Luis Ferreira Alves
Works by Eduardo Souto de Moura: above, a soccer stadium carved out of a granite quarry in Braga, Portugal.
Eduardo Souto de Moura, a Portuguese architect whose work combines the abstract minimalism of Mies van der Rohe with a preference for local materials and building techniques, has been awarded the 2011 Pritzker Prize, architecture‚Äôs highest honor.
Mr. Souto de Moura, 58, who lives and works in Porto, a northern city, is the second Portuguese architect to win the prize. The first, in 1992, was his mentor, Alvaro Siza.
The choice, announced on Monday, casts a spotlight on an architect deeply respected by his colleagues but not widely known by the public outside of Portugal, where he has done most of his work.
‚ÄúYou could say he‚Äôs an architect‚Äôs architect,‚ÄĚ said Karen Stein, a writer and design consultant who is on the jury for the Pritzker. She added: ‚ÄúHis architecture requires careful looking. It‚Äôs I guess what‚Äôs referred to as ‚Äėslow architecture.‚Äô You really have to take the time to look at all the parts and pieces.‚ÄĚ
Mr. Souto de Moura, who was traveling and not available to be interviewed, was born and educated in Porto, Portugal‚Äôs second-largest city. He studied sculpture before switching to architecture and working, from 1975 to 1979, for Mr. Siza, who encouraged him to start his own firm. The two men remain very close; their offices are in the same building, and they have collaborated on several projects.
Among Mr. Souto de Moura‚Äôs major works is a soccer stadium set into a mountain in Braga, Portugal, which was completed in 2004. It is in a former granite quarry, and more granite was blasted away and crushed to make concrete for the structure. The stadium has two long sides, with the jagged face of the mountain forming a third side and the fourth open to a view of the city.
Ms. Stein described the stadium as ‚Äúmuscular and monumental‚ÄĚ but said it also conveyed a feeling of intimacy.
Kenneth B. Frampton, a professor of architectural history at Columbia University, said that Mr. Souto de Moura‚Äôs early private residences, built in the 1980s, combine a Miesian use of steel structure and large expanses of glass with the kind of masonry walls typical of the region around Porto. Mr. Frampton said that he once commented to Mr. Souto de Moura on his use of masonry.
‚ÄúHe said, ‚ÄėI think I‚Äôve used the last generation of craftsmen who know how to make walls like this,‚Äô ‚ÄĚ Mr. Frampton recalled.
In recent years Mr. Souto de Moura has designed a museum in Cascais, Portugal, dedicated to the work of the Portuguese artist Paula Rego, which is composed of a set of geometric volumes in red concrete, and an office complex in Porto that combines a vertical tower and a low, horizontal building. Mr. Frampton said that the complex, with its rhythm of solids and voids, ‚Äúovercomes the almost fatal banality of high-rise office buildings.‚ÄĚ
The Pritzker Prize, created in 1979 by Jay A. and Cindy Pritzker, is awarded annually to a living architect who is deemed to have made ‚Äúsignificant contributions to humanity and the built environment through the art of architecture.‚ÄĚ In the past the award, which comes with $100,000, has gone to internationally famous architects like Norman Foster, Rem Koolhaas and Zaha Hadid.
Mr. Frampton, who has criticized much celebrated late-20th-century architecture as being overly spectacular, was surprised but delighted to hear that Mr. Souto de Moura had won.
‚ÄúIt would be hard to think of an architecture further removed from Thom Mayne,‚ÄĚ he said, referring to the 2005 Pritzker Prize winner, who is known for bold theatrical designs, like that of his 2009 academic building at the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art.
‚ÄúSouto de Moura‚Äôs work is sort of more grounded in a way,‚ÄĚ Mr. Frampton said. His buildings ‚Äúhave very strong presence as works, but they haven‚Äôt been thought out as images from the beginning,‚ÄĚ he added. ‚ÄúThey have their character coming from the way in which they have been developed as structures.‚ÄĚ