Japanese architects Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa have been awarded the 2010 Pritzker Prize, their profession's most prestigious award. SANAA's buildings, located in Japan, the U.S. and Europe, are known for a reticent, ethereal and nearly weightless quality, often
pairing pure-white interiors with broad expanses of glass.
The Tokyo-based architects will share this year's US $100,000 Pritzker Architecture Prize, which has been given by the Hyatt Foundation in Chicago since 1979 for "significant contributions to humanity and the built environment through the art of architecture."
Sejima, 53, is the second woman to win the prize and Nishizawa, 44, is the youngest ever. The two are principals of Tokyo's SANAA firm. The initials stand for Sejima and Nishizawa and Associates.
In its announcement on Sunday, the Pritzker jury praised the architects for a body of work "that is simultaneously delicate and powerful, precise and fluid, ingenious but not overly or overtly clever."
The duo's work includes the 2007 New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York, which looks like a stack of giant boxes sheathed in an aluminum mesh that reflects the building's Lower Manhattan neighbourhood. Inside, the mostly windowless galleries are spartan, with concrete floors and fluorescent lighting.
A satellite branch of the Louvre in Lens, northern France, which SANAA designed in conjunction with New York-based Imrey Culbert architects, will open in 2012.
Sejima and Nishizawa will receive the Pritzker award in a May 17 ceremony on Ellis Island in the New York harbor.