The Japan Art Association announced yesterday that Paulo Mendes da Rocha has won the 2016 Praemium Imperiale International Arts Award in architecture. The 90-year-old Brazilian architect becomes the 28th recipient of the Japan Art Association's annual award, which celebrates artists in five fields not recognized with Nobel Prizes: Architecture, music, painting, sculpture, and theater/film. The Praemium Imperiale award, initiated in 1989, includes a purse of 15 million yen (approximately $146,000) and a testimonial letter, which will be presented at a ceremony that will take place in Tokyo on October 18. Mendes da Rocha adds this award to a broad array of accolades that also includes the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement from the 15th Venice Biennale earlier this year as well as the 2006 Pritzker Architecture Prize.
Paulo Mendes da Rocha was born in Vitoria, Espirito Santo, Brazil in 1928, and developed an interest in architecture at an early age, perhaps in part due to his father's work as an infrastructural engineer. Following graduation from the School of Architecture and City Planning, Mackenzie Presbyterian University, São Paulo, Mendes da Rocha won a competition to design the gymnasium for the Paulistano Athletic Club, also in São Paulo, when he was 29 years old. The bulk of his oeuvre is concentrated in São Paulo, including Patriarch Plaza (2002) and MuBE (Museu Brasileiro da Escultura) (1988) as well as his 1993 renovation of the State Museum of São Paulo, but he also contributed the Brazilian Pavilion to the 1970 World Expo in Osaka, Japan, and completed the National Coach Museum in Lisbon last year.
Mendes da Rocha's Praemium Imperiale win places him in the company of fellow laureates that include many of the world's most renowned architects: Inaugural winner I.M. Pei, FAIA; Frank Gehry, FAIA (1992); Kenzo Tange (1993); Tadao Ando, Hon. FAIA (1996); Alvaro Siza (1998); Rem Koolhaas, Hon. FAIA (2003); Frei Otto (2006); the late Zaha Hadid, Hon. FAIA (2009); Toyo Ito, Hon. FAIA (2010); and Steven Holl, FAIA (2014), and last year's winner, Dominique Perrault, Hon. FAIA. This year’s winners in the Praemium Imperiale's four other fields are Cindy Sherman (painting), Martin Scorsese (theater/film), Gidon Kremer (music), and Annette Messager (sculpture). The Praemium Imperiale also includes a 5 million yen (approximately $49,000) Grant for Young Artists, which was awarded to Five Arts Centre in Malaysia.
The Japan Arts Association released the following video about Paulo Mendes da Rocha along with its announcement of this year's laureates:
Visit ARCHITECT's Project Gallery to view more work by Paulo Mendes da Rocha.