SANAA Takes Home Architecture’s Biggest Prize

Sure, recent media coverage has been dominated by March Madness, but the betting classes of the architecture world were in a tizzy of their own this weekend with the announcement of the 2010 Pritzker Prize. The Pritzker — think March Madness meets the Oscars meets the Super Bowl, but for architects — was founded in 1979 and first bestowed upon Modernist master Philip Johnson. This year’s committee, heavily favored to honor Stephen Holl, instead picked Japanese design duo Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa, aka SANAA. Visual primer after the jump.

In May, the Pritzker Foundation will host the official awards ceremony, granting the pair a cash prize of $100,000 (which, by our estimate, would cover about 0.2% of another commission the size of the New Museum, a relative bargain in the museum world).

How you may already know SANAA:


New Museum of Contemporary Art on the Bowery, New York (2007)


Serpentine Gallery Pavilion installation (2009) in Hyde Park, London

The firm’s signature look:

The Pritzker jury praised SANAA’s oeuvre as “deceptively simple”, an architecture that “stands in direct contrast with the bombastic.” The duo’s interiors embody that description, with serene white and glass spaces that they strive to make “like a park.”

21st Century Museum in Kanazawa, Japan (2004)

Glass Pavilion for the Toledo Museum of Art in Ohio (2006)

Interior of the Rolex Learning Center in Lausanne, Switzerland (2009)

Derek Lam retail boutique in New York  on Soho’s  Crosby Street (2009)

Other projects of note:

Christian Dior Tokyo Headquarters (2003)

O-Museum, Nagano, Japan (1999)


Zollverein School of Management and Design in Essen, Germany (2005), which MoMA Director Glenn Lwry praised as “a burst of jazz in the middle of a classical composition.”

A shortlist of possible nominees that made the rounds prior to Sunday’s announcement:

Elizabeth Diller & Ricardo Scofidio
Steven Holl
Peter Eisenman
Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa (SANAA)
Toyo Ito
Massimiliano Fuksas
Daniel Libeskind
Eduardo Souto de Moura
Rafael Vinoly
Shigeru Ban
David Chipperfield

Peruse the Pritzker Prize website for the scoop of the nomination process and this year’s winners, SANAA.