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Tuesday, May 21, 2024
The Observer

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Notre Dame awards world’s largest architectural prize to Peter Pennoyer

American architect Peter Pennoyer has been named the 2024 winner of the Richard H. Driehaus Prize at the University of Notre Dame. This prize is awarded annually to a living architect that has been a major contributor to classical architecture and urbanism in contemporary society. 

“[Pennoyer] has shown an amazing inventiveness within the classical language,” Michael Lykoudis, professor and former dean of the Notre Dame School of Architecture, said. “The classical language of architecture is not just simply Greco-Roman classicism, but it alludes to the shared building traditions of the world.” 

Lykoudis said the Driehaus Prize “represents an effort to explain, celebrate and recognize why architecture matters to the world.” The idea for the prize started with discussions between Lykoudis and Driehaus, American businessman and philanthropist, in 2002. The following year, the first prize was awarded to Léon Krier of Luxembourg. Prize winners receive $200,000, making it the largest global architectural prize given annually, Lykoudis said. 

“When we talk about sustainability, when we talk about our identities, as humans belonging to cultures, it is the architecture and character of the cities which make up those cultures,” he said. “What the Driehaus prize does more than any other prize is represent how those cultures are recognized through their traditions.”

According to Lykoudis, who served on this year’s jury, Pennoyer has worked significantly to make architectural classicism relevant again in both the public and private realm.

“He’s done buildings for individual residences, but he’s also done apartment buildings, mid-rise buildings in New York City,” Lykoudis said. “We make sure the architect we select has given a contribution to the public realm — those streets, squares, blocks and the identity of cities, either by working within or helping create identities for places that have lost [them].” 

In addition to considering public-facing contributions, Lykoudis said the jury, made up of renowned architects from around the world, also pays attention to current events.

“We try to make a decision that would offer some possibilities about how to resolve some of the issues that are coming up. In the past, we’ve had issues of climate change, globalization or localization,” he said.

In addition to the cash prize, Pennoyer will be awarded with a bronze model of the Choragic Monument of Lysicrates at a ceremony in Chicago.

“[The ceremony] is a gathering of friends of the [School of Architecture], friends of the laureates, friends of architecture from all professional walks of life,” Lykoudis said. 

Architecture students at Notre Dame have the opportunity to attend this event as well. 

“Our students get to rub elbows and meet with people from all over the world … In fact, all continents are represented by our laureates and by the people who are invited to come,” Lykoudis said. “They get to enter into a professional event and put their best foot forward. Sometimes, they get jobs out of it.”