The Japan Art Association named Rafael Moneo, Hon. FAIA, as the winner of the 2017 Praemium Imperiale International Arts Award in architecture. The 80-year-old Spanish architect has been recognized for lifetime achievement, and will be given 15 million yen (or about $137,000) at a ceremony in Tokyo on Oct. 18. Moneo also won the Pritzker Prize in 1996, the RIBA Royal Gold Medal in 2003, and the Thomas Jefferson Medal in Architecture in 2012.
Originally from Tudela, Spain, Moneo is revered for projects that work well into already established cityscapes while also being sensitive to the site context. As The New York Times described in 2009, one of his earliest projects completed in 1986, the National Museum of Roman Art in Mérida, Spain, was “a modern exhibition space over a still-buried portion of a largely excavated Roman town." This project garnered positive reviews and helped to solidify his reputation, paving the way for later projects such as the Madrid Athoca railway station, the Cathedral of Our Lady of Angels in Los Angeles, and the Prado Museum Extension in Madrid. He has also taught at institutions such as Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design.
Since 1989, the annual Praemium Imperiale awards has recognized honorees in fields that are not recognized by the Nobel Prize: architecture, music, painting, sculpture, and theater/film. This year’s winners are each from a different country, which includes dancer Russian American Mikhail Baryshnikov, Iranian visual artist Shirin Neshat, Ghanian sculptor El Anatsui, and Seneglase musician Youssou N’Dour.