.

In addition to serving as the mayor of London’s chief adviser for architecture and urbanism, Rogers chaired the United Kingdom’s Urban Task Force. Established in 1998, this group studied the causes of urban decline and outlined the groundwork for creating a future urban renaissance. Describing this vision, Rogers observed that tomorrow’s cities “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.”

Rogers, made a British lord in 1996, is the fourth U.K.-based architect to win the Pritzker in its 28-year history; the other three were Zaha Hadid, Foster, and Stirling. He will receive the honor, which comes with a $100,000 grant, at a ceremony in London this June.