Today, on 97.5 KBU FM, and everywhere on radiomalibu.net and select websites, a departure from the usual touting of cultural attractions in and around Los Angeles, to comment on the recent awarding of the 2016 Pritzker Prize, the highest honor in architecture, to Alejandro Aravena.
Not only is the award noteworthy this year for tapping a relatively unknown designer in Chile, –most previous honorees have been from mainstream United States and western Europe – but for its focus on social housing.
This really sets Aravena apart, declared the Pritzker jury. which this year included the British Richard Rogers and U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Beyer. The prize comes with a $100,000 award but perhaps more importantly is usually followed with a swarm of international commissions.
If so, it will hopefully lend additional attention to the groundswell here and broad for affordable, well designed, user-friendly housing, that also serves and involves the communities where located.
The 48 year old Aravena – that is relatively young for an accomplished architect,– is best know for his modestly inexpensive residential projects, and his commitment to create sustainable, affordable and resilent cities.
In the past, with a few exceptions, the focus of the designs of the architects honored have been on flashy forms and iconic buidings, stand out projects that generated media attention for its sponsors and celebrity status for its architects.
This increasingly high end bent in the profession was duly noted by this year’s intrepid Pritzker jury, which in a statement prefacing the award declared –quote:
The role of the architect is now being challenged to serve greater social and humanitarian needs, and Alejandro Aravena has clearly, generously and fully responded to this challenge. Unquote.
The statement and award frankly warms my heart, for in the years past as an urban affairs reporter for the New York Times ,and later as the architecture and urban design critic for the L.A. Times, I immodestly spotlighted social housing .
The definition I cited in my writings and teaching over the years was that first and foremost, architecture is a social art, used to create spaces and places for human endeavor.
I still believe that. Thank you, Pritzker jury , for remind me of that
I’m Sam Hall Kaplan, and is the arts and entertainment observed, heard locally on 97.5 KBU, everywhere on radiomalibu.net, and read on cityobserved.com and discerning websites.