The award will be officially presented early in 2017, but the announcement was made on September 29: the winner of the 2017 Royal Gold Medal is Paulo Mendes da Rocha. The long list of awards presented to the Brazilian architect over the course of his career now includes this prestigious prize; the only Brazilian architect to win it in the past was Oscar Niemeyer. 2006 Pritzker Prize winner Paulo Mendes da Rocha was awarded a Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement in May at the 15th International Architecture Show of the Biennale di Venezia, REPORTING FROM THE FRONT, curated by Alejandro Aravena; recently (on September 13) he was also awarded the Praemium Imperiale International Arts Award for Architecture.
The Royal Gold Medal is awarded to an architect or group of architects with a "direct or indirect impact on the progress of architecture". Jane Duncan, president of RIBA and chair of the selection committee, noted that Paulo Mendes da Rocha is highly unusual, for the Brazilian architect is famous all over the world, “a true living legend in architecture” as Duncan calls him, but, except for the Brazilian Pavilion at Expo '70 (Osaka, Japan) and the National Coach Museum of Portugal (Lisbon, 2015), almost all his most important buildings are in Brazil.
In addition to Niemeyer, illustrious winners of the Royal Gold Medal and predecessors of Paulo Mendes da Rocha include: Frank Lloyd Wright (1941) and Sir George Gilbert Scott (1859), and, more recently: Frank Gehry (2000), Norman Foster (1983) and, last year, Zaha Hadid (2016).
Images courtesy of RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects)