Leon Krier, architect to the Prince of Wales, has won the first $100,000 (£64,000) Richard H Driehaus Prize, Classical architecture's answer to the Pritzker.
The American University of Notre Dame awarded the prize to Krier in recognition of his efforts to promote traditional architecture. Krier - best known in the UK for masterplanning Poundbury, Prince Charles' model town in Dorset - said he was 'surprised but delighted' to have won.
The prize is an alternative to the Pritzker, with its bias towards the 'narrow realm' of Modernism, he said. 'Although other architecture prizes give the aura of being objective, they all tend towards the same kind of religion. Even Michelangelo wouldn't be eligible for the Pritzker.'
The judges, who included the award's benefactor, the businessman and philanthropist Richard H Driehaus, praised Krier as 'the intellectual godfather' of the US's New Urbanism movement. 'His passion for the enduring values of traditional architecture has changed hearts, minds and communities, ' they said, adding that the prize was awarded in recognition of his 'lifelong commitment to those ideals'.
Krier said he hoped the new prize would help Classical architecture earn mainstream acceptance. 'But there is no problem being accepted by the public, just by the profession itself, ' he said.
Classical architect Quinlan Terry welcomed the decision to honour Krier for 'his opposition to the doctrinal, boring old Modernism'.
'Giving awards is a way of drawing the public's attention to buildings that don't get reported on, ' Terry said. 'But I doubt it will have much effect on the British establishment.All my life I have tried to make people aware that there is an alternative. I thought it was catching on, but it is going back to how it was in the '60s. All household names in this country are committed Modernists.'
Krier was presented with his $100,000 prize and a scale model replica of the (334BC) Choregic Monument of Lysikrates in Athens. He plans to use the money towards building his house in France.