News Brief

Pritzker Winners Have Never Demolished a Building

Experts in reusing existing buildings, Anne Lacaton and Jean-Philippe Vassal have received architecture’s highest international honor.

Paris social housing interior, looking outward onto a porch

Blurring the indoors and outdoors is a signature design element of the pair, who aim to provide access to nature in all weather.

Photo © Philippe Ruault, courtesy of the Pritzker Architecture Prize
An act of violence.

That’s how architect Anne Lacaton describes building demolition. Lacaton and Jean-Philippe Vassal, who have vowed to never tear down a building, have won 2021’s Pritzker Prize—an award often described as the equivalent of a Nobel Prize in architecture. Even when they build new, the two “reexamine sustainability in their reverence for pre-existing structures, conceiving projects by first taking inventory of what already exists,” according to a Pritzker press release.

From single-family homes to public housing projects to museums, the two have a long track record of reviving existing buildings by opening up space to make it more flexible and to add outdoor access, even in winter. “The architects have expressed that buildings are beautiful when people feel well in them, when the light inside is beautiful and the air is pleasant, and when there is an easy flow between the interior and exterior,” notes the jury citation. “There is a humility in the approach that respects the aims of the original designers and the aspirations of the current occupants.”

More on existing building reuse

Saying Goodbye to the Office—and Hello to Housing

Existing Buildings Are Architecture’s Future

“All for Reuse” Looks to Cut Embodied Carbon

For more information:

Hyatt Foundation

Published May 3, 2021

Melton, P. (2021, April 21). Pritzker Winners Have Never Demolished a Building. Retrieved from

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