Lina Bo Bardi, the late Italian-born Brazilian architect, writer, illustrator, scenographer, and industrial designer who tied her expressive modernism to the cultures and traditions of her adopted home, will receive the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement in memoriam at this year’s Venice Architecture Biennale.
Over a nearly five decade career, Bo Bardi designed buildings, chairs, and theatrical productions in Brazil. Among architects, she’s known both for residences like Casa de Vidro (Glass House) and for her cultural and institutional work. Her most recognized buildings in this category are the SESC–Fábrica da Pompéia, where Bo Bardi repurposed a steel drum factory into a community recreation center, and Brazil’s first modern art museum, Museu de Arte de São Paulo (MASP), a glass and concrete structure anchored to the ground with cheeky red supports.
Hashim Sarkis, the dean of the School of Architecture and Planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and this year’s Biennale curator, called Bo Bardi’s Special Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement a “long overdue recognition” for the architect, who died in 1992 in São Paulo. He praised her work and legacy in a press release:
“If there is one architect who embodies most fittingly the theme of the Biennale Architettura 2021, it is Lina Bo Bardi. Her career as a designer, editor, curator, and activist reminds us of the role of the architect as convener and importantly, as the builder of collective visions. Lina Bo Bardi also exemplifies the perseverance of the architect in difficult times whether wars, political strife, or immigration, and her ability to remain creative, generous, and optimistic throughout.”
Instituto Bardi, the Sao Paulo-based organization that stewards the late architect and designer’s legacy, expressed thanks for the posthumous award:
“We hope that the 2021 edition of La Biennale—rather than inflate her popularity as an architectural icon—will help to even better contextualize and communicate the depth of Lina Bo Bardi’s critical view of the world: always caring for the least culturally represented, consistently aware of the importance of diversity in art and architecture, and committed to a multidisciplinary approach to architecture bringing together people from all walks of life.”
While the 2018 Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement went to British-born, New York City-based architect Kenneth Frampton, 2010 was the last time an in memorium Golden Lion was awarded. That year, the honor went to Japanese architect Kazuo Shinohara.