Pritzker Prize Winners 2010: Sanaa Architecture

The Pritzker foundation announced the winners of its coveted annual prize on Sunday: Japanese architects Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa of Sanaa. They're the first male/female team and the third Japanese firm to win the prize.

The subtlety of their work stands out from previous "starchitect" winners like Frank Gehry (1989) and Zaha Hadid (2004). Jury chairman Lord Palumbo said that the duo won "for architecture that is simultaneously delicate and powerful, precise and fluid, ingenious but not overly or overtly clever," and for "buildings that successfully interact with their contexts and the activities they contain."

Although most of their work is located in Japan, recent U.S. projects such as the Toledo Museum of Art in Ohio and the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York have earned them a reputation in America as talented museum architects.

This is only the third time in the prize's history that it's been shared between two people. (Oscar Niemeyer and the late Gordon Bunshaft of SOM shared the prize in 1988; partners Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron were co-laureates in 2001.)

Other previous laureates include Peter Zumthor (2009), Jean Nouvel (2008), Herzog and de Meuron (2001), Rem Koolhaas (2000), and Renzo Piano (1998).

1) Kazuyo Sejima (right) and Ryue Nishizawa (left)
2-3) O Museum IIda, Nagano, Japan, 1999
4) Christian Dior Building, Tokyo, Japan, 2003
5) Toledo Museum of Art, Toledo, Ohio, 2006

6) Toledo Museum of Art, Toledo, Ohio, 2006
7) 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Ishikawa, Japan, 2004
8) New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York, New York, 2007
9-10) Rolex Learning Center, Lausanne, Switzerland, 2009

2009 Pritzker Prize Laureate: Peter Zumthor
2008 Pritzker Prize Winner Announced: Jean Nouvel

Photos: Takasi Okamoto (1), courtesy of SANAA via Pritzker Prize 2010; Hisao Suzuki (2-10), courtesy of SANAA via Pritzker Prize 2010