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Pritzker Prize, Gold Medal, Soane Medal ... now Rafael Moneo wins Praemium Imperiale

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Spanish architect Rafael Moneo, 80, has won the prestigious Praemium Imperiale award for architecture

Awarded by the Japan Art Association and worth about £110,000, the prize is the richest in architecture and is part of the wider Praemium Imperiale Laureates award programme, often cited as the ‘cultural Nobel Prize’.

The architect has already received the Pritzker Architecture Prize (1996) and the RIBA Royal Gold Medal (2003) and recently won the inaugural Soane Medal.

His most famous buildings are his National Museum of Roman Art (1986) in Mérida, Spain; the Madrid Atocha railway station (1992); the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels (2002) in Los Angeles; and the Prado Museum Extension (2007) in Madrid.

The Japan Art Association praised Moneo for the way he blends his buildings ‘effortlessly into the city landscape, while at the same time, respecting the environment’.

The citation reads: ‘In the case of the Prado Museum Extension, his ability to combine the old and new seamlessly is wonderfully showcased. Moneo believes that buildings should integrate harmoniously into the city environment, and is careful to ensure that his refined designs are not obtrusive – while still maintaining a clear identity and connection to his creative vision.’


1937    Born in Tudela, Navarra, Spain
1958-61    Worked at the office of Francisco Javier Sáenz de Oiza
1961    Obtained degree from the Escuela Técnica Superior, Madrid
1962    Worked at the office of Jǿrn Utzon in Denmark
1963    Spent two years at the Spanish Academy, Rome
1967    Diestre Factory, Zaragoza, Spain
1976    Bankinter (Bank) in Madrid
1981    City Hall of Logrono, Spain
1985-90    Dean at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design
1986    National Museum of Roman Art, Mérida, Spain
1987    L’Illa Diagonal, Barcelona, Spain, in collaboration with Manuel Solà-Morales
1990    Kursaal Auditorium and Congress Center, San Sebastián, Spain
1991    Murcia City Hall Extension, Spain; San Pablo Airport, Seville, Spain

Rafael Moneo’s town hall extension, Murcia, Spain

Rafael Moneo’s town hall extension, Murcia, Spain

Rafael Moneo’s town hall extension, Murcia, Spain

1992    Madrid Atocha railway station; The Pilar and Joan Miro Foundation, Palma de Mallorca, Spain
1996    Pritzker Architecture Prize; Souks, Beirut, Lebanon
1998    Moderna Museet and Swedish Centre for Architecture and Design, Stockholm, Sweden
2000    Audrey Jones Beck Building, Houston, Texas
2001    Iesu Church, San Sebastián, Spain
2002    Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, Los Angeles, California
2003    RIBA Royal Gold Medal
2005    Northwest Corner Building, Columbia University, New York, USA, in collaboration with Moneo-Brock Studio
2007    Museo del Prado extension, Madrid, Spain; Neuroscience Institute and Department of Psychology, Princeton University, USA
2009    New Library of the University of Deusto, Bilbao, Basque Country, Spain
2012    Thomas Jefferson Medal in Architecture; Prince of Asturias Award for the Arts
2015    Museum University of Navarra, Pamplona, Spain

The Praemium Imperiale is awarded in five categories: architecture, painting, sculpture, music and film/theatre.

Previous recipients of the architecture prize have included Steven Holl, David Chipperfield and Zaha Hadid.

KIR 19569 jpg

Praemium Imperiale architecture laureates 1989-2017
2017 Rafael Moneo
2016 Paulo Mendes Da Rocha
2015 Dominique Perrault
2014 Steven Holl
2013 David Chipperfield
2012 Henning Larsen
2011 Ricardo Legorreta
2010 Toyo Ito
2009 Zaha Hadid
2008 Peter Zumthor
2007 Herzog & de Meuron
2006 Frei Otto
2005 Yoshio Taniguchi
2004 Oscar Niemeyer
2003 Rem Koolhaas
2002 Norman Foster
2001 Jean Nouvel
2000 Richard Rogers
1999 Fumihiko Maki
1998 Álvaro Siza
1997 Richard Meier
1996 Tadao Ando
1995 Renzo Piano
1994 Charles Correa
1993 Kenzo Tange
1992 Frank Gehry
1991 Gae Aulenti
1990 James Stirling
1989 IM Pei
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