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Foster pays tribute to ‘inspirational’ architect Frei Otto

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Norman Foster has paid tribute to German architect Frei Otto who died earlier this week before he was revealed as the 2015 Pritzker Prize Laureate

The Pritzker Architecture Prize brought forward its planned award announcement, which was due to be made in two weeks time, after it emerged that the 89-year-old German had died on Monday (9 March).

Foster, who told the AJ he was ‘deeply saddened’ by Otto’s death, had written to the Pritzker jury in support of his nomination for the prize.

The Foster + Partners founder shared a tribute, which he originally wrote on the occasion of Otto’s eightieth birthday.

‘Frei Otto showed us that architecture need not be burdened by the weight of its own traditions, but could instead be free to express itself through simple but innovative sculptural forms – his was an architecture inspired by lightness’, he said.

Foster added: ‘This sense of weightlessness, and of an architecture unbound by convention, was carried over into Frei’s working relationships. Rather than working in isolation, he consistently advocated a freer role for the architect – whether this was as an educator, sharing his ideas with generations of students, or in practice, through valued joint projects with, or providing research support for, other architects and engineers.

‘For me, he reinforced the point that architecture is a fundamentally collaborative exercise. His extraordinary structures altered the nature of architectural form in the twentieth century, and his environmentalism, intelligence and foresight have established the defining architectural mentality for the twenty-first. He was an inspiration.’

Otto will be celebrated at the prize’s award ceremony on 15 May at the Frank Gehry-designed New World Centre in Miami, where other Pritzker Laureates will speak about his life and work. 

Previous story (AJ 11.03.15)

Obituary: Frei Otto (1925 – 2015)


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