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Steven Holl wins 2010 Jencks Award

American architect Steven Holl whose practice is designing the £50 million extension to the ‘Mackintosh’ in Glasgow has won this year’s Jencks Award

The 62 year old becomes the latest star to pick up the Jencks Award: Visions Built, which is given to an individual or practice which made a ‘major contribution simultaneously to the theory and practice of architecture’,. He follows in the footsteps of Zaha Hadid, Foreign Office Architects, Peter Eisenman, Cecil Balmond, UNStudio, Wolf D. Prix & Coop Himmelb(l)au and Charles Correa.

Holl will pick up his award at the RIBA on 30 November 2010 after which he will give a public lecture chaired by Charles Jencks.

Speaking about the award Jencks said: ‘Steven Holl has divided his time between writing and architecture, as he says, “making a book is like making a building. It takes a lot of effort and is agonizing, but somehow also very fulfilling because you have to make things coalesce.” This two-way traffic between theory and practice has led to the considered development of several themes, which work on different scales.

‘For smaller commissions, houses and chapels, he has explored a tightly layered and faceted aesthetic based on light studies – direct, oblique and reflected colours that play over intricate surfaces. This research is furthered through his watercolours and writings on phenomenology - both a form of theoretical investigation. From them comes a haptic architecture, related to that of Carlo Scarpa, and one that engages many senses, not just the visual.

He added: ‘At the large scale Holl investigates more conceptual and systematic models, such as structural and scientific ideas of porosity or the fractal known as Menger’s Sponge. Here his urban work in the USA and China creates formal order at several scales, and is tied to social ideas of passage, meeting and communal well-being. Colour, light and phenomenology also inform his city buildings and together with his domestic architecture, writing and watercolour, form a consistent body of work that is as rare as it is impressive.’

Factfile: Steven Holl

Considered one of America’s most important architects, Steven Holl is recognised for his ability to blend space and light with great contextual sensitivity and to utilize the unique qualities of each project to create a concept-driven design. 

He specializes in integrating new projects into contexts with particular cultural and historic importance. His work ranges across cultural, civic, academic and residential projects in the United States and internationally. Some of his most acclaimed buildings include the Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art in Helsinki (1998), the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, the Sarphatistraat Offices, Amsterdam (2000) and the Chapel of St Ignatius, Seattle, Washington (1997).

Steven Holl Architects have recently won  international design competitions including an extension to Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s Glasgow School of Art, Cite du Surf et de l’Ocean, Biarritz and Sail Hybrid, a seaside resort project in the town of Knokke-Heist, Belgium. Steven Holl is a watercolourist, a widely published author and a tenured Professor at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture and Planning. In his lecture he will be discussing his work alongside his interest in the poetics of space, colour and material.




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