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Daniel Libeskind won’t be getting a Pritzker Prize from this jury…

Daniel Libeskind won’t be getting a Pritzker Prize from this jury…

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colorado-denver-art-museum-daniel-libeskind-from-luau-on-flickr

Although the jury citation for this year’s Pritzker Prize was written to praise SANAA’s Kazuo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa, a couple phrases bubble over with unmistakable disdain for unnamed (but very identifiable) architects who stand little chance of winning a Pritzker from the current jury.     

This year’s 8-member jury (the roster changes over time and varies between 5 and 9 members) includes Lord Peter Palumbo and Renzo Piano - two individuals who undoubtedly made their presence felt during deliberations, either by force of personality or towering achievement, and whose viewpoints might explain this portion of the jury citation: 

Sejima and Nishizawa’s architecture stands in direct contrast with the bombastic and rhetorical. Instead, they seek the essential qualities of architecture that result in a much appreciated straightforwardness, economy of means and restraint in their work. 

Daniel Libeskind, anyone?  Peter Eisenman, perhaps?  There is enough to say about Sejima and Nishizawa without having to resort to praise via subtle, but pointed, comments about their peers.  Minimal impact would’ve been sacrificed if the jury citation left out “bombastic and rhetorical” - so why include that nugget?  Well for one, the jury citation is accurate in its portrayal of the winners’ approach to architecture, an approach that is most clearly understood when contrasted with other prevailing attitudes.  

Moreover, there are few avenues available to the profession that are better-suited for reaching the right eyeballs.  If you (say, Renzo Piano) want to make a public statement or send a message to a certain someone (say Daniel Libeskind) who differs from you in every way (from temperment to style), why not do so in the citation for an award that that “someone” probably expects to win at some point?  After all, it is difficult for a non-bombastic person to get the attention of loud people.

Fortunately, Libeskind, Eisenman, et al, need not fret for too long.  In a couple years, the jury’s make-up will be different, and perhaps more inclined to acknowledge two indisputably excellent (albeit polarizing) portfolios, despite their creators’ occasional bombast and tendency to undervalue “straightforwardness.”   

Related Posts:  (1) SANAA’s Sejima and Nishizawa predictably (but justifiably) win 2010 Pritzker Prize; (2) Daniel Libeskind vainly tries to overcome irony of his prefab diversion; (3) Oh, the irony, Mr. Libeskind…

Image courtesy of luau.

7 Comments

  1. Dahaii says:

    Yeah, but when someone creates a prize recognizing pretentiousness, Daniel Libeskind will sweep Gold, Silver and Bronze!

  2. Paul says:

    Perhaps. Though the irony is that (and I know not all would agree with this…) Libeskind probably deserves a Pritzker - and if he does not deserve it now, then in all likelihood, he will within a decade or two. So maybe the award should be for Achievement in Bombasticism (or, good architecture, with bombast).

  3. Roger says:

    Libeskind’s pretentions are well known … as indeed is his incompetence. In Toronto, his Royal Ontario Museum was dubbed “The Worst Building of the Decade” by the Washington Post. (It also appeared on VirtualTourist.com’s “World’s Top Ten Uglist Buildings”.) Meanwhile in Denver, Mr. Libeskind’s Denver Art Museum leaked for three years and curators remain frustrated with the sloped and angled walls that Daniel gave them for the display of art.

    Of course when the self-professed “genius”, Mr. Libeskind, was at home and needed some space for reflection he was less dogmatic about design. Indeed he and his wife hired another architect to design their home. No sloping walls chez Libeskind! And no plan devices symbolically indicating the flight path Danny will use when he swoops into the marital bedroom! Bullshit, it seems is a dish better served to his clients than taken in his own abode.

  4. Paul says:

    Well said, Roger. As it happens, I recall reading a quote from Frank Gehry recently (another architect accused by many of having similar “weaknesses” as Libeskind) in which he spoke philosophically about one purpose of architecture being to shield us from rain. While he was obviously right, his comment nonetheless dripped with irony since he has had his own problems with leaking roofs.

  5. Ryan says:

    I wouldn’t fault Libeskind for the leaky roofs of his buildings. A leaky roof has nothing to do with an architectural idea and is typically the fault of a bad construction-detail designer (inexperienced “CAD Monkey”) or the contractor rather than the master architect. It’s a construction problem, not an architecture problem.

    I will, however, eagerly fault Libeskind for just generally being a bad architect. He’s gone from being a decent designer with a few intriguing ideas to basically the biggest joke in the industry (besides perhaps Calatrava)to the point where no self-respecting person would work for him or hire him to design a building. Any time I see images of something new he’s done, I just cringe at how bad it is.

  6. Paul says:

    Calatrava, eh? I didn’t expect that aside. Otherwise you do have a point - although, as they say, the buck stops w/ the architect.

  7. Gabriel says:

    Of course Daniel Libeskind won’t be getting a Pritzker Prize. Pritzker is a serious prize and Libeskind is not. This jury or any other would not give the prize to architects that are just marketing products.
    They did that once with Frank Gehry and that is enough.

    And come on… Everybody knows that the real chief in the pritzker jury is Alejandro Aravena.

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