Monday, the 2016 Pritzker architecture prize was formally awarded to Alejandro Aravena in a ceremony at the United Nations headquarters in New York. It was an appropriate setting for this year’s honor, as Aravena is known for creating a new model for low-cost housing in his native Chile. Guests at the Pritzker celebration—which included a reception in the spectacular curving lobby of the General Assembly building, followed by the ceremony in the Security Council Chamber, and dinner overlooking the East River—included fellow architects Thom Mayne, Tod Williams and Billie Tsien, Jeanne Gang, Richard Meier, Bjarke Ingels, Craig Dykers of Snøhetta, John Ronan, David Adjaye, Peter Eisenman, Francis Kere, Moshe Safdie, Odile Decq, Shigeru Ban, Steven Holl, Deborah Berke, Moshe Safdie, Brad Cloepfil, and Cesar Pelli.
A shadow over the evening’s festivities was the death last week of Zaha Hadid, who won the Pritzker in 2004. At the ceremony, Lord Peter Palumbo, the chair of the Pritzker jury and a longtime friend of Hadid’s, noted, her “role as a standard bearer for the equality of women and her staunch and unremitting opposition to prejudice in its many forms. “ She was “complicated, contrary and an utterly wonderful lady of indomitable spirit” he said, and relayed a telephone conversation he had with Hadid days before her fatal heart attack March 31: she jokingly told him in an East End accent: “Ain’t feeling too good today. Can’t manage them apples and pears” (Cockney rhyming slang for “stairs”).