The architecture of Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron combines the artistry of an age-old profession with the fresh approach of a new century’s technical capabilities. Both architects' roots in European tradition are combined with current technology in extraordinarily inventive architectural solutions to their clients' needs that range from a modest switching station for trains to an entirely new approach to the design of a winery.
The catalogue of their work reflects this diversity of interest and accomplishment. Through their houses, municipal and business structures, museums and master planning, they display a sure command of their design talent that has resulted in a distinguished body of completed projects.
The beginnings of most architects’ practices consists by necessity of small projects with budgets to match. It is these early buildings with great constraints that test an architect’s talent for original solutions to often ordinary and utilitarian commissions. In the case of Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron, the railroad signal box was such a project. They transformed a nondescript structure in a railroad yard into a dramatic and artistic work of industrial architecture, captivating both by day and night.
The two architects have created a substantial body of built work in the past twenty years, the largest and most dramatic in size and scale being the conversion of a giant power plant on the Thames into the new Tate Gallery of Modern Art, a widely hailed centerpiece of London’s millennium celebration.
This kind of ingenuity and imagination continues to characterize their work, whether it is a factory building in Basel with silk screened facades or a winery in California with thick medieval walls made of stacked stones that allow air and light patterns to permeate the building, giving wine making a hallowed aura. Students of architecture with keen antennae discovered this duo long before the rest of the world. Both of the principals have been internationally sought after as lecturers at prestigious universities where they have followed the tradition in architecture of passing the experience of one generation on to another.
The Rudin House in France is yet another representation of their teaching extended by example. Here, they set themselves the task of building a small house that would stand for the quintessential distillation of the word “house;” a child’s crayon drawing, irreducible to anything more simple, direct and honest. And they set it on a pedestal to emphasize its iconic qualities.
These two architects, Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron, with their intensity and passion for using the enduring palette of brick, stone, glass and steel to express new solutions in new forms. The jury is pleased to award the 2001 Pritzker Architecture Prize to them for advancing the art of architecture, a significant contribution to furthering the definition of architecture as one of the premier art forms in this new century and millennium.