And the Pritzker Prize Goes To... Chinese Architect Wang Shu

Chinese Architect Wang Shu
(Photo by Zhu Chenzhou)

The jury of the Pritzker Prize, the architecture world’s equivalent to the Nobel, has just announced the winner of the 2012 honor: Chinese architect Wang Shu, age 48 (a mere youngster by industry standards).

Following I.M. Pei’s 1983 award, Wang is the second Chinese architect to join the ranks of Norman FosterRenzo Piano, and Rem Koolhaas in receiving architecture’s highest prize, which comes with $100,000 and a bronze medal. Wang is, however, the first winner to have worked his entire career in China. Born in 1963 in the western city of Urumqi, he earned his architecture degrees at the Nanjing Institute of Technology and co-founded the Hangzhou-based Amateur Architecture Studio with wife Lu Wenyu in 1997.

Wang’s work, which frequently makes nods to China’s history through the unusual use of salvaged materials, includes the 2008 Ningbo History Museum, a behemoth composed of more than one million pieces of salvaged stone, brick, and tile. He also covered the roofs of the China Academy of Art’s Xingshan Campus with more than two million tiles from demolished traditional houses.

Wang will receive his award at the official Pritzker ceremony in Beijing on May 25, marking the event's first occasion 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 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."

To view highlights of Wang Shu's career, click the slide show.