The Pritzker — the world’s premier prize for architecture — will be awarded in May at the New World Center in Miami Beach. It’s the first time it has been bestowed in the Miami area, which is a hotbed for Pritzker Architecture Prize winners’ work.
This year’s Pritzker winner, German architect Frei Otto, died on Monday. The 89-year-old was well known for pioneering lightweight and flowing roof designs for stadiums and other structures, including roof canopies designed for the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich.
Otto had been informed he had won the prize, although the award will be formally presented on May 15. Pritzker laureate Frank Gehry has been invited to the ceremony, which will be at the New World Center, the Miami Beach performing arts center that he designed. The ceremony will proceed as scheduled, with past Pritzker laureates speaking about Otto’s life and work. Eight Pritzker laureates have projects either completed or underway in the Miami area.
The Pritzker ceremony has been held at other significant locations around the world, including the Great Hall of the People in Beijing; the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, Russia; Rome’s Campidoglio; and Ellis Island in New York City. The award was founded in 1979.
Howard Herring, president and CEO of the New World Symphony, said he was notified of the Pritzker decision several weeks ago. The performance hall will be set up in a format that will allow Pritzker officials to make the presentation and serve dinner. The Pritzker organization is also planning a public event, with details to come.
“I think they were attracted to the idea to coming to Miami ... and our technology and flexibility of our performance space was attractive to them,” Herring said. “I think they were also taken by Miami, the vibrant and expanding cultural life and our aspirations to fully integrate art and community. The award is very much about an architect’s contribution to the betterment of humanity.”
The Pritzker usually goes to a living architect, and the committee for the prize said it was the first time that a winner had died before the announcement was made. Otto was perhaps best known for the roofing of the Munich Olympic Park and the West German pavilion at the 1967 Expo in Montreal. The major body of his work focused on using light frames to support thin membranes.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Pritzker laureates with local work
These Pritzker laureates have projects either completed or under way in the Miami area:
Herzog & de Meuron