Italian Architect Aldo Rossi Named Pritzker Prize Winner : Architecture: The award includes a $100,000 tax-free grant. It is considered the Nobel Prize of the profession.

TIMES DESIGN CRITIC

Italian architect Aldo Rossi, known for his haunting drawings of his designs as much as for the designs themselves, is this year's Pritzker Prize laureate.

The coveted award, scheduled to be announced in Los Angeles Sunday, includes a $100,000 tax-free grant and is considered in the profession the Nobel Prize of architecture.

The actual award will be made to the 58-year-old Milan born-and-based architect in a ceremony in June at the Palazzo Grassi Museum in Venice, Italy. Last year's winner was Los Angeles architect Frank Gehry.

The Pritzker jury declared Rossi's work "at once bold and ordinary, original without being novel, refreshingly simple in appearance but extremely complex in content and meaning."

The jury added: "In a period of diverse styles and influence, Aldo Rossi has eschewed the fashionable and popular to create an architecture singularly his own."

The style pursued by Rossi emphasizes simple, reductive geometric forms, be the project a complex museum, a row of retail stores or a single house, and can best be categorized as Neo-Rationalist. The effect of the forms when exaggerated, repeated and oddly juxtaposed as Rossi tends to do is surrealistic, and recall the paintings of Giorgio de Chirico.

Most of Rossi's many designs grace his native Italy, and include a range of civic and commercial projects, from urban renewal developments, schools and museums to office and retail complexes and apartment houses. He also has designed furniture, tea services, espresso machines and toys.

His only projects completed in the United States are a housing complex in Mount Pocono, Pa., a monumental decorative arch bridging a street in Galveston, Tex., and a new school of architecture for the University of Miami under way in Cora Gables, Fla.

Rossi first attracted international attention in 1971 when he won a design competition for a cemetery in Modena, Italy, with a scheme consisting of a rectangular space surrounded by a wall of elemental architectural components, marked by repeated voids of blank empty windows.

The scheme almost immediately became a Postmodernist icon at a time the movement was on the rise, sparking arcane debates on the use of typologies and metaphors, as well as Marxist political theories as applied to architecture.

Rossi also is known for his urban design theories, and is the author of "The Architecture of the City." The book written in 1966 and since translated into seven languages is cited in the Pritzker jury's citation as a theoretical base of Rossi's designs "that seem always to be a part of the city fabric, rather than an intrusion."

Rossi is the 13th architect to be chosen as a Pritzker laureate, the honor having been established in 1979 by the Hyatt Foundation, which is supported by the Pritzker family that owns the Hyatt Hotel chain.

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