The “Wolf Prize” is an international award that has been presented since 1978 by the Israeli non-profit organisation Wolf Foundation to outstanding scientists and artists from around the world, regardless of “nationality, race, colour, religion, sex or political views”. A total of 345 prizes have been awarded over the years for results achieved “in the interests of mankind and friendly relations amongst peoples”. The award consists of a certificate and a cash prize, and recipients are divided into categories according to their branch of science – medicine, agriculture, mathematics, chemistry and physics – or the arts – painting, sculpting, music and architecture. The prize in architecture has been awarded to 18 architects since 1978, and it was recently announced that the 2022 prize in architecture would be awarded to three recipients: Elizabeth Diller, founder of Diller Scofidio + Renfro; and Momoyo Kaijima and Yoshiharu Tsukamoto, founders of Atelier Bow-Wow.
The jury recognised a number of common qualities shared by the three professionals, who come from different personal and professional backgrounds, including their commitment to research, teaching and practice for the progress of the discipline, as well as outstanding qualities challenging norms to advance the field of architecture at a time of considerable world change, when social and cultural values are being questioned. The judges’ motivation emphasises “excellence through diversity”, underlining that the architects’ geographical, cultural and methodological differences represent different ideas of collaboration, but share the same vision of the discipline’s broader role and their meaningful influence on new generations of architects.
In the specific motivation for presentation of the prize to architect Elizabeth Diller, co-founder of Diller Scofidio + Renfro, the judges emphasised her exceptional and influential work connecting architecture to artistic practice, engaged in the public domain. Diller Scofidio + Renfro has in fact completed both innovative projects such as important buildings for cultural institutions, such as The Broad contemporary art museum in Los Angeles, the expansion of MoMA in New York, or, more recently, the US Olympic and Paralympic Museum in Colorado Springs, and urban projects such as the High Line inaugurated in 2009 in New York, in which a space for the visual arts and artistic performances blends into the urban landscape.
The judges’ motivation for awarding the prize to architects Momoyo Kaijima and Yoshiharu Tsukamoto, founders of Atelier Bow-Wow, emphasises their work that highlights the importance to architecture of its ethnographic and inhabitational characteristics, in their writings and practice. The architects, who work primarily on residential projects, have also influenced younger generations with their publications “Made In Tokyo” (2001), “Behaviorology” (2010) and “Architectural Ethnography” (2018).
This is not the first time in the history of the Wolf Prize that awards have been presented to three professionals at the same time. It happened in 1992, when architects Frank O. Gehry, Denys Lasdun and Jørn Utzon shared the prize. In 2010 it was awarded to David Chipperfield and Peter Eisenman, and before that, in 1988, the prize was shared by Giancarlo De Carlo and Fumihiko Maki.
(02) 3 architects’ portraits courtesy of The Wolf Foundation (the Elizabeth Diller’s portrait by Geordie Wood)
(01, 03-10) Projects by Diller Scofidio + Renfro
Project Name: MoMA, Museum of Modern Art, New York
Architects: Diller Scofidio + Renfro
Images © 2017 Diller Scofidio + Renfro
Photography by Iwan Baan, Courtesy of MoMA
Project Name: US Olympic and Paralympic Museum Colorado
Architects: Diller Scofidio + Renfro
Images courtesy of Diller Scofidio + Renfro, photo by Jason O’Rear