In celebration of the annual Pritzker Architecture Prize this year’s awards ceremony and honors is took place at the United Nations headquarters in New York, on Monday, April 4. This prestigious prize celebrates a living architect or architects whose built work demonstrates a combination of those qualities of talent, vision, and commitment, which has produced consistent and significant contributions to humanity and the built environment through the art of architecture. Following the award ceremony, a dialogue on April 5 will bring together several Pritzker laureates to discuss how architects can contribute to key challenges of the 21st Century.

The Sustainable Development Goals Fund, co-organizer of the panel discussion as part of a new partnership with the Pritzker Prize, looks to architects to promote and understand the role of architecture in the achievement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This Agenda and the  recently outlined Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) approved by world leaders during the last UN General Assembly will work to guide development efforts across the globe for the next 15 years. It is envisioned that key sectors like architecture can also contribute to this integrated agenda, in which economic inclusion, social development and environmental protection converge in a unique and universal roadmap for global action.

As potential champions for the linkage between the role that architecture can play in building cities that are more sustainable and livable, the Pritzker Prize and the SDG Fund will give voice and attention for architects to discuss some of the pressing issues facing the field at the UN Headquarters in New York City.  This kick-off event on April 5th will lay the groundwork for future events, highlighting the synergies between both organizations.

This year, Alejandro Aravena of Chile has been selected as the 2016 Pritzker Architecture Prize Laureate for his built work “that gives economic opportunity to the less privileged, mitigates the effects of natural disasters, reduces energy consumption, and provides welcoming public space. Innovative and inspiring, he shows how architecture at its best can improve people’s lives”, said Tom Pritzker, Chairman and President of The Hyatt Foundation. Aravena based in Santiago, Chile becomes the 41st laureate of the Pritzker Prize, the first Pritzker Laureate from Chile, and the fourth from Latin America.

The award which is known internationally as architecture’s highest honor is selected by a distinguished jury from around the world. Each award ceremony is held annually at a culturally significant venue, in this case the UN has particular significance as one of its lead designers was the 1988 Pritzker Prize Laureate, Oscar Niemeyer.

This year’s unique ceremony and event will feature a public dialogue on Challenges Ahead for the Built Environment with Pritzker Prize laureates, including: Alejandro Aravena, Glenn Murcutt, Renzo Piano, Richard Rogers, Wang Shu, Thom Mayne, Richard Meier, and Christian de Portzamparc. Cathleen McGuigan, Editor-in-Chief of Architectural Record magazine, will moderate the conversation to examine the role of architecture in contemporary society and how architecture can be a real force in light of the many crucial environmental and societal issues ahead.  

“It is increasingly evident that more stakeholders will be required to meet the sustainability challenges of the future. At the same time, it is inspiring to explore how new sectors such as architecture can play a role by incorporating key dimensions of sustainable development, such as social justice and economic inclusion in their plans,” said Paloma Duran, Director of the Sustainable Development Goals Fund. “For example, how we can ensure access for all to support adequate, safe and affordable housing and design spaces that enrich and promote social equality.” These and other questions will be the examined and topics of the open dialogue and will guide future action at the SDG Fund.