Ben Pentreath, a London-based architectural and interior designer, author, and educator best known for his work at experimental planned communities including Charles III’s Poundbury in Dorset, England, has been named as 2023 recipient of the Richard H. Driehaus Prize at the University of Notre Dame School of Architecture.
Established in 2003, the prestigious global prize is awarded annually to “a living architect whose work embodies the highest ideals of traditional and classical architecture in contemporary society, and creates a positive cultural, environmental, and artistic impact.” The $200,000 prize is named for the late Richard H. Driehaus, a Chicago investor, philanthropist, and champion of historic preservation who passed away in March 2021 at the age of 78.
Luxembourgish architect, theorist, and urban planner Léon Krier was named as the inaugural Driehaus Prize recipient in 2003; fellow laureates include Jaquelin T. Robertson (2007), Andrés Duany and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk (2008), Robert A.M. Stern (2011), Michael Graves (2012), Pier Carlo Bontempi (2014), Scott Merrill (2016), and 2021 recipient Rob Krier, who is the older brother of fellow laureate and Poundbury master planner Léon Krier.
Stefanos Polyzoides, Driehaus Prize jury chair and dean of Notre Dame’s School of Architecture, noted in the prize announcement that Pentreath’s “artistry and architecture combine to create urbanism across all contexts while he works effortlessly in harmony with the local landscape, heritage, climate, and culture of the settings where his [projects are] rooted—lending an aura of both authenticity and cultural continuity to it.”
“Most importantly, the work conveys a sense of stewardship of the Earth and its resources at a time when an attitude of conservation and investment should be an essential part of the solutions to address the environmental crisis of our time,” added Polyzoides, who is also among the founders of the Congress for the New Urbanism.
Educated at the University of Edinburgh and later attending the Prince of Wales’s Institute of Architecture, Pentreath founded his eponymous architectural practice in 2004. Great name recognition came in 2013 with the opening of Pentreath & Hall, a fashionable housewares shop in London’s West End co-founded by designer and decorative artist Bridie Hall.
With his firm, Pentreath has designed myriad commercial and residential buildings at several planned communities, or new towns, on the United Kingdom’s urban-rural fringes, most notably at Poundbury as well as near Truro, Cornwall, and Tornagrain in the Scottish Highlands.
Ben Pentreath's Butter Cross Bakery at Poundbury, Dorset, England.
Photo by Alex Liivet via Wikimedia Commons, CC0 1.0
The prize jury praised Pentreath’s neo-classical designs for their ability to “unerringly establish a sense of place, whether new or in the transformation of the existing.”
“The durable construction, arrangement of interior spaces to take advantage of natural lighting and ventilation and placement and siting in mixed-use, walkable cities and towns and villages offer alternatives to the current notions of green architecture which typically rely solely on technological solutions,” the jury citation added.
The 2023 Driehaus Architecture Prize jury was composed of Robert Davis, developer and founder of Seaside, Florida; Melissa DelVecchio, partner at Robert A.M. Stern Architects; Michael Lykoudis, professor of architecture at the University of Notre Dame; and past laureates Léon Krier, Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, and Demetri Porphyrios.
Pentreath will be awarded with the prize at a March 25 ceremony held in Chicago. During the ceremony, Adele Chatfield-Taylor, historic preservationist and president emerita of the American Academy in Rome, will also be presented with this year’s Henry Hope Reed Award. That prize, awarded annually in conjunction with the Driehaus Architecture Prize, recognizes individuals working outside the practice of architecture who support the “cultivation of the traditional city, its architecture and its art.”