28 January, 2009
Steven Holl is a professor in Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, where he teaches a course on the Architectonics of Music. 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.
Holl has worked in the United States, Europe and in the Far East, especially Japan. Among his most celebrated projects, which stand out for 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).
“I believe the relationship of all the arts becomes especially patent in architecture”
He currently runs two studios, in New York and Beijing, where he is working on the ‘Linked Hybrid’ project occupying a site of 220,000 m 2 in the vicinity of the Forbidden City.
Holl gave 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”.
Vanguard presence and social mission
The 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”.
In the award certificate, Hall’s work is praised for its “personal language and recognizable identity”, a language that “has consistently remained apart from external, formal and stylistic compromise”. His projects stand out for their variety, with commissions built or under way in everything from “private houses to major urban projects round the world”.
Finally, the jury singled out “the formal, spatial and functional processes of his personal artistic vision” and the “inspired creativity” that informs the U.S. architect’s current work. It also reserved special mention for Holl’s efforts “to promote social and cultural fundamentals without sacrificing his continual presence in the architectural vanguard”.
The jury in this inaugural edition of the Frontiers of Knowledge Awards, Arts category, was chaired by classical music critic Reinhard Brembeck, and formed by composers Helmut Lachenmann and Luis de Pablo; architects Antón García-Abril and Ramón Sanabria; Armin Köhler, director of the Donaueschingen Music Festival; art critic Richard Whitehouse; and Wulf Weinmann, managing director of German music label NEOS, acting as secretary.