Rafael Moneo to be awarded the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement of the Venice Architecture Biennale 2021

Words by Alessandra Bellomo
April 29, 2021

The Board of Directors of La Biennale di Venezia, upon recommendation of the Curator of the Biennale Architettura 2021, Hashim Sarkis, decided to award the Spanish architect, educator, critic, and theoretician Rafael Moneo with the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement during the 17th International Architecture Exhibition.

Moneo will receive the prize on Saturday, May 22, during the award and inauguration ceremony of the Venice Biennale. On this occasion, the Special Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement in memoriam will also be awarded to Lina Bo Bardi.

Hashim Sarkis explained the decision in this way: «Rafael Moneo is one of the most transformative architects of his generation. 

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 further honor his work, Sarkis organized a small exhibition in the Books Pavilion at the Giardini featuring a selection of plastic models and pictures of buildings realized by the Spanish architect, addressing the question of this year Biennale: “How will we live together?”


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