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Diller and Scofidio win 2019 Royal Academy architecture prize

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Elizabeth Diller and Ricardo Scofidio, founding partners of the firm behind the new £288 million London concert hall, have been named winners of the Royal Academy’s architecture award 2019 

Recognised for their ‘inspiring and enduring’ contribution to architecture, founding partners of New York-based Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DS+R) were described by judges as an ‘innovative partnership’ whose work consistently shows how buildings can ‘enhance cities and capture the public imagination’.

The annual prize, supported by the Dorfman Foundation, is now in its second year with the inaugural prize awarded to Japanese architect Itsuko Hasegawa.

Diller and Scofidio - along with partner Charles Renfro and Benjamin Gilmartin - are best known for their work in their home city of New York, including the 1.5 mile-long High Line public park and the transformation of the Lincoln Center’s half-century-old campus.

In the UK, the practice is working on a new collection and research centre for the V&A and last month unveiled designs for a major new concert hall, the Centre for Music, at London’s Barbican.

09 ds+r high line iwan baan

09 ds+r high line iwan baan

In a joint statement, the husband-and-wife team said the ‘wonderful recognition’ had prompted them to reflect on the trajectory of their practice. 

We started as dissidents, challenging architecture as a self-contained discipline and probing its intersections with other cultural forms using a large toolkit of media.

‘A combination of naivety and determination allowed us to realise some challenging projects over time but it was not until our collaboration expanded to include new partners and a growing staff that we were truly able to push architecture’s untapped agency and convert provocations into meaningful action in cities and institutions.’

22 ds+r blur building beat widmer

22 ds+r blur building beat widmer

Speaking to the AJ at the RA, jury chair Alan Stanton, co-founder of Stanton Williams, said: ‘Their [Diller and Scofidio’s] architecture is the product of experimentation and taking risk as well as thought, analysis and investigation. It springs from the creative mulch that comes from having worked with other disciplines and practitioners.

’Their work is wonderful, I look at it with a deep sense of envy which is always a good sign.’

The award jury also included LSE Cities director Ricky Burdett, Sauerbruch Hutton co-founder Louisa Hutton, head of architecture at the University of Johannesburg Lesley Lokko and broadcaster Kirsty Wark. 

The Royal Academy also announced the shortlist for the first RA Dorfman Award – a separate accolade championing architectural stars of the future from around the world.

11 ds+r the shed iwan baan

11 ds+r the shed iwan baan

The Dorfman Award finalists

Lloyd Dorfman, a trustee of the RA Development Trust, said: ‘With the RA winner and Dorfman shortlist coming from five different continents, they reflect a wide spread of global talent. We are delighted that they are attracting interest from all over the world since, when we conceived the awards, we wanted them to be truly international.’ 

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