The First Chinese Architect Won the Pritzker Prize

The First Chinese Architect Won the Pritzker Prize

2012 Pritzker prize awarded to Wang Shu - first Chinese architect to win the award, reported the official site of Pritzker Prize. Wang Shu runs Amateur Architecture Studio with his wife Lu Wenyu out of Hangzhou and is also the head of the Architecture Department of the China Academy of Art. A 48-year-old architect earned his first degree in architecture at the Nanjing Institute of Technology Department of Architecture in 1985, and then three years later he received his Masters Degree from the same institute. From there he went to work for the Zhejiang Academy of Fine Arts in Hangzhou doing research on the environment and architecture in relation to the renovation of old buildings.

In 1990 he completed his first architectural work - a 3.6 thousand square meter Youth Center in Haining, but it was not until 1997 when he and his wife, Lu Wenyu, founded their professional practice, which they named Amateur Architecture Studio. Although he is certainly no amateur, Wang named it thus because the definition of amateur means someone who does something purely out of pleasure rather than it just being work. Three years later in 2000, he completed his first major project, the Library of Wenzheng College at Suzhou University. Over the next decade Wang and his firm have completed a number of large-scale projects including museums, apartment buildings, and university campuses. Some of Wang Shu's most well known projects include the Library of Wenzheng College at Suzhou University, the Ningbo Contemporary Art Museum, the Ningbo History Museum, phase 1 and 2 of the Xingshan Campus of the China Academy of Art, and the Vertical Courtyard Apartments.

Throughout his work Wang has paid close attention to the environment, the building's relationship to its site and surroundings, and the use of materials. In his project for the Xingshan Campus of the China Academy of Art, he salvaged over two million tiles from demolished traditional houses to cover the roofs of the campus buildings. Since 2000, Wang Shu has been the head of the Architecture Department of the China Academy of Art in Hangzhou. Last year, he became the first Chinese architect to hold the position of "Kenzo Tange Visiting Professor" at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. He has been a frequent visiting professor at UCLA, Harvard, the University of Texas, and the University of Pennsylvania. He has also received other awards including the 2004 Architecture Art Award of China, a Holcim Award for Sustainable Construction in the Asia-Pacific region, the 2010 Schelling Architecture Prize, and the 2011 French Gold Medal from the Academy of Architecture.

Upon learning of his award, Wang Shu said, "This is really a big surprise. I am tremendously honored to receive the Pritzker architecture Prize. I suddenly realized that I've done many things over the last decade. It proves that earnest hard work and persistence lead to positive outcomes."

The Pritzker Architecture Prize is awarded annually by the Hyatt Foundation to honour "a living architect whose built work demonstrates a combination of those qualities of talent, vision and commitment, which has produced consistent and significant contributions to humanity and the built environment through the art of architecture". Founded in 1979 by Jay A. Pritzker and his wife Cindy, the award is funded by the Pritzker family and is considered to be one of the world's premier architecture prizes; it is often referred to as the Nobel Prize of architecture. The Pritzker Prize won such architectures, as Frank Gehry, Norman Foster, Renzo Piano, Zaha Hadid, Jean Nouvel and so on.

Wang Shu will be formally honored with the presentation of the Pritzker Prize, the bronze medallion, and a US$ 100 thousand grant on May 25th in Beijing.