Riken Yamamoto Awarded the 2024 Pritzker Architecture Prize

The Pritzker Architecture Prize for 2024 has been awarded to Riken Yamamoto, a distinguished architect whose practice is rooted in Japan. Recognized for his innovative approach to fostering community engagement through architecture, the jury praised Yamamoto for his skill in seamlessly integrating public and private spaces within his designs.

Born in Beijing in 1945 and relocating to Yokohama, Japan, after World War II, Yamamoto grew up in a traditional Japanese machiya. This early living arrangement, where his mother operated a pharmacy in the front and the family resided in the back, deeply influenced his understanding of the interplay between public and private realms. “The threshold on one side was for family, and on the other side for community. I sat in between,” Yamamoto reflects on his childhood experiences.

Yamamoto’s academic journey led him from graduating from Nihon University in 1968 to earning a Master of Arts in Architecture from Tokyo University of the Arts in 1971. He established ‘Riken Yamamoto & Field Shop’ in 1973, embarking on a career that saw him exploring communities worldwide, from road trips across the Americas to travels through Iraq, India, and Nepal, enriching his architectural perspective.

His portfolio showcases a wide range of projects, from the intimate Yamakawa Villa in Nagano, Japan, to the expansive Tianjin Library. Yamamoto’s philosophy centers on the importance of communal spaces in architecture, challenging the prevailing emphasis on privacy. “To recognize space, is to recognize an entire community,” he states, advocating for a balance between individual freedom and communal living.

Jury chair Alejandro Aravena lauded Yamamoto for his contributions to community-building through architecture, describing him as an architect who elevates the ordinary to the extraordinary and brings a sense of dignity to daily life.

Yamamoto is set to receive his award in Chicago this spring. The 2024 Laureate Lecture, where he will share insights into his architectural vision, is scheduled for May 16th at the Illinois Institute of Technology. The event will be accessible to both in-person and online audiences.