Obscure Swiss Architect Wins Pritzker Prize

Zumthor 'reaffirmed architecture’s indispensable place'
By Drew Nelles,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 12, 2009 5:17 PM CDT
People swim in the Therme Spa built by Swiss architect Peter Zumthor, in Vals, Canton of Grisons, Switzerland. Zumthor has won the 2009 Pritzker Architecture Prize   (AP Photo/Keystone/Martin Ruetschi, file)
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(Newser) – You’ve probably never heard of him, but tomorrow Peter Zumthor will receive what’s considered the Nobel Prize of architecture, the New York Times reports. His work isn’t flashy or well-known, but he “develops buildings of great integrity—untouched by fad or fashion” that have “reaffirmed architecture’s indispensable place in a fragile world,” the Pritzker Prize’s jury citation reads.

True to his reputation as hands-on and down-to-earth, the Swiss architect likes to keep things simple. “I’m this guy who, when I take on a commission, I do it inside out, everything myself, with my team,” he says. Perhaps Zumthor’s most famous work is a Swiss spa that mirrors ancient baths, though he also became known for designing a scrapped museum on Nazi Germany called the Topography of Terror.