The RIBA has named Rafael Moneo winner of the 2003 Royal Gold Medal, awarded for lifetime achievement. The Spaniard will receive the honour at an awards ceremony later this year, subject to the decision being approved this week by the RIBA's ruling council.
Moneo (pictured) was rumoured to be a contender for the honour last year, which went instead to 1960s experimental group Archigram. Past winners of the 155-year-old honour include Frank Lloyd Wright and Mies Van der Rohe.
Moneo was picked above other figures understood to have been in the running, including Robert Venturi and Alvaro Siza. Edward Cullinan was also being proposed as a strong forerunner after he just failed to pick up last year's Stirling Prize. But the choice of fellow Brit Archigram in 2002 probably worked against him - the award rarely goes to two British architects consecutively.
Madrid-based Moneo, 65, has already clinched the Pritzker Prize (1995), the UIA Gold Medal (1996) and his own country's highest accolade, the Gold Medal for Achievement in Fine Arts (1992).
Most of his work is in Spain, including perhaps his best-known building, the National Museum of Roman Art in Mérida (1986), which includes the foundations of part of the Roman city. He has also completed projects in the US, including the Davis Museum and Cultural Centre at Wellesley College in Massachusetts (1993) and an extension to Mies van der Rohe's Fine Arts Museum in Houston, Texas. His most recent project is the Cathedral of our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles (below).
Moneo has also taught at Madrid and Barcelona universities and was chairman of the department of architecture at the Harvard Graduate School of Design for five years.
The medal is awarded for a body of work, rather than one building, and the decision is based on lifetime achievement. Once the decision has been endorsed by the RIBA council, it is subject to personal approval by the Queen.
2002 Archigram (British) 2001 Jean Nouvel (French) 2000 Frank Gehry (Canadian) 1999 The City of Barcelona 1998 Oscar Niemeyer (Brazilian)
NOTABLE BRITISH WINNERS lSir Edwin Lutyens lSir James Stirling lLord Foster lLord Rogers lSir Michael and Lady Hopkins
OTHER WINNERS INCLUDE lFrank Lloyd Wright lLe Corbusier lMies van der Rohe lRenzo Piano lTadao Ando