Zaha Hadid, winner of the 2004 Pritzker Architecture Prize

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Zaha Hadid becomes the first woman to
receive the Pritzker Architecture Prize
By Renato Pesci, Built Environment Editor

28 March 2004: Zaha Hadid, an Iraqi-born British citizen, has been chosen as the 2004 Laureate of the Pritzker Architecture Prize marking the first time a woman has been named for this 26-year-old award. Hadid, who is 53, has completed one project in the United States, the Richard and Lois Rosenthal Center for Contemporary Art in Cincinnati, Ohio; and is currently developing another to co-exist with a Frank Lloyd Wright structure, the Price Tower Arts Center in Bartlesville, Oklahoma.

2005 Pritzker Prize | 2006 Pritzker Prize |

Her other completed projects in Europe include a fire station for the Vitra Furniture Company in Weil am Rhein, southern Germany; an exhibition building to mark the 1999 garden festival in the same city; a car park and terminus Hoenheim North, a 'park and ride' and tramway on the outskirts of Strasbourg, eastern France; and a ski jump situated on the Bergisel Mountain overlooking Innsbruck, Austria.

She has numerous other projects in various stages of development including a building for BMW in Leipzig, and a Science Center in Wolfsburg, both in Germany; a National Center of Contemporary Arts in Rome; a Master Plan for Bilbao, Spain; a Guggenheim Museum for Taichung, Taiwan; a high speed train station outside Naples; and a new public archive, library and sports centre in Montpellier, France.

In announcing the jury’s choice, Thomas J Pritzker, president of The Hyatt Foundation, said: “It is gratifying to us as sponsors of the prize to see our very independent jury honor a woman for the first time. Although her body of work is relatively small, she has achieved great acclaim and her energy and ideas show even greater promise for the future.”

Pritzker Architecture Prize jury chairman, Lord Rothschild, commented: “At the same time as her theoretical and academic work, as a practising architect, Zaha Hadid has been unswerving in her commitment to modernism. Always inventive, she’s moved away from existing typology, from high tech, and has shifted the geometry of buildings.”

Continuing, Lord Rothschild said: “In her fourth year at the Architectural Association in London, as a student of Rem Koolhaas (himself a recent recipient of the Pritzker Prize) her graduation project was called Malevich’s Tectonik. She placed a hotel on the Hungerford Bridge on the River Thames, drawing from suprematist forms to meet the demands of the programme and the site. It’s a happy coincidence therefore that this year’s prize ceremony should be taking place in St Petersburg, Russia, where Malevich lived and worked, a city of extraordinary beauty and originality.”

The formal ceremony for what has come to be known throughout the world as architecture's highest honour will be held on 31 May 2004 in St Petersburg. At that time, a $100,000 grant and a bronze medallion will be bestowed in the State Hermitage Museum followed by a reception and dinner in the Grand Peterhof Palace. The prize presentation ceremony moves to different locations around the world each year, paying homage to historic and contemporary architecture.

Juror Frank Gehry, who is also the 1989 Pritzker Laureate, said: “The 2004 laureate is probably one of the youngest laureates and has one of the clearest architectural trajectories we’ve seen in many years. Each project unfolds with new excitement and innovation." A new juror this year, journalist Karen Stein who is editorial director of Phaidon Press, commented: “Over the past 25 years, Zaha Hadid has built a career on defying convention—conventional ideas of architectural space, of practice, of representation and of construction.”

The purpose of the Pritzker Architecture Prize is to honour annually a living architect whose built work demonstrates a combination of those qualities of talent, vision and commitment, which has produced consistent and significant contributions to humanity and the built environment through the art of architecture. The prize was established in 1979 by The Hyatt Foundation.

Ms Hadid is the third architect from the United Kingdom to be awarded the Pritzker Prize: the late James Stirling was chosen in 1981, and in 1999 Lord (then Sir Norman) Foster. Philip Johnson was the first Pritzker Laureate in 1979. The late Luis Barragán of Mexico was named in 1980. Kevin Roche in 1982, Ieoh Ming Pei in 1983, and Richard Meier in 1984. Hans Hollein of Austria was the 1985 Laureate. Gottfried Böhm of Germany received the prize in 1986. Kenzo Tange was the first Japanese architect to receive the prize in 1987; Fumihiko Maki was the second from Japan in 1993; and Tadao Ando the third in 1995. Robert Venturi received the honour in 1991, and Alvaro Siza of Portugal in 1992. Christian de Portzamparc of France was elected Pritzker Laureate in 1994. The late Gordon Bunshaft of the United States and Oscar Niemeyer of Brazil, were named in 1988. Frank Gehry was the recipient in 1989, the late Aldo Rossi of Italy in 1990. In 1996, Rafael Moneo of Spain was the Laureate; in 1997 Sverre Fehn of Norway; in 1998 Renzo Piano of Italy, and in 2000, Rem Koolhaas of the Netherlands. In 2001, two architects from Switzerland received the honour: Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron. Australian Glenn Murcutt won the prize in 2002. Danish architect Jørn Utzon was chosen in 2003.

The field of architecture was chosen by the Pritzker family because of their keen interest in building due to their involvement with developing the Hyatt Hotels around the world; also because architecture was a creative endeavour not included in the Nobel Prizes. The procedures were modelled after the Nobels, with the final selection being made by the international jury with all deliberations and voting in secret. Nominations are continuous from year to year with hundreds of nominees from countries all around the world being considered each year.

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