Environmental Protection

Disaster Response Architect Wins 2014 Pritzker Prize

Shigeru Ban, 56, has designed lasting structures after the Kobe earthquake and the Rwanda genocide, and he founded the Voluntary Architects' Network to respond to disasters worldwide.

The internationally known architect Shigeru Ban has been awarded the 2014 Pritzker Architectural Prize, honoring his work to respond to disasters. For two decades, the Tokyo-born architect, age 56, has worked with local agencies, volunteers, and students to design low-cost shelters and community buildings for disaster victims.

"Receiving this prize is a great honor, and with it, I must continue to listen to the people I work for, in my private residential commissions and in my disaster relief work. I see this prize as encouragement for me to keep doing what I am doing — not to change what I am doing, but to grow," he said after receiving the news in his Paris office.

Ban is known for using recyclable cardboard paper tubes for columns, walls, and beams, and for designing structures that can be made with little or no waste.

He founded VAN -- the Voluntary Architects' Network -- to respond to disasters worldwide, such as earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, and wars, and he has conducted this work in Japan, Turkey, India, Sri Lanka, China, Haiti, Italy, New Zealand, and the Philippines.

Pritzker Prize jury chairman, The Lord Palumbo, said, "Shigeru Ban is a force of nature, which is entirely appropriate in the light of his voluntary work for the homeless and dispossessed in areas that have been devastated by natural disasters. But he also ticks the several boxes for qualification to the Architectural Pantheon — a profound knowledge of his subject with a particular emphasis on cutting-edge materials and technology; total curiosity and commitment; endless innovation; an infallible eye; an acute sensibility — to name but a few."

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