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Ceremony Speech

Cesar Pelli
Chairman of the Jury

Thank you. I am particularly moved tonight by this occasion. I think it is a very important occasion for architecture, the mother of the arts that it is recognized in this manner. I am particularly moved to be here. I think it is very appropriate that architecture, the mother of all arts be honored with this award with which we are celebrating the first annual award. This is thanks to the generosity of the Pritzker Family and the efforts of Mr. Carlton Smith. I am particularly pleased to be here to give, on behalf of the jury, this award to Phillip Johnson, a great architect, a person whom I consider a friend although a friend that I see at some distance because I am always awed by his wit, his brilliance, and his great capability. I think it is very appropriate that he be the very first honored and the first person to receive this award. I will give him three elements here. First of all, a photograph of a sculpture of Henry Moore’s that I guess will be completed in six months, I believe, and will be given to him physically.

Also, this has been written and states; “The Pritzker Architecture Prize, 1979, Phillip Johnson. As a critic and historian championing the cause of modern architecture and then went on to design some of his greatest buildings. Now, in his seventies and the grandest of American architecture’s grand old men, he is leading the way to new discoveries and revising the history he helped to make. Through building and teaching he has made the art of architecture even more important to the public. We honor him for fifty years of imagination embodied in the beautiful museums, theaters, offices, houses, and gardens he has given us.”