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Rafael Moneo Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement
Architecture -

Rafael Moneo Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement

The inauguration of the Biennale Architettura 2021 and the Golden Lion award ceremony took place on Saturday 22 May at 11 am in Venice.

Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement

The Spanish architect, educator, critic and theoretician Rafael Moneo is the recipient of the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement of the 17th International Architecture Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia, that opened to the public on Saturday May 22nd 2021.

The decision was made by the Board of Directors of La Biennale di Venezia, upon recommendation of the Curator of the Biennale Architettura 2021, Hashim Sarkis.


«Rafael Moneo is one of the most transformative architects of his generation - Hashim Sarkis stated.
As a practitioner, and through his broad array of buildings, like the Kursaal Auditorium, The Prado Museum, the Atocha Train Station, and the Los Angeles Cathedral, he has highlighted the ability of every architectural project to respond to contingencies of site and program while transcending them.
As an educator, he has rigorously guided several generations of architects towards architecture as a vocation. As a scholar, he has combined his visual prowess and analytic rigors to help reinterpret some of the most canonical historic buildings with fresh eyes.
As a critic of the contemporary scene, he has written on emerging phenomena and key projects and has established some of the most important dialogues on the present scene of architecture with colleagues from around the world.
Throughout his long career, Moneo has maintained a poetic prowess, reminding us of the powers of architectural form to express, shape but also to endure. He has also been tenaciously committed to architecture as an act of building.
The Golden Lion for lifetime achievement is only befitting for the architect who took part in the Giudecca housing project of 1983, who won the competition for a new Cinema Palace at the Lido di Venezia in 1991, and who has drawn many a lesson for architecture from Venice».

To celebrate Rafael Moneo, the curator Sarkis has set up a little exhibition inside the Book Pavilion at the Giardini: a selection of plastic models and emblematic pictures of the buildings realised by the Spanish architect, that can be seen as an answer to the question How will we live together?

The acknowledgment was awarded to Rafael Moneo on Saturday 22 May together with the the Special Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement in memoriam to Lina Bo Bardi, during the awards ceremony and inauguration of the Biennale Architettura 2021.

Biographical note

Rafael Moneo (Tudela, Spain, 1937) graduated in 1961 from the Escuela Técnica Superior of Madrid. From 1958 to 1961 he worked with the architect Francisco Javier Sáenz de Oiza in Madrid and from 1961-62 in Hellebaeck, Denmark with Jørn Utzon. In 1963 he was awarded a fellowship at the Spanish Academy in Rome.
Upon his return to Spain in 1965, he opened his office in Madrid and began teaching at the Escuela Técnica Superior of Madrid. In 1970 he won a teaching chair in architectural theory at the Escuela Técnica Superior of Barcelona. From 1980 to 1985 he was chaired professor of composition at the Escuela Técnica Superior of Madrid.
In 1985 Rafael Moneo was appointed Chairman of the Architecture Department of the Harvard University Graduate School of Design, a position he held until 1990. In 1991 he was named Josep Lluís Sert Professor of Architecture at Harvard University Graduate School of Design where he continues to lecture as Professor Emeritus.
Among his best known works are the transformation of the Villahermosa Palace into the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum (1989-92), the Pilar and Joan Miró Foundation in Palma de Mallorca (1987-1992), the Diagonal Building in Barcelona (in collaboration with Manuel de Solá-Morales, 1988-1993), the Museums of Modern Art and Architecture in Stockholm, Sweden (1994-98), the Kursaal Auditorium and Congress Center in San Sebastián (1991-1999), the Prado Museum Extension (2001-2007), the Souks in Beirut (1996-2009), the Northwest Science Building for Columbia University (2007-2010), the Princeton Neuroscience Institute and Peretzman-Scully Hall (2007-2013).
Rafael Moneo has been awarded numerous prizes and distinctions including the Pritzker Prize (1996), the Royal Gold Medal of the Royal Institute of British Architects (2003), the Prince of Asturias Prize in the Arts (2013) and the Praemium Imperiale (2017). In 1997 he was elected member of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of Spain.