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Koolhaas receives 'Nobel of architecture' in Jerusalem
(CNN) -- The Pritzker Architecture Prize was presented to Rem Koolhaas on Monday at a ceremony in a Jerusalem location noted for its spectacular history and design.
The 56-year-old Koolhaas, from the Netherlands, is the first Dutchman to win the award, which is considered "the Nobel of architecture." The Pritzker honors living architects whose collective work has shown unique talent and influence.
As a winner, Koolhaas received $100,000 and a bronze medallion.
"It seems fitting that as we begin a new millennium, the jury should choose an architect that seems so in tune with the future," said Thomas J. Pritzker, president of The Hyatt Foundation and son of Jay A. Pritzker, who created the honor in 1979.
According to the Pritzker Web site, "the prize takes its name from the Pritzker family, whose international business interests are headquartered in Chicago. They have long been known for their support of educational, religious, social welfare, scientific, medical and cultural activities."
The winner is picked each year by a jury of design and architecture experts assembled by the foundation. Koolhaas' work over the past 20 years, according to the Pritzker jury, has shown a flair for unconventional and new-millennium design.
'Delirious New York'
Among Koolhaas' many projects are the Educatorium at Utrecht University in the Netherlands, the Grand Palais in Lille, France, and a "three-story" home for a wheelchair-bound man in Bordeaux, France.
The Bordeaux house, which Time magazine named the best design of 1998, features a glass room that acts as an elevator between the top and bottom living quarters.
Koolhaas, who has been a professor at Harvard University since 1995, has also written books on architecture -- most notably, 1978's "Delirious New York," which discusses patterns of urban growth. Critics hailed the book as a must-read on the subject of modern architecture and society.
In 1994, Koolhaas, in colaboration with Canadian graphic designer Bruce Mau, published "S, M, L, XL," which combines photos, plans, fiction, cartoons and essays with works produced by Koolhaas' Office for Metropolitan Architecture, a company the architect helped found in London in 1975.
But it's his innovative design that has captured attention over the years.
"(Koolhaas) has demonstrated many times over his ability and creative talent to confront seemingly insoluble or constrictive problems with brilliant and original solutions," according to a statement from the Hyatt Foundation.
The ceremony was at the Jerusalem Archaeological Park, where the world's largest arch -- once an entrance to the Temple Mount -- stood 2,000 years ago.
The hilltop -- home to the Dome of the Rock mosque, whose huge gold dome is one of Jerusalem's most recognizable landmarks -- is known to Jews as the Temple Mount for the biblical temples that once stood there.
The Western Wall, the Jewish Temple's last remnants, is Judaism's holiest shrine, while the al-Aqsa Mosque is Islam's third-holiest site.
Pritzker said the location for the ceremony matched the foundation's decision to mix history with Koolhaas' forward-thinking designs.
"(The arch) was probably one of the most elaborate and complex structures in the known world 2000 years ago," Pritzker said. "It stands as a physical connection between our times and a period of history that is fundamental to much of western civilization."
Ceremony attendees saw a video presentation of a computer simulation showing how that part of Jerusalem looked 2000 years ago.
Rem Koolhaas wins architecture's top award
Great Buildings Online
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