Pritzker Architecture Prize

The Pritzker Architecture Prize, undoubtedly the most prestigious architecture award in the world, is having its ceremony in Miami this week.

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May 3, 2017 – MCAT CARS Passage

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The Pritzker Architecture Prize, undoubtedly the most prestigious architecture award in the world, is having its ceremony in Miami this week. This year, the Pritzker Prize jury awarded the honor to Frei Otto, a German architect known for his tensile and membrane structures, most notably those he designed for the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich.

The prize described his work as “lightweight, open to nature and natural light, non-hierarchical, democratic, low-cost, energy-efficient, and sometimes designed to be temporary.”

While his name will be recognized by few outside the architecture community, it is easy to look at his body of work and see the role he played in shaping modern architecture. His works were grand and intimate, feather-light and impossibly strong, utilitarian and inspiring.

While Otto’s structures were exceptional in their own right, his greatest achievement was creating architecture for the masses. His most important works were enormously public and welcoming, created for the many rather than the few. It is extraordinarily fitting that the prize should be awarded to Otto in Miami, for our city desperately needs more people who think like him.

Otto died in Germany on March 9. In one of his last public statements before his death, he said upon winning the Pritzker Prize: “I have never done anything to gain this prize. My architectural drive was to design new types of buildings to help poor people, especially following natural disasters and catastrophes. So what shall be better for me than to win this prize? I will use whatever time is left to me to keep doing what I have been doing, which is to help humanity.”

While everyone should aspire to embody the humanist spirit of Otto’s work, the city fails, unfortunately, to live up to his non-hierarchal philosophies. Miami is disconnected and divided, often serving the interests of the well-to-do at the cost of the poor and working class, a population that Otto hoped to serve through his architecture.

Although the city has experienced a significant population boom, there are few public spaces to serve its people. According to the Trust for Public Land’s 2014 City Parks report, Miami has just 2.9 acres of park space per 1,000 residents, which lags far behind other major U.S. cities such as Los Angeles (9.4 acres per thousand residents) and even New York (4.6 acres per thousand residents).

Moreover, what little undeveloped land is left in the city is largely going toward private developments. Developers have carved out public spaces in their projects that are open to all, although often these spaces feel as if they were created for the greater benefit of the developments rather than that of the community at large.

However, too often, private developments allocate little or no public space at all, either because that is what tenants want or because investors want to extract as much profit as possible.

While the city has more towering structures than ever, little of that is accessible to the majority of residents, and often these structures come at a steep price.

Much of the development that dominates the skyline are luxury condominiums. While many are eye-catching, these buildings can be best described as ivory towers that exclude all but the privileged few who can afford to live in them. Moreover, the lack of affordable and mixed-income housing has made rents and home prices among the highest in the country.

The community has spent billions of dollars on stadiums that are only accessible to those who can afford the price of admission and largely benefit already wealthy team owners. It continues to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on roadway expansions while its public-transit system remains second-rate. While the city has seen an influx of capital in recent years, homelessness and poverty remain pervasive issues that show few signs of slowing down.

Otto often questioned how his work could benefit mankind. When speaking with Icon magazine in 2005, he was critical of grandiose structures such as Buckminster Fuller’s vision of an enormous dome over Manhattan, asking to himself: “What does society really need?”

This question grounded Otto’s work, and it is a question that greater Miami’s leaders must ask themselves. As the city continues to mature, we must look at the road ahead and think critically about the direction in which our community is heading. What does our city really need and how can we create one that benefits all of its residents?

Adapted from miamiherald.

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This was an article on Architecture.

Have a great day.
Jack Westin
MCAT CARS Instructor.
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29 Comments


  1. PAP (Pritzker archirect prize) to otto
    Miama lacks ottos humanity philosophy (i.e. underserves its people, especially poor)

    Reply

  2. PAP is most prestigious award in architecture.
    otto won.
    otto focuses on humanity, interested in what the population actually needs.
    however, in Miami for EX. not practical for most of population. city focuses on high SES population and deems population with low SES as pervasive.
    what would benefit humanity as a whole?

    Reply

  3. PAP awarded to Otto. Author supports Otto. We should serve humanity first not just top tier class.

    Reply

  4. Author advocate for embodying the humanistic spirit of Frei’s work in creating affordable community for the poor

    Reply

  5. Author praises Frei and advocate for embodying the humanistic spirit of Frei’s work in creating affordable community for the poor in Miami

    Reply

  6. Otto’s desire is to help humanity, Miami fails to help poor

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  7. Miami architect = doesn’t benefit all + Otto against

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  8. Otto Received most prestigious architecture awards not only for his design but also for his contribution to humanitarian structures. He was honored in Miami, a city thats lacks structures and public spaces for lower income people. Space often allowed to private developers who keep their profits a priority. Larger buildings and roads being made while less is being contributed to public transit and low income housing. Otto wants us to think about what society really needs.

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  9. Otto = builds for the society + Miami does otherwise

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  10. Otto’s vision should be Miami’s vision. Build space that include all and especially don’t build them just for the rich

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  11. Otto’s humanism in building the community to support the poor is not embraced in the city of Miami. The city cares about making profit by building luxurious hotels and stadiums that only ones that can afford can use the amenities. The poor are driven out of the picture.

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  12. Otto is deserving of his award; MIami is a city where wealthy is benefitted while poor do not have many opportunities

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  13. Otto work = for public + humanity. City = no public space.

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  14. Otto’s work = for public, Miami = for privileged people.

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  15. Otto = creating for the masses, non-hierarchical; Miami = lack affordable housing and public space
    AU Otto++ Miami–

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  16. Otto: thought about humanity and how to build for many. Current Miami leaders: think of their own profit rather than community benefits.

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  17. Otto = imp to arch + inspiring + humanist, miami /=/ humanist + disconnected, private dev /=/ public = luxury + not affordable; author = neutral

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  18. The author’s main ideas were that Otto wanted his architecture to be used for the greater good, and be open to everyone for everyone to enjoy.

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  19. MI: PP given to otto = Build to help less fortunate people. Miami currently opposite should be more like otto

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  20. The purpose of this author’s writing to enlighten Miami’s architects and developers with the philosophies of Otto about developing and building for the benefit of the community and not just the rich. Miami is growing rapidly, but in the wrong direction, in which it’s only benefiting the rich and not everyone who lives in the city. They need to start building for everyone.

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  21. MI: Otto’s Best work = open to public
    MI2: City =/= build for the public’s interests

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  22. MIP: otto = helped the masses/poor + Miami = mostly inaccessible/expensive to people; tone = + towards Otto

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  23. MIP: use architecture help poor (Otto); Miami architecture =/= serve poor; future of Miami = how to benefit all residents

    Reply

  24. Otto= great architect= humanist= work influence Miami= help poor/all residents
    Miami increase in pop= decrease in public space= decreased focus on poor

    Reply

  25. MIP: Otto – Build to help humanity
    MIP 2: Miami – builds for the rich, disregarding poor

    Reply

  26. need to match architecture/housing to societal needs; otto = good architect

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  27. The architectural work and true purpose of Otto is described in order to persuade the audience to really ask themselves what their community needs, and how they can achieve those things. The passage states how Miami has not fulfilled Ottos desire of helping those in need, and the Author proposes that communities should consider what’s best for them as a whole.

    Reply

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