Chilean architect Alejandro Aravena has been named the winner of the 2016 .
Founded in 1979 by Jay and Cindy Pritzker and funded by the , the prize honors a living architect whose work demonstrates a combination of talent, vision, and commitment to humanity and the built environment. Based in Santiago, Aravena has served since 2001 as executive director of ELEMENTAL, a "do tank" that employs a participatory design process in which its architects work closely with the public and end users to create work of public interest and social import. Among other things, ELEMENTAL is known for designing low-cost housing using an "incremental" approach in which the design leaves space for residents to complete their own homes on their own schedule.
Following an earthquake and tsunami in the city of Constitución in 2010, ELEMENTAL was deeply involved in reconstruction efforts, helping to develop a master plan for the city as well as the design and construction of housing and the Constitución Cultural Center. Aravena also is known for his energy-efficient buildings on the Universidad Católica de Chile campus, as well as projects in China, Germany, Mexico, and Switzerland.
"Alejandro Aravena has pioneered a collaborative practice that produces powerful works of architecture and also addresses key challenges of the twenty-first century," said Hyatt Foundation chair and president Tom Pritzker. "His built work gives economic opportunity to the less privileged, mitigates the effects of natural disasters, reduces energy consumption, and provides welcoming public space. Innovative and inspiring, he shows how architecture at its best can improve people's lives."
"No achievement is individual," said Aravena. "Architecture is a collective discipline. So we think, with gratitude, of all the people who contributed to give form to a huge diversity of forces at play. Looking into the future we anticipate freedom. The prestige, the reach, the gravitas of the prize is such that we hope to use its momentum to explore new territories, face new challenges, and walk into new fields of action."