New Museum Architects Ryue Nishizawa, Kazuyo Sejima Win Pritzker Prize

Surprise, surprise! The Pritzker committee makes history by awarding architecture’s top honors to its first male-and-female duo, designers of NYC’s iconic museum and the Rolex Learning Center in Switzerland.

New Museum Architects Ryue Nishizawa, Kazuyo Sejima Win Pritzker Prize


In a move that surprised everyone (even us!), the Pritzker committee made history today by naming Ryue Nishizawa and Kazuyo
Sejima as recipients of the 2010
Architecture Prize
. It’s only the second time that the award has gone to a woman, the second time the award has gone to a duo, and the first-ever award for a male-female duo.

“For architecture that is simultaneously delicate and powerful, precise and fluid, ingenious but not overly or overtly clever,” reads the jury citation. “For the creation of buildings that successfully interact with their contexts and the activities they contain, creating a sense of fullness and experiential richness; for a singular architectural language that springs from a collaborative process that is both unique and inspirational; for their notable completed buildings and the promise of new projects together, Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa are the recipients of the 2010 Pritzker Architecture Prize.”

The Japanese Sejima and Nishizawa, who practice under the name SANAA, have worked together since 1995. They are probably best known for their New Museum of Contemporary Art building on the Bowery in New York City, a stacked, wire-mesh wrapped sculpture that nodded to its in-transition surroundings.

Kazuyo Sejima 
& Ryue Nishizawa

Their biggest major building was just completed in Switzerland, the undulating concrete planes of the Rolex
Learning Center
which appear to rise naturally out of the site.


The Glass Pavilion at the Toledo Museum of Art opened in 2006 and features hundreds of curved glass panels that make up most of the exterior and interior walls.

More glass wraps the circular 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art in Kanazawa, Japan, which has no front or back, making for a truly accessible, public building.

A cube with seemingly-random punched-out windows that flood the interiors with light created a landmark structure for the Zollverein School for Management and Design in Germany.


SANAA was also chosen to design the Serpentine Pavilion in 2009, an honor bestowed upon many of their now-fellow Pritzker laureates. A ceremony for the duo will be held on May 17 in New York City where they will receive a $100,000 grant. You can see the official media kit here.

Top photo by Takashi Okamoto; Rolex photo by Hisao Suzuki; Glass Pavilion photo by Ralph Lieberman; all photos courtesy SANAA.

[Pritzker Prize]

About the author

Alissa is a design writer for publications like Fast Company, GOOD and Dwell who can most often be found in Los Angeles. She likes to walk, ride the bus, and eat gelato.