It has been won by the likes of Frank Gehry and Rem Koolhaas, and now Wang Shu’s name can be added to the list as the first Chinese architect to be awarded the prestigious 2012 Pritzker prize, seen as the Nobel prize for architecture.
The decision to award him the prize acknowledges “the role that China will play in the development of architectural ideals”, said Thomas Pritzker, chairman of the Hyatt Foundation, which sponsors the $100,000 (£60,000) prize.
The jury praised the importance of Wang’s work in a country that is modernising and urbanising at top speed.
“As an architect, everyone dreams about the prize … I’m very happy for him,” said his wife Lu Wenyu. They run a joint practice, Amateur Architects, founded in 1997. Wang is in the US and has declined media interviews as he is busy with lectures.
Past Pritzker winners include American Frank Gehry and many of the big names in European architecture who have created modern Beijing landmarks; Rem Koolhaas, designer of CCTV’s headquarters, and Swiss team Herzog and de Meuron’s Olympic Stadium.
Last year Wang was awarded the Gold Medal by France’s Academy of Architecture.