German-born architect and structural engineer Frei Otto has won the 2015 Pritzker Architecture Prize.
Founded in 1979 by Jay Pritzker and his wife, Cindy, and funded by the Hyatt Foundation, the prize honors a living architect whose work demonstrates a combination of talent, vision, and commitment to humanity and the built environment. The fortieth laureate of the prize and the second from Germany, Otto passed away shortly after being chosen for the prize a few weeks short of his ninetieth birthday.
In contrast to the grandiose, columned, stone-and-masonry architecture preferred by the ruling National Socialist party when he was a boy growing up in Germany, Otto's work was lightweight, open to nature and natural light, non-hierarchical, democratic, low-cost, energy-efficient, and sometimes designed to be temporary. He is best known (with Behnisch + Partner and others) as the designer of the roof of the Olympic Stadium at the 1972 Summer Games in Munich, the German pavilion at the 1967 International and Universal Exposition (Expo 67), the Japan Pavilion at Expo 2000 in Hannover (with 2014 Pritzker Prize recipient Shigeru Ban), for a series of tent structures erected for the German Federal Exhibitions in the 1950s, and for his work in the Middle East.
"Time waits for no man," said Pritzker Prize jury chair Peter Palumbo. "If anyone doubts this aphorism, the death yesterday of Frei Otto, a titan of modern architecture, a few weeks short of his ninetieth birthday and a few short weeks before his receipt of the Pritzker Architecture Prize in Miami in May, represents a sad and striking example of this truism. His loss will be felt wherever the art of architecture is practiced the world over, for he was a universal citizen; whilst his influence will continue to gather momentum by those who are aware of it, and equally, by those who are not. Frei stands for Freedom, as free and as liberating as a bird in flight, swooping and soaring in elegant and joyful arcs, unrestrained by the dogma of the past, and as compelling in its economy of line and in the improbability of its engineering as it is possible to imagine, giving the marriage of form and function the invisibility of the air we breathe, and the beauty we see in nature."