Swiss architects honoured in US

De Meuron (left) and Herzog are the first Swiss winners of the Pritzker Prize Keystone Archive

The Basel-based architects Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron have been named as this year's recipients of architecture's most prestigious award, the Pritzker Prize. They are the first Swiss citizens to win the award since it was set up in 1979.

This content was published on April 2, 2001 - 08:52

The $100,000 (SFr173,000) prize - regarded as the Nobel prize for architecture - is awarded annually by the Hyatt Foundation in Los Angeles in recognition of architectural work combining "talent, vision and commitment". Herzog and de Meuron will receive their prize at a ceremony in Virginia on May 7.

The two architects won international fame with their conversion of an abandoned London power plant into the towering museum of modern art, the Tate Modern. The new gallery opened last year to much critical acclaim.

The Pritzker jury said they had been impressed by the pair's ingenuity and imagination.

"What we found to be most compelling or fascinating about their work is the capacity that it has to astonish," jury member Carlos Jimenez said. "They are able to transform rather ordinary shapes, conditions or materials into something that becomes truly extraordinary."

The two architects, who have been friends since their schooldays, set up their company, Herzog and de Meuron, in Basel in 1978. Since then they have collaborated on a wide range of projects including the Institute for Clinical Pharmacy in Basel and the Dominus winery in California's Napa Valley.

De Meuron attributes their success as a team to the fact that he and his partner complement each other well. "Jacques' strengths are my weaknesses, and his weaknesses are my strengths," he said.

The two architects are currently working on several high-profile US projects - the expansion of the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, the new de Young Memorial Museum in San Francisco, and the Astor Hotel in Manhattan, a joint project with last year's Pritzker Prize winner, Rem Koolhas.

swissinfo with agencies

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