This had been a big year for 42-year-old Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto. He has been the focus of a special design charrette at Rome’s Maxxi Museum and then awarded the prestigious commission for the Serpentine Pavilion in London. Now he been awarded the 2013 Marcus Prize. The prize awarded by the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s School of Architecture and supported but the Marcus Corporation Foundation is meant to recognize an architect “on a trajectory to greatness.”
The jury, on which I served along with SOM partner Brian Lee, IIT Chair Donna Robertson, Milwaukee Dean Robert Greenstreet, architect Mo Zell, and David Marcus of Marcus Investments, spent a day reviewing nearly twenty portfolios of young and emerging firms from around the world.
The bi-annual award, which has a generous international perspective, has in recent years been awarded to Diébédo Francis Kéré, Kéré Architecture (2012), Chilean architect Alejandro Aravena (2010), Frank Barkow (2007), and MVRDV’s Winny Moss (2005). The winner is awarded $100,000 and asked to return to the Milwaukee architecture school and run a design studio with selected students.
It might be argued that Fujimoto is not really an emerging architect, but one who has arrived after receiving the Serpentine commission and there were many very strong candidates who equally deserved the prize, but the jury believed the Japanese architect would bring the freshest perspective to the University student body and the city of Milwaukee where he will engage in public workshops and lectures.
Both the University and the Marcus Foundation should be congratulated for creating and running this important prize.