LOS ANGELES — Chinese architect Wang Shu, whose buildings have been praised for their commanding presence and careful attention to the environment, has won the 2012 Pritzker Architecture Prize, the prize's jury announced Monday.
The 49-year-old architect joins Frank Gehry, Tadao Ando, Renzo Piano and Eduardo Souto de Moura in receiving the honor that's been called architecture's Nobel Prize. Wang, the first Chinese architect to receive the honor, is recognized for the museums, libraries, apartment complexes and other structures that he has designed in China.
"The fact that an architect from China has been selected by the jury, represents a significant step in acknowledging the role that China will play in the development of architectural ideals," Thomas J. Pritzker said in a statement. "In addition, over the coming decades, China's success at urbanization will be important to China and to the world."
Some of Wang's notable design accomplishments include salvaging more than two million tiles from demolished traditional houses to cover the roofs of Xingshan Campus buildings. He designed half the Library of Wenzheng College underground because Suzhou gardening traditions suggest that buildings located between water and mountains should not be prominent.
"China's unprecedented opportunities for urban planning and design will want to be in harmony with both its long and unique traditions of the past and with its future needs for sustainable development," said Pritzker. "The selection of Wang Shu reflects the jury's view that his work represents that standard of excellence which will be so critical to China's future."
Wang, who founded his Amateur Architecture Studio firm with his wife, Lu Wenyu, in 1997, has served as the head of the architecture department of the China Academy of Art in Hangzhou since 2000. He is also a frequent visiting lecturer at universities around the world, including Harvard University, University of Texas and University of Pennsylvania.
The formal Pritzker ceremony will be held May 25 in Beijing. Wang will receive a $100,000 grant and a bronze medallion.
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