The announcement in early March that David Chipperfield had been named the 2023 Pritzker laureate sent a clear message: Architecture matters. While in service of broader societal goals, architecture remains committed to the formal, spatial, and material means through which it communicates. Spaces can inspire awe. Landmarks bring history to life, and carry that history into the future. To represent society in its broadest sense means to do so by translating it into architectural form.
In my conversation with Chipperfield, the 52nd Pritzker laureate calls for architects to embrace this sense of agency. “We can regain territory that we’ve lost,” he said. “We can regain it if we remind everybody that the principal concerns of architecture are to improve our environment and quality of life, and that we should use all our skills and tricks to do that.”
Josephine Minutillo, Editor in Chief. Photo © Jillian Nelson
Chipperfield’s point is well taken, as we are reminded in our tributes to two towering figures in the profession we lost in March. Rafael Viñoly and KPF cofounder Gene Kohn understood the power of architecture not only to give shape to buildings, but also to transform cities.
While these particular architects have dealt with large-scale cultural and commercial endeavors, no type of architecture touches our everyday lives more than the design of houses. This year’s Record Houses gives renewed attention to the pitched roof as a more-popular-than-ever component of residential architecture that transcends the traditional, the Modern, and even the Postmodern. It has come to symbolize “home.” The gable roof on the cover, rendered in an Asplund-like austerity, belongs to a Connecticut residence designed by Joeb Moore & Partners. Other pitched forms in Montana, New York, and England are executed with striking variety.
The gable need not just signify a single-family house: Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto has used that simple shape in multiple ways to create larger institutional buildings that have a sense of the familiar. Most recently, he aligned 20 blocks, some peaked, others rectangular, in a 558-foot-long row for the Ishinomaki Cultural Center, of which an early sketch is included above.
Another point could be made about this annual Record Houses issue. Most of the firms are receiving this honor for the first time: Among those are Joeb Moore & Partners, as well as nARCHITECTS (for its first-ever house); Fuller/Overby (for its first-ever ground-up project); London-based Níall McLaughlin (who last year won the Stirling Prize for a new library at Magdalene College in Cambridge); the young Mexican firm HW Studio; and Easton Combs (a 2012 Record Design Vanguard). There are recidivists: Marlon Blackwell, the 2020 AIA Gold Medalist, had his first Record House published in 1991. Some 30 years later, he won a second time, by exploring the courtyard house with intriguing results. And this is the second time within the last three years that T.W. Ryan Architecture, a young three-person studio, has a Record House.
In each case, the design of these houses was a chance for its architects—both young and not so young—to experiment. Experiments and experiences that will no doubt inform bigger projects. And, who knows? Among them may be a future Pritzker Prize–winner . . .