Alexandra Lange
Architecture & design critic

2016 Pritzker Prize Goes to Alejandro Aravena

Quinta Monroy housing in Chile (left, 2005; right, 2014). Photos by Cristobal Palma.

48-year old Chilean architect Alejandro Aravena has been awarded the 2016 Pritzker Prize. He’s the first laureate from Chile, the third from South America, and the fourth from Latin America. He’s also a telegenic star of the international architecture scene, best-known for a housing complex built at a cost of $7,500 per unit and a proponent of “the rigorous use of common sense” to create sustainable, affordable and resilient cities.

Tom Pritzker, president and chairman of the Hyatt Foundation, which sponsors the $100,000 prize, said in a press release, “His built work gives economic opportunity to the less privileged, mitigates the effects of natural disasters, reduces energy consumption, and provides welcoming public space.” Among the projects of interest in Aravena’s succinct, high-quality portfolio is the 2012 Bicentennial Park in Santiago, Chile (a city with a paucity of open space): a hillside full of slides, a jungle gym like a Habitrail, a fountain made of concrete bubbles. Its inclusion signals the casualness, and the sense of play, with which Aravena sets out his equitable urban agenda.