BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Awards

Arts 1st Edition (2008)


Steven Holl

Galardonado Artes 2008

The BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in the Arts category goes to architect Steven Holl for the progressive position of his work in more than 30 years of professional practice, in its rigorous discipline and consistency. The jury also cites the humanistic values that Holl has preserved in his work, which weds a vanguard vocation with a keen concern for social and environmental fundamentals.

Known as the most European of American architects for his humanistic approach to architectural design, Steven Holl (United States, 1947) has worked in North America, Europe and Asia, especially Japan. His projects stand out for their variety, with commissions built or under way in everything from private homes to major urban projects round the world.

Among his most celebrated projects, which coincide in their respect for the building’s historical and cultural context, are the Simmons Hall students’ residence at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas, the Chapel of St. Ignatius in Seattle University and his addition to the Cranbrook Institute of Science in Michigan (all in the United States), the Kiasma Contemporary Art Museum in Helsinki (Finland) and the Makuhari residential complex (Japan). He is currently working on the Linked Hybrid project occupying a site of 220,000 m2 in the vicinity of Beijing’s Forbidden City.

The award jury cited “the progressive position of the work of Steven Holl in more than 30 years of professional practice, in its rigorous discipline and consistency”, along with “the international impact of his work, his visibility in distinct cultural forums and his presence in prestigious academic circles”.

Promoting social and cultural fundamentals

In the award certificate, Holl’s work is praised for its personal language and recognizable identity, a language that the architect has consistently kept apart from external, formal and stylistic compromise. Likewise for the formal, spatial and functional processes of his personal artistic vision and the inspired creativity that informs his current projects. The jury also reserves a special mention for his efforts to promote social and cultural fundamentals without sacrificing his continual presence in the architectural vanguard.

Holl gives the following insight into his work: “I believe the relationship of all the arts becomes especially patent in architecture, and it is in architecture that it finds its fullest expression. I move in the same circles as painters and video artists and feel I am well acquainted with other arts”.

Steven Holl is a professor in Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture. He graduated in architecture from the University of Washington in Seattle before completing his studies in Rome and at the Architectural Association in London. He then settled in New York, and began making a name for himself with his work on family housing and his small- and large-scale experimental designs. He currently runs two studios, in New York and Beijing.


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