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Alejandro Aravena, Director of 2016 Venice Architecture Biennale, Wins the Pritzker Prize

Aravena. CRISTOBAL PALMA

Alejandro Aravena.

CRISTOBAL PALMA

Earlier today, the Pritzker Architecture Prize named its 2016 winner: Alejandro Aravena. The Chile-based architect, who is directing this year’s Venice Architecture Biennale, will receive $100,000 as part of winning the world’s most important architecture prize.

In an essay for the Guardian this year, Aravena explained his interests as being “how architects and urban planners engage with other fields—economics, security, the environment and so on.” Aravena’s simple-looking buildings are implicitly political—they rely on local resources and typically grapple with how architecture can respond to natural disasters and economic disparities. For his most ambitious project to date, Aravena founded ELEMENTAL, a “do tank” firm dedicated to find ways of building socially conscious housing for lower-income communities, though he has also not shied away from bigger, corporate architecture. His designs for the Novartis campus, in Shanghai, are currently under construction.

In a statement, Tom Pritzker, the prize’s namesake, said, “Alejandro Aravena has pioneered a collaborative practice that produces powerful works of architecture and also addresses key challenges of the 21st century. His built work gives economic opportunity to the less privileged, mitigates the effects of natural disasters, reduces energy consumption, and provides welcoming public space. Innovative and inspiring, he shows how architecture at its best can improve people’s lives.”

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