David Chipperfield, a prolific English architect unbound by typology and geography and celebrated for works including new buildings and tactful renovations that eschew flamboyance for “radical restraint,” was announced today as the 2023 recipient of the Pritzker Architecture Prize. Established in 1979, the Pritzker Prize is considered the profession’s most prestigious international accolade. Chipperfield is “assured without hubris, consistently avoiding trendiness to confront and sustain the connections between tradition and innovation, serving history and humanity,” said Tom Pritzker, chairman of the Hyatt Foundation, the award sponsor.
Turner Contemporary (2011) in Margate, England. Photo courtesy Simon Menges
London-born, Devon-raised Chipperfield, 69, is the 52nd Pritzker laureate and first United Kingdom–based laureate to be named since the late British-Italian architect Richard Rogers won the prize in 2007. Notably, Chipperfield worked for Rogers—and for 1999 laureate Norman Foster—during the formative years that followed his studies at the Architectural Association School of Architecture. While on the surface, the work of those previous Pritzker laureates seems radically different from the classicism one may associate with Chipperfield, both architects were hugely influential. “The early work of Foster and Rogers was not only about technology, but about a social idea,” Chipperfield told RECORD. “For the Willis Faber building in the early 1970s, for instance, Foster persuaded a commercial company to prioritize the work environment and he put a shape to that. And I have to say from Richard Rogers, I learned an enormous amount, in terms of what he felt was the responsibility of an architect.”
Chipperfield established his eponymous London practice in 1985. Nearly 40 years on, David Chipperfield Architects now maintains offices in Berlin, Milan, Shanghai, and Santiago de Compostela, Spain, in addition to the firm’s homebase in Clerkenwell, London.
River and Rowing Museum (1989) in Henley-on-Thames, England. Photo courtesy Richard Bryant / Arcaid
Today perhaps best-known for high-profile and historically sensitive cultural commissions, in its early years the firm specialized in—and gained international recognition for—retail interiors with projects in London, Paris, Tokyo, and beyond. Chipperfield scored his first major commission in his native England in 1989 with the River and Rowing Museum in Henley-on-Thames. Completed in 1997, the Pritzker Prize noted that that project “offers a subtle but powerful discourse between modernity and heritage.”
Like his early-career mentor-employers Rogers and Foster, Chipperfield is a previous winner of Britain’s highest architecture prizes: the 2007 Stirling Prize from the Royal Institute of British Architects (for the Museum of Modern Literature in Marbach am Neckar, Germany) and RIBA’s Royal Gold Medal (2011). In addition to these accolades that now also include the Pritzker Prize, Chipperfield, appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2004 and knighted in 2010, has amassed a considerable trophy chest of accolades and honors over his career. They include the 2021 European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture for the careful, decades-long restoration of Berlin’s war-ravaged 19th-century Neues Museum, Israel’s Wolf Prize in Arts (2010), Japan’s Praemium Imperiale for Architecture (2011), among others. Chipperfield, who served as the first English curator of the Venice Architecture Biennale in 2012, was also named an honorary member of the American Institute of Architects in 2007; stateside, his firm’s completed projects include the Des Moines Public Library in Iowa (2006) and an expansion of the St. Louis Art Museum (2013).
The 2023 Jury Citation noted that Chipperfield’s “commitment to an architecture of understated but transformative civic presence and the definition—even through private commissions—of the public realm, is done always with austerity, avoiding unnecessary moves and steering clear of trends and fashions, all of which is a most relevant message to our contemporary society.”
Amorepacific headquarters (2017) in Seoul.
Photo courtesy Noshe
“We do not see an instantly recognizable David Chipperfield building in different cities, but different David Chipperfield buildings designed specifically for each circumstance,” the citation continued.
In addition to the aforementioned works, other significant completed projects include the Figge Art Museum (completed in 2005 as his first U.S. commission); America’s Cup Building ‘Veles e Vents’ in Valencia, Spain (2006); the BBC’s Scottish hub in Glasgow (2007); a pair of museum projects in England, Turner Contemporary in Margate, Kent, and the Hepworth Wakefield in Yorkshire (both 2011); Mexico City’s Museo Jumex (2013); the Seoul headquarters of Korean skincare juggernaut Amorepacific (2017); the Inagawa Cemetery Chapel and Visitor Center in Japan’s Hyōgo;prefecture, (2017); Hoxton Press, an East London housing development and the masterplan for London’s Royal Academy of the Arts (both 2018), and the heralded refurbishment of Mies van der Rohe’s landmark Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin (2021). More recent works include Morland Mixité Capitale, a mixed-use refurbishment and extension of an existing ensemble of buildings on the banks of the River Seine in Paris’s 4th arrondissement, and a careful restoration of the 16th-century Procuratie Vecchie at Venice’s Piazza San Marco, both completed in 2022. Notes Chipperfield, “There is something to be said about the importance of history, fabric, and the idea of continuity.”
Hoxton Press, a housing development in East London completed in 2018, (1) and BBC Scotland headquarters in Glasgow, completed in 2007 (2). Photos courtesy Simon Menges (1), and Ute Zscharnt for David Chipperfield Architects (2)
The 2023 Pritzker Prize jury was composed of chair and 2016 laureate Alejandro Aravena, Barry Bergdoll, Deborah Berke, Stephen Breyer (the retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice is a former chair), André Corrêa do Lago, Kazuyo Sejima (2010 Pritzker laureate along with SANAA co-founder Ryue Nishizawa), Benedetta Tagliabue, and Wang Shu (2012 Pritzker laureate).
Chipperfield will be presented with the 2023 Pritzker Prize at a ceremony held this May in Athens, where the architect just recently unveiled plans for an expansion and refurbishment of the National Archaeological Museum.