Wang Shu of Amateur Architecture Studio became the first Chinese architect to win the Pritzker Prize for Architecture today. Unlike the majority of previous Pritzker winners, whose names often come attached to splashy international museums, monuments, and luxury hotels, Wang Shu is far less known. "The question of the proper relation of present to past is particularly timely," wrote the jury in its citation, "for the recent process of urbanization in China invites debate as to whether architecture should be anchored in tradition or should look only toward the future. As with any great architecture, Wang Shu´s work is able to transcend that debate, producing an architecture that is timeless, deeply rooted in its context and yet universal."
Wang Shu runs Amateur Architecture Studio in Hangzhou, China, with his wife, the architect Lu Wenyu, and counts the fantastic Ningbo History Museum amongst his most distinctive works. Made largely of salvaged stones and terra cotta tiles, the boxy castle of a building is constructed of the detritus of other structure. The choice of Wang Shu may forecast a greater embrace of Asian architects by the Pritzker jury, which now includes former winner Zaha Hadid and U.S. Supreme Court justice Stephen Breyer, considering that the Japanese architects Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa won in 2010. IM Pei, who was born in China, won the prize in 1983, though he has done much of his best work in America and became a U.S. citizen in 1954.