Tuesday, April 14, 2009


It's Architecture's Big Prize. And this year, the winner was someone whose name doesn't necessarily ring a bell. Unless you're an archi-nerd of some variety.

Photo © Architekturburo Zumthor, Haldenstein
via Arcspace

The choice of Peter Zumthor isn't surprising, if you've seen his work. Pictures take your breath away. Well, they did for me. The first time I saw his work, way back when I was a freshmen, was revelatory. A shot of his thermal baths in Vals, Switzerland, it captured a sense of gravity, permanence, solitude. I connected with the image instinctively. I wanted to be in that photo, submerged in that still pool, lost to the world.

That gutteral response to his work was something I'd never had before. It was the response I hoped one day someone might have upon seeing my own work. So far, no luck.

Maybe it's just me, but the jury's choice seems, in particular, to reflect the current state of our profession. The flash and bang of other winners would seem a bit extravagent given the tough times we currently face. The values of craft, materials, space rise back to the forefront.

Greatness is part talent, part luck, and part timing. Making my way through school, I found myself drawn more and more to those professors who emphasized the things that Zumthor's work so effortlessly exudes. But, as I noted before, the things I had come to admire, sought to incorporate into my own work, made me a relic amongst my peers. Apparently, my timing was a bit off.

Now, as I worry about the next step, which approaches more quickly than I care to think about, I can't help but wonder, will my timing will always be a bit off?