For the first time, three individuals have been named as Pritzker Architecture Prize Laureates: Rafael Aranda, Carme Pigem, and Ramon Vilalta. All three are from Olot in the Catalonian region of Spain; in 1988 the trio founded their firm RCR Arquitectes.

The Pritzker Architecture Prize Laureate is typically given to an individual. In awarding a group, the Pritzker Architecture Prize cited the following: “Their intensely collaborative way of working together, where the creative process, commitment to vision and all responsibilities are shared equally, led to the selection of the three individuals for this year’s award.” Aranda, Pigem, and Vilalta are collectively the 38th winner of the prize and they will take home $100,000 as well as architecture’s most prestigious honor.

Recent major projects from the firm include the Bell–Lloc Winery (2007, Palamós, Girona, Spain), Soulages Museum (2014, Rodez, France), and the La Lira Theater Public Open Space (2011, Ripoll, Girona, Spain).

In a press release, The Pritzker Architecture Prize cited the emotional power of the trio’s architecture, as well as its site-specific sensitivity and enduring qualities:

Their work demonstrates an unyielding commitment to place and its narrative, to create spaces that are in discourse with their respective contexts. Harmonizing materiality with transparency, Aranda, Pigem and Vilalta seek connections between the exterior and interior, resulting in emotional and experiential architecture.

Mr. Pritzker remarks: “The jury has selected three architects who have been working collaboratively for nearly three decades. Mr. Aranda, Ms. Pigem and Mr. Vilalta have had an impact on the discipline far beyond their immediate area. Their works range from public and private spaces to cultural venues and educational institutions, and their ability to intensely relate the environment specific to each site is a testament to their process and deep integrity.”

Mr. Aranda, Ms. Pigem and Mr. Vilalta represent the first time that three architects together are honored with the prize. Their intensely collaborative way of working together, where the creative process, commitment to vision and all responsibilities are shared equally, led to the selection of the three individuals for this year’s award. As the winners of the 39th edition of the Prize, it is the second time that laureates hail from Spain, following Rafael Moneo who received the award in 1996. In response to being named the 2017 Laureates of the Pritzker Prize, Ms. Pigem states: “It is a great joy and a great responsibility. We are thrilled that this year three professionals, who work closely together in everything we do, are recognized.”

The locally-based architects evoke universal identity through their creative and extensive use of modern materials including recycled steel and plastic. “They’ve demonstrated that unity of a material can lend such incredible strength and simplicity to a building,” says Glenn Murcutt, Jury Chair. “The collaboration of these three architects produces uncompromising architecture of a poetic level, representing timeless work that reflects great respect for the past, while projecting clarity that is of the present and the future.” As such, an early 20th century foundry has become their office, Barberí Laboratory (2007), and many remnants of the original building have remained, blended with highly contrasting, new elements, which were added only where essential.

Last year, Alejandro Aravena won the prize. The Chilean architect, widely accoladed for proposing half houses in his home country that inhabitants completed, was known for his socially-minded approach to architecture. 2015, however, saw the Pritzker judges take a different approach. Instead of choosing a relatively young, innovative architect, Frei Otto from Germany was rewarded for his life’s work, notably his tensile structures. Otto died later that year, meanwhile, Aravena, went on to direct the Venice Biennale after receiving his award, capping off a stellar year for him.

Other past winners include Zaha Hadid, Norman Foster, Peter Zumthor, SANAA, Rem Koolhaas, Richard Meier, Frank Gehry, Richard Rogers and Phillip Johnson who won the first ever Pritzker Prize. The Prize has been running since 1979.

The full announcement is available here.

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