Swiss architect Peter Zumthor has been named the winner of the 2009 , architecture's highest honor, and will receive a $100,000 cash prize and bronze medal in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on May 29.
Zumthor is the second Pritzker laureate to be chosen from Switzerland and the thirty-third laureate since the prize was first awarded, in 1979, to Philip Johnson. Funded by the Chicago-based , the prize honors living architects whose work demonstrates a combination of talent, vision, and commitment and who have produced consistent and significant contributions to humanity and the built environment. In its citation of Zumthor, the jury noted that "for thirty years, he has been based in the remote village of Haldenstein in the Swiss mountains, removed from the flurry of activity of the international architectural scene. There, together with a small team, he develops buildings of great integrity, untouched by fad or fashion. Declining a majority of the commissions that come his way, he only accepts a project if he feels a deep affinity for its program."
"[I]n a society that celebrates the inessential, architecture can put up a resistance, counteract the waste of forms and meanings, and speak its own language [which] is not a question of a specific style. Every building is built for a specific use in a specific place and for a specific society," wrote Zumthor in his book Thinking Architecture. Most of his work has been done in Switzerland, but he also has designed projects in Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, England, Spain, Norway, Finland, and the United States. The Pritzker jury gave special recognition to his Thermal Baths in Vals, Switzerland; the Field Chapel to Saint Nikolaus von der Fl�e near Cologne, Germany; and the Kolumba Museum in Cologne.
According to Zumthor, the fact that "a body of work as small as ours is recognized in the professional world...should give much hope to young professionals that if they strive for quality in their work it might become visible without any special promotion."