Sponsored by The Hyatt Foundation

Ceremony Speech

Jay A. Pritzker
The Hyatt Foundation

First I want to express our thanks to our jurors who undertake the herculean task of annually selecting an honoree from hundreds of nations around the world. I also want to welcome our new juror, Giovanni Agnelli, the eminent industrialist from Turin, Italy. Unfortunately, Mr. Ricardo Legorreta, the architect from Mexico City, our other new juror was unable to be with us this evening. Perhaps, it’s appropriate to comment on the significance of this location for this year’s presentation. The space we’re dining in was designed by Kevin Roche, last year’s prize winner, and Kevin, I wish you would also design some squeak proof chairs. We could use them. Perhaps the analogy is strange but we have here in the Temple of Dendera, a work preserved for many millennia by an unknown architect. Even today despite their enormous influence on our everyday lives, the designers of our contemporary buildings remain largely anonymous. Perhaps architecture is the most pertinent and significant of our art forms. I presume there are people here who would debate that but it’s certainly the only one in which the creator is not an everyday name. One of the purposes of presenting these awards was to attempt to end such anonymity.

As if in anticipation of tonight’s presentation, the late Lord Clark of Saltwood who was one of our original jurors said, “A great historical episode can exist in our imaginations almost entirely in the form of architecture. Very few of us have read the texts of early Egyptian literature. Yet we feel we know those infinitely remote people almost as well as our immediate ancestors chiefly because of their sculpture and their architecture.” There’s little doubt that our civilization will be judged in the future at least to some degree by the endeavors of men like Philip Johnson, Luis Barragán, James Stirling and Kevin Roche. Tonight we add another illustrious name to that roster, Ieoh Ming Pei. We’re all grateful for his efforts throughout the world in making the present more beautiful and livable. Ieoh Ming, if you’ll come forward I would like to present the symbol of the Pritzker Prize, a bronze sculpture created by your friend, Henry Moore.