Supreme Court Justice Breyer to Judge Pritzker?

- September 15, 2011

"Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer joins the jury"

The Pritzker Prize, architecture's top honor, established in 1979, has just gained a “real” judge in the person of United States Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer. Justice Breyer will join the distinguished jury alongside architect Zaha Hadid, who won the prize in 2004, Pritzker officials announced this morning. In 2004, Iraqi-born Hadid was the first woman to ever be awarded architecture's top honor and now the prestigious Pritzker jury now has its first Supreme “judge."

This is not as unlikely as it might seem. Breyer has an avid interest in contemporary architecture, and in courthouse design in particular; he wrote the forward for the 2006 book Celebrating the Courthouse: A Guide for Architects, Their Clients, and the Public. Still, he's a surprising choice. Typically, Pritzker jurors have been practicing architects (often Pritzker laureates, such as Hadid), critics or academics. It'll be fascinating to see how his presence changes the tenor of Pritzker deliberations or even the choice of winners. I wonder if there will be a minority opinion if the judges do not come to a unanimous decision in the spring of 2012 (the usual time of year the award is given). I look forward to next year’s announcement.

This year's winner of the Pritzker Prize is the Portuguese architect Eduardo Souto de Moura.