Jay A. Pritzker
The Hyatt Foundation
If there’s one thing I’ve discovered in the first decade of the Pritzker Architecture Prize, it’s that architecture has always been the orphaned art. It’s tended to be anonymous throughout history. Few scholars can tell us who designed the Parthenon or the Great Pyramids or many other landmarks of civilization, and yet these and other great structures throughout our history are the books that everyone reads unconsciously and generally remember. It’s not surprising that John Ruskin called architecture the printing press of all ages. We’re all concerned with it and hence the origin of the prize, ten years ago, to encourage great architecture. What is surprising for such an anonymous art is that so much has been written about it by so many. Coleridge said, “Architecture exhibits the greatest extent of the difference from nature that may exist in works of art. It involves all the powers of design and is sculpture and painting inclusively. It shows the greatness of man and should at the same time teach him humility.”
Today in all humility we’re here to honor the greatness of two men. Two masters of modern architecture both of the western hemisphere; one from North America, the other from South America. This is the first time two laureates have been named in the same year but we’re delighted that the jury has used this tenth anniversary to bestow double honors. Each of these laureates is unique. Each uses a different palate to shape their visions of the built environment. Our distinguished laureate from Brazil, Oscar Niemeyer, is perhaps most famous for his country’s capital city, Brasilia. He’s also well known for his work on the UN headquarters. Unfortunately, he couldn’t be with us today but his daughter, Anna Maria and his grandson, Oscar, are here as his representatives. At this time, we’d like to present the symbol of the Pritzker Architecture prize, a medallion derived from designs of one of Chicago’s favorite architects, Louis Sullivan. Anna Maria, would you step forward, please?