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US architecture critic bags Pulitzer

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An American architecture critic has won one of journalism’s most prestigious prizes - the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for criticism

The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Inga Saffron picked up the $10,000 award yesterday after the judges commended her writing which they said blended: ‘expertise, civic passion, and sheer readability into arguments that consistently stimulate and surprise.’

Saffron’s Changing Skyline column has been a feature in the paper since 1999 and has a focus on the city’s buildings and public spaces and also comments on issues such as the city’s waterfront development, zoning, and parking issues.

Saffron told her newsroom colleagues: ‘It’s been such an incredible privilege to do this, and I hope to do it for many more years… here, at The Inquirer.’

Among the journalist’s writings considered by the Pulitzer judges was a review last year on a new Cheesecake Factory restaurant in the centre of the city in which she wrote: ‘I’ll admit that when I first heard that the popular suburban temple of caloric overload was touching down at 15th and Walnut Streets, the news didn’t exactly stoke my appetite for good design. I imagined a generic box, done up in flat, lifeless stucco the color of American cheese, elbowing its way onto a corner that has been occupied for the better part of a century by three ordinary, but charming, commercial buildings.

‘But the architecture gods have smiled on Philadelphia,’ she wrote.

Saffron, who joined The Inquirer in 1984, has had a varied career, including spells in Moscow and reporting on the war in what was Yugoslavia.

The latest Pulitzer is the twentieth for The Inquirer; the last one being in 2012 for Public Service based on a series on violence in Philadelphia public schools.

This year, The Guardian and the Washington Post each were awarded the most high-profile Pulitzer prize for public service for their coverage of surveillance by the National Security Agency.

Other winners were Reuters for its stories on the violent persecution of a Muslim minority in Myanmar and The Boston Globe for its news coverage of the Boston Marathon bombing.

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