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Three Architectural Visions 

Trailblazers of the Day | Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Luis Barragán, Oscar Niemeyer and Paulo Mendes de Rocha

Only Latino Pritzker Architecture Prize-winners

Today we celebrate the dazzling visions of three of Latin America’s greatest architects, all of whom earned the prestigious Pritzker Architecture Prize. Given annually to a living architect by the Chicago-based Hyatt Foundation, the award includes a $100,000 prize and a medallion inspired by the work of Chicago architect Louis Sullivan.

Luis Barragán is widely-regarded as Mexico’s finest architect. Only the second winner of the Pritzker Prize (1980), Barragán was known for a minimalist style, bold use of color planes and integration of nature. He believed in “bringing the outdoors in”, evident in his Mexico City home (a popular tourist attraction). His brightly-colored Torres de Satélite is one of Mexico City’s most recognizable sculptures.

Only 31 when he burst onto the scene with his Brazilian Pavilion at the 1939 New York World’s Fair, Oscar Niemeyer was born in Rio de Janeiro and studied under Le Corbusier. After helping design the United Nations Headquarters (1947), Niemeyer was commissioned to plan Brasilia, Brazil’s new capital. He won the Pritzker Prize (1988) for his playful, lyrical style which resembles free-form sculptures.

As much an urban planner and designer as he is an architect, Paulo Mendes de Rocha was raised by Italian immigrant parents in a coastal town in Espíritu Santo, Brazil. In the 1950s, he became part of the avant-garde “Paulist Brutalist” movement, known for its use of pre-fab concrete and simple lines. He is credited with revitalizing São Paulo’s central plaza.