Swiss architect wins prized Pritzker award
Peter Zumthor's designs for an art museum emerging from a bombed-out church and thermal baths both caught the jury's eye.
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Many say that the Thermal Baths in Vals, Switzerland, are Zumthor's masterpiece. Talking to Zumthor at his office in Switzerland he commented, "I told my team I didn't mean for only fashion models to look good here, but for a heavy woman with thick arms and jowls to feel beautiful too. We worked to determine where the lights and shadows should be. It was more than worthwhile when an elderly lady came up to me at the opening and said, 'Did you build this lovely place just for me, I feel beautiful and look good.' This was the greatest compliment, for the exact person I had in mind, liked the baths and building. Passion paid off."Skip to next paragraph
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His father, Oscar Zumthor, was a cabinet maker in Basel, Switzerland, who thought Peter would follow him in his work. The young Zumthor went to work for him. "I always dreamed about being an architect, but thought it was not accessible to me. I learned to build cabinets, then graduated to furniture, then went to several schools to learn about design." He even attended the Pratt Institute of Design in New York, hoping to eventually design his own furniture. "One day I decided why not do the whole thing and design a house. It was then that the process of schooling began. Your dream becomes possible when you can see yourself in it, and start working towards it. I always tell my students this."
Zumthor lives what he says. He has been a professor at the Academy of Architecture, Universita della Svizzera Italiana, Mendrisio, and a visiting professor at the University of Southern California, at the Technical University in Munich, Germany, and at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass.
The award ceremonies will take place at the Legislative Palace in Buenos Aires. Tom Pritzker, president of the Hyatt Foundation, will give the award, plus a bronze medal, and $100,000. This will be followed by a dinner at the Palacio San Martin, one of Argentina's most important and beautiful locations. Peter Zumthor receives the Pritzker Prize as it enters its fourth decade of selecting the best of architects from around the world. Although he is from a small village in Switzerland, his talent is exceptional and his joy at receiving the honor is unbounded.