Richard Rogers, the influential British architect, has been named the 2007 Laureate of the Pritzker Architecture Prize. The Pritzker, for those of you who may not know what it is, is the highest accolade that a living architect can receive, and has been awarded to such luminaries such as Zaha Hadid (Iraq and UK), Rem Koolhaas (Netherlands), Luis Barragan (Mexico) and Norman Foster (UK).

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Rogers is best known for the Centre Pompidou in Paris, which was designed in conjunction with Pritzker winner Renzo Piano. The building which can only be described as a landmark in modern architecture is shocking in its treatment of its façade. Rather than hiding the mechanical services, the design called for the exposure of all the plumbing, ducting and wiring around the principal façade of the building. The building started a trend for him that continued with the Lloyd’s of London building, Barajas Airport , the extremely controversial but impressive nonetheless Millennium Dome, and more recently Tower 3 of the New York World Trade Center project. All of Rogers’ projects show an interest in exposing the services of the building, providing a feel of the building as a working machine and understanding the required flexibility of the modern user.

While good design is important, and Rogers’ projects have it in spades, here at Inhabitat we care about how design is related to the environment. And this is one field where Rogers doesn’t disappoint. For years Rogers has been an outspoken critic of current building design, promoting a sustainable architecture model. Unlike most architects of his stature, Rogers has held the belief that buildings should be designed with both the flexibility of changing usage throughout the lifetime of a building, and the reduction of the impact that a building has on its surroundings. He has also been an outspoken critic of urban sprawl and promoter of mass transportation, believing that buildings must be incorporated into an agenda that includes transit, affordable housing and higher density neighborhoods.

And lest you think that he is new to the idea of sustainability, the main reasoning behind the radical design for the Centre Pompidou was so that the maintenance and retrofitting of the building would be much easier, leading to a reduction in waste. More recently the Welsh National Assembly in Cardiff cut the energy usage of the Parliament in half. “My view of sustainable architecture is essentially the humanizing of the built environment. Whilst the intelligent development of technology is critical to our quality of life (clean power, nano-technology), immediate improvements can be achieved by opening windows, more imaginative use of landscape, more fluid spaces, use of natural light – resulting in spaces that are both technically more efficient and also more agreeable spaces for people to live and work in, promoting a greater degree of connectivity between people and nature. By fusing social concerns, technological and structural innovation and environmentally responsible design, I’m convinced that a truly modern architecture for the 21st century can be created.” -Richard Rogers-

My first reaction when hearing about the award being given to Richard Rogers was, doesn’t he have one already? For Rogers it seems that he didn’t mind that it had taken so long for him to receive one. In a telephone interview from London, the architect, 73, said he did not see the award as overdue. “It’s not when it comes, it’s the gift that matters,” he said to the International Herald Tribune.

While I’m quite sure that the Pritzker will look quite nice next to his RIBA Gold Medal, the Golden Lion Lifetime Achievement Award and the Stirling Prize amongst all his other accolades, Richard Rogers maintains a grounded realization that he’s not alone in deserving all the fame. As he pointed out, the firm has more than 100 people working on the projects. “You are leading a team,” Rogers said. “I’ve never really understood how architects can think of themselves as an individual.” And to back it up, his firm has a strict salary control policy, ensuring that the highest paid directors don’t earn out of proportion with the rest of the staff, as well as numerous charitable donations of the firms profits.

+Cities for a small planet +Richard Rogers Partnership +Richard Rogers at Wikipedia +Pritzker Price Website +Delivering the Urban Renaissance +International Herald Tribune +Architecture prize has a touch of green to it