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London Center for Music. Courtesy of Diller Scofidio + Renfro.
London Center for Music. Courtesy of Diller Scofidio + Renfro.

Elizabeth Diller and Ricardo Scofidio Awarded 2019 Royal Academy Architecture Prize

The Royal Academy of Arts in London announced that Elizabeth Diller and Ricardo Scofidio, founders of the New York City–based firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro, have been awarded the 2019 Royal Academy Architecture Prize, which recognizes inspiring and enduring contributions to the culture of architecture. The duo’s studio is known for projects ranging from the Broad in Los Angles to the Shed in Manhattan, a new arts center opening in April. Charles Renfro, who joined the firm in 1997, was named partner in 2004, and Benjamin Gilmartin, who joined the firm in 2004, was named partner in 2015.

“This wonderful recognition by the Royal Academy of Arts has prompted us to reflect on the trajectory of our practice,” Diller and Scofidio said in a statement. “We started as dissidents, challenging architecture as a self-contained discipline and probing its intersections with other cultural forms using a large toolkit of media. A combination of naiveté and determination allowed us to realize some challenging projects over time but it was not until our collaboration expanded to include new partners and a growing staff that we were truly able to push architecture’s untapped agency and convert provocations into meaningful action in cities and institutions.”

Chaired by Alan Stanton, cofounder of Stanton Williams, the jury comprised Ricky Burdett, director of LSE Cities; Louisa Hutton, cofounder of Sauerbruch Hutton; Lesley Lokko, head of the Graduate School of Architecture at the University of Johannesburg; and broadcaster Kirsty Wark. Artist Phyllida Barlow will join them in selecting the winner of the Royal Academy Dorfman Award, which is given to an international architect whose work represents the “future of architecture” during the Royal Academy Architecture Awards Week from May 13 to May 17.

Mexican architect Fernanda Canales; Alice Casey and Cian Deegan, founders of the Irish practice TAKA; Mariam Kamara, founder of Niger-based practice Atelier Masomi; and Boonserm Premthada, founder of the Thai practice Bangkok Project Studio, were all shortlisted for the prize.

Commenting on the work of Diller and Scofidio, Stanton said: “Their extraordinary architectural projects which are founded on their early experimental work in the visual and performance arts resonate with our ethos here at the Royal Academy, formed as it is by both artists and architects.” 

Diller and Scofidio are only the second recipients of the annual prize, which is supported by the Dorfman Foundation. The inaugural winner was Japanese architect Itsuko Hasegawa.