Handicapping the Pritzker Prize, 2013 Edition

After last year’s successful pick of dark horse Wang Shu (5:1 odds), a continuation of my Pritzker Prize series seems in order. No promises for a similar success this year, but I think that Shu might be a bellwether for changes in the ambitions of the prize. Perhaps the jury as currently composed will  be able to set aside the Eurocentrism of decades past and see to it that a more broad array of architects are on the list of nominees.


5:1 – Kengo Kuma (Japanese, b. 1954)

The reason Kuma’s work is so appealing is hard to put your finger on, but I think it’s mostly his experimentation with materials. In the past few years a number of his completed projects have made the rounds of architecture publications, and they have all been wonderfully inventive and quite beautiful. Kuma also strives to make an environmentally conscious architecture that is also aesthetically robust.

5:1 – David Adjaye (British, b. Tanzania 1966)

Adjaye’s profile has never been larger, with the National Museum of African-American History and Culture on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. under construction, and with his studio’s incredible churning of publications. It would be a great boon for the Pritzker to be awarded to an architect of African descent, and Adjaye is the strongest candidate in my opinion.

8:1 – Giancarlo Mazzanti (Colombian, b. 1963)

The Pritzker hasn’t typically rewarded architects whose work has much of a social agenda, but Mazzanti is an example of an architect whose work is aesthetically daring and socially active. South American architects are extremely underrepresented in the Pritzker canon, and Mazzanti would be a great choice to start changing that.

8:1 – Liz Diller (American, b. Poland, 1954) and Ricardo Scofidio (American, b. 1935) of Diller Scofidio + Renfro

Lincoln Center is done. The Hirshhorn Bubble continues to incite controversy. The High Line is ongoing and continues to accrue much acclaim. The Broad and Berkeley Art Museums are under construction, as are several large academic buildings. Now’s the time for DS+R in my opinion.

10:1 – David Chipperfield (British, b. 1953)

In recent years, Chipperfield has built up a significant portfolio of slick minimalist public buildings around the world and in Great Britain, and he just curated the 2012 Venice Architecture Biennale which bade well for Kazuyo Sejima in 2010. That being said, Chipperfield is a well-known British architect at the height of his career, which doesn’t align with the stated ambition to award those whose careers are on the upswing.

10:1 – Alberto Campo Baeza (Spanish, b. 1946)

The Pritzker has recently rewarded architects whose work has maintained consistency and quality over time, and Campo Baeza is a perfect example. Both his small houses and large cultural buildings use the same minimal vocabulary and impeccable detailing. The clarity and reductiveness of his work is seductive but leaves many people cold.

10:1 – Sou Fujimoto (Japanese, b. 1971)

By far the youngest candidate on my list, Fujimoto has been on a meteoric rise the past two or three years, raising his international profile by exhibiting at the Venice Biennale, and promoting his works worldwide through photographs by Iwan Baan and others. It has just been announced that he will be building this year’s Serpentine Pavilion in London, and the vast majority of architects invited to do so were or became Pritzker winners. He has a strong chance.

12:1 – Manuel & Francisco Aires Mateus (Portuguese, b. 1963 & 1964)

Rising fast, the brothers Aires Mateus are nominated for the Mies van der Rohe prize this year, and exhibited an impressive work at the Venice Biennale. Good candidates.

15:1 – Steven Holl (American, b. 1947)

I think Holl has become a long shot. If they were going to give it to him, they would have done so by now. As a world-famous American architect in his 60s, he doesn’t fit the bill for the new Pritzker.

15:1Sean Godsell (Australian, b. 1960)

His rather amazing Design Hub at RMIT opened this year, after almost two decades of residential work that has mined the potentials of architectural skins and surfaces. I think he would be a great choice. Boxes have never looked as good.

20:1 – Ben Van Berkel (Dutch, b. 1957) and Caroline Bos (Dutch, b. 1959) of UN Studio

Though UN Studio seems to be quiet lately, its collaborative partners are still strong candidates because of the well-considered balance of theorizing and building that makes up their practice. The Mercedes Benz Museum they completed a few years ago remains one of my favorite buildings of the last decade, and seems to have been overlooked at the tail end of our worldwide obsession with  iconic architecture.

25:1 – Bijoy Jain (Indian, b. 1965) of Studio Mumbai

Studio Mumbai has increased its international profile in the past couple of years, exhibiting at the Venice Biennale and the Victoria & Albert in London, and recently publishing a monograph in El Croquis. Their work is intensely regional and specific, but its lessons for the West about integration with craftspeople and constructors are invaluable.


I have admitted that it is unlikely Peter Eisenman, Toyo Ito, Daniel Libeskind or Wolf Prix will ever win the Pritzker, so I’ve dropped them from my list. I also think that in the interest of diversification, it’s not likely that a younger North American architect will win this year either. That disqualifies Michael Maltzan, Brad Cloepfil, John & Patricia Patkau, and several others who would have been strong contenders ten or fifteen years ago.

8 Comments on “Handicapping the Pritzker Prize, 2013 Edition”

  1. I do think Holl would have gotten it by now if he was going to, but that Sliced Porosity is sure getting a lot of press.
    I don’t know how much this would affect Kuma, but his win at the V&A Dundee that came in over budget after the other competitors said it would, can not be a good thing. Love the work otherwise.
    David Adjaye is certainly a favorite. Let’s not forget he went bankrupt. Again, how much does being successful in business play into the Pritzker.
    Fujimoto shot up this list after last week. Hard to argue your analysis in relation to the Serpentine.

  2. Aidan Rainaldi says:

    I’d agree that Holl, Libeskind and Eisenman have missed the boat. All veered off too far into extreme architectural pretentiousness that undermined anything of interest they may have done decades ago. I think the Jury is favoring regional, contextual and responsible architects who are not so caught up in their own ego as guys like Libeskind.

  3. Carlos says:

    Don’t you think Adjaye might be too young to be a favorite for this year? Although you never really know, especially after they gave it to Wang Shu last year who is very close in age. I just don’t think Adjaye’s work is so obviously great the way Shu’s is. I feel like they’re willing to give it to Adjaye in the future, but not now. I’ve got my money on Kuma for some reason. They seem to love japanese architects. Mazzanti would be the most interesting choice on this list though.

  4. Carlos says:

    Do you think they’d give it to Juhani Pallasmaa? They gave it to Aldo Rossi and most of his influence was through his writings.

  5. Colonel Pancake says:

    Right on the money.

  6. mil says:


    is not a secret that Latin America has amazing architects I don’t see Mr. Mazzanti as strong candidate for the Pritzquer, just because he was commissioned to build a Library in a Slung? did the juries visited the Library and other projects? I just visited the building two weeks ago and theres is a lot of controversial issues on the functionality and construction details, the building is all about the facade the interior is totally poor and small, no light, no views, no enough room for the neighbors of the community, theres not generous architecture on there. the perfect example of media project because is on a unusual site. the sport center in Medellin is much better without be an extraordinary building.

    by the way the Pritzquer is for a mature architect a mature work with ideas that have a big impact on the perception of the world, there is a lot of Chilean, Brazilian, mexican, from different generations that can be good options in the future for the price.

  7. Carlo says:

    Ok, Toyo Ito won the 2013 pritzker.
    The Pritzker is a craeer award isn’t it? So…What do you think about John Pawson (England 1949), Ricardo Legorreta (Mexico 1931), Frei Otto (Germany 1925), Charles Correa (India 1930)?

  8. captain obvious says:

    what about toyo ito?

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