Peter Zumthor wins the Pritzker Architecture Prize 2009

He is not a celebrity architect, not one of the names that show up on shortlists for museums and concert hall projects or known beyond architecture circles. He hasn’t designed many buildings; the one he is best known for is a thermal spa in an Alpine commune. And he has toiled in relative obscurity for the last 30 years in a remote village in the Swiss mountains. Peter Zumthor’s art museum in Bregenz, Austria, has glass walls that can serve as billboards or video screens at night. The interior of the St. Benedict Chapel, designed by Peter Zumthor, in Sumvitg, Switzerland. But on Monday the Swiss architect Peter Zumthor is to be named the winner of the 2009 Pritzker Prize, the highest recognition for architects. “He has conceived his method of practice almost as carefully as each of his projects,” the citation from the nine-member Pritzker jury says. “He develops buildings of great integrity — untouched by fad or fashion. Declining a majority of the commissions that come his way, he only accepts a project if he feels a deep affinity for its program, and from the moment of commitment, his devotion is complete, overseeing the project’s realization to the very last detail.” For Mr. Zumthor, 65, winning the Pritzker, which is awarded annually to a living architect and regarded as architecture’s equivalent of the Nobel Prize, is a kind of vindication. “You can do your work, you do your thing, and it gets recognized,” he said in a telephone interview from Haldenstein, the Swiss village where he lives and works. Mr. Zumthor is the 33rd laureate to receive the prize, which consists of a $100,000 grant and a bronze medallion and is awarded at a different architecturally significant location each year. This year’s ceremony is to be held on May 29 in Buenos Aires. Info: -