American Thom Mayne snags Pritzker architecture prize

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Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Longtime Los Angeles architect Thom Mayne was awarded this year's Pritzker Architecture Prize. Established in 1979 to honor "consistent and significant contributions to humanity," the prize is considered by many to be the highest honor in the field. The award includes a bronze medallion and US$100,000. Mayne was the first American to receive it in 14 years; previous American recipients include Robert Venturi (1991) and Frank Gehry (1989).

Mayne earned his architecture degree from the University of Southern California in 1968. A few years later he founded his own architecture school, the Southern California Institute of Architecture, which remains to this day. He then moved to Los Angeles, where in addition to running a firm, Morphosis, he teaches architecture at UCLA.

Mayne's earlier work, considered "angry" and "brooding", was outside of the architectural mainstream. His style was often called bold and audacious. This style has recently become more accepted, as Morphosis won contracts to design government buildings in California, Oregon, and Washington, DC. The firm also designed an Olympic village in Queens, in preparation for the city's 2012 Olympics bid.

On receiving the prize, Mayne said, "This is such a big deal....it is not in my nature to think about being the one who prevails. For my whole life, I've always seen myself as an outsider."

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