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Spanish trio scoop prestigious US architecture prize

Associated Press logo Associated Press 3/1/2017 By BARRY HATTON, Associated Press

LISBON, Portugal (AP) — A team of three Spanish architects has won the 2017 Pritzker Architecture Prize, with the jury praising their work for blending buildings into landscapes and connecting time and place.

The award for Catalonia-based architects Rafael Aranda, Carme Pigem and Ramon Vilalta was announced Wednesday by Tom Pritzker, chairman and president of the Chicago-based Hyatt Foundation, which sponsors the prize.

The three architects from Olot, in the northeast Catalonian region of Spain, have worked together collaboratively since founding an architecture firm in their hometown almost 30 years ago. Their projects include a nursery school, a restaurant and a winery. Apart from Spain, they have built in Belgium and France.

Pritzker winners receive a $100,000 (94,000 euros) grant. The award ceremony will be in Tokyo in May.

It is the second time in 39 years that the award has gone to Spain, following Rafael Moneo's win in 1996. Other past winners of the prize include I.M. Pei, Frank Gehry, Oscar Niemeyer and Norman Foster.

Pigem, the only woman in the trio, said that after the three architects graduated they decided to return to their hometown and start a company together.

"We have grown together as architects. We get on very well together. We regard that as our biggest success — staying together," she said by telephone from Olot, which lies close to the border with France.

The group has no immediate plans to expand operations.

"We're just savoring our success," Pigem said. "As for what happens from now on, we'll see."

The jury said that "what sets (the winners) apart is their approach that creates buildings and places that are both local and universal at the same time ... All their works have a strong sense of place and are powerfully connected to the surrounding landscape."

The jury praised the prize-winning architects' own premises — a former foundry built in the early 20th century have embraced the past.

"By adding new elements only where needed and in contrasting materials, the architects demonstrate their love for both tradition and innovation," the jury said.

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