José Rafael Moneo is above all an architect of tremendous range. As an eclectic, defined here as selecting and using what is best from all sources, which includes his own creativity, his flexibility in varying the appearance of his works based on their differing contexts is reflected in the way he takes on each new commission as a fresh exercise. He draws on an incredible reservoir of concepts and ideas which he filters through the specifics of the site, the purpose, the form, the climate and other circumstances of the project. As a result, each of his buildings is unique, but at the same time, uniquely recognizable as being from his palette.
That palette has encompassed the ancient, the Museum of Roman Art at Merida, which is one of his finest accomplishments, to the minimalist monument planned for San Sebastián—two translucent cubes that will house the Kursall Auditorium and Congress Center. There are infinite variations between these two examples, embodied in everything from residences and apartments, to art museums, a railway station, an airport, a factory, a hotel, banks, a city hall and other office buildings. Each of his designs has a confident and timeless quality indicative of a master architect whose talent is obvious from the first concept to the last detail of the completed building.
And the completed building is of utmost importance to Moneo, even to the point of being self-effacing, he believes in the built work, and that once built, the work must stand on its own, a reality that is far more than a translation of the architect's drawings. He regards the materials and techniques of construction to be just as important as the architect's vision and concept, and therefore an integral part of making architecture lasting—another the key attribute that he strives for in his work.
As a writer and critic, devoting almost as much time to education as he does to design, he further shapes the future of architecture with his words. His words as a teacher are most important, influencing faculties and students alike with his steady commitment to the modernist tradition, both in the United States and Spain. In the former, he served as Chairman of the Department of Architecture Harvard Graduate School of Design for five years, and in his native country, on the faculties of both the Madrid and Barcelona Universities.
Moneo's career is the ideal example of knowledge and experience enhancing the mutual interaction of theory, practice and teaching. The Pritzker Architecture Prize honors Moneo for these parallel efforts of the past, present and future.