Chicago Tribune: Architecture prize honors tradition


The new award may somewhat soothe those who perceive a modernist bias for the Pritzker Prize

Setting up a rivalry with the Pritzker Architecture Prize, widely considered architecture’s most prestigious award and often conferred on a leading modernist, a Chicago business leader and the University of Notre Dame are bestowing their own architecture prize to honor classical design. The first recipient will be Leon Krier, the renowned advocate of traditional architecture and urbanism.

Krier, a Luxembourg native who lives in France, helped lay the theoretical groundwork for the design movement known as the New Urbanism, which rejects suburban sprawl and calls for a return to traditional American town-planning practices, such as front porches and street grids.

Krier will receive the Richard H. Driehaus Prize for Classical Architecture, which will be awarded March 22 in the Chicago Stock Exchange Trading Room at the Art Institute of Chicago.

The prize is endowed by Richard H. Driehaus, chairman of Driehaus Capital Management in Chicago, “to honor a major contributor in the field of traditional and classical architecture or historic preservation,” Notre Dame said in a news release.

The university, a bastion of classical design, will present the award.

Though Notre Dame made no reference in its announcement to the Pritzker Prize, which is bestowed by the Hyatt Foundation of the billionaire Pritzker family of Chicago, the timing and the terms of the Driehaus award are remarkably similar to the Pritzker.

The Pritzker award is typically announced around this time of year, usually in April. The Pritzker award comes with $100,000, as does the Driehaus honor. The Pritzker winner receives a bronze medallion. The Driehaus recipient will get a bronze model of the Choregic Monument of Lysikratis of Athens. And the Pritzker has twice been presented at the Art Institute.

Traditionally inclined architects have grumbled for years that the Pritzker skews toward modernists, though previous Pritzker winners include the Philadelphia postmodernist Robert Venturi, who received the award in 1991. More typically, however, the Pritzker has gone to modernists such as Frank Gehry, Renzo Piano, Norman Foster, I.M. Pei or Richard Meier.

“They have all been architects who have adhered in principle to the modernist tradition, though quite a few have questioned it from within,” said Robert A.M. Stern, dean of the Yale University School of Architecture.

“I think it’s wonderful,” he said of the Driehaus Prize.

Stern, who designed Chicago’s new, traditional-looking bus shelters, plans to attend the ceremonies. Andres Duany, who with his wife and partner Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk designed the New Urbanist town of Seaside, Fla., also is expected to attend, Notre Dame said.

Krier’s design credits include the town of Poundbury in England, a commission sponsored by Prince Charles, an outspoken advocate of traditional design. But Krier has achieved acclaim and influence more as a theoretician than as a builder.

The jury that selected Krier included Driehaus; Michael Lykoudis, chair of Notre Dame’s architecture school; Plater-Zyberk, dean of the University of Miami’s architecture school; Jaquelin Robertson, principal of Cooper Robertson in New York and former dean of the University of Virginia’s architecture school, and Thomas Fisher, dean of the University of Minnesota’s architecture school.

March 7, 2003

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