Geordie Wood
Geordie Wood

The London-based Royal Academy of Arts (RA) named American architects Elizabeth Diller and Ricardo Scofidio, AIA, of New York–based design firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DS+R) as the winners of its 2019 RA Architecture Prize. The pair were honored for their "inspiring and enduring contribution[s] to the culture of architecture," according to a press release. Now in its second year, the annual award spotlights "an innovative partnership that from its inception has been passionately committed to interdisciplinary work that expands architectural ideas and urban culture." Last year, Japanese architect Itsuko Hasegawa won the inaugural RA Architecture Prize.

“The jury were unanimous in their decision to award this year’s Royal Academy Architecture Prize to Elizabeth Diller and Ricardo Scofidio,” jury chair and co-founder of London-based architectural design practice Stanton Williams Architects Alan Stanton said in a press release. “Their extraordinary architectural projects which are founded on their early experimental work in the visual and performance arts resonate with our ethos here at the Royal Academy, formed as it is by both artists and architects.”

“This wonderful recognition by the Royal Academy of Arts has prompted us to reflect on the trajectory of our practice. We started as dissidents, challenging architecture as a self-contained discipline and probing its intersections with other cultural forms using a large toolkit of media,” Diller and Scofidio said in the same release. “A combination of naiveté and determination allowed us to realize some challenging projects over time, but it was not until our collaboration expanded to include new partners and a growing staff that we were truly able to push architecture’s untapped agency and convert provocations into meaningful action in cities and institutions.”

Diller and Scofidio founded their architecture practice in 1981. In 1997, Charles Renfro, AIA, joined the team; he became a partner in 2004. Benjamin Gilmartin, AIA, joined the firm in 2004 and was named a partner in 2015. Since its inception, DS+R has worked on numerous projects around the world, including the Shed, which opens this April in New York, the Tianjin Juilliard School in Tianjin, China, the Broad in Los Angeles, and the expansion and renovation of the Museum of Modern Art also in New York. The firm recently released renderings for the London Centre for Music, a $373-million project that is set to complete by 2030.

Chaired by Stanton, this year's jury comprised LSE Cities' director Ricky Burdett; Sauerbruch Hutton's co-founder Louisa Hutton, Hon. FAIA; Lesley Lokko, head of the Graduate School of Architecture at the University of Johannesburg; and Scottish journalist Kirsty Wark.

The jury also announced the finalists for the second Royal Academy Dorfman Award, which celebrates a "global talent that represents the future of architecture." This year's finalists are Mexican architect Fernanda Canales; Alice Casey and Cian Deegan of Dublin-based TAKA Architects; Mariam Kamara, principal architect at Nigerien architecture practice Atelier Masomi; and Boonserm Premthada, founder of Bangkok Project Studio. Last year, Iranian architect Alireza Taghaboni won the first award.

Below is a selection of DS+R's most recent projects: