Monday, December 7

Rafael Moneo, architecture that respects the site

José Rafael Moneo Vallés, born in 1937, is a renowned Spanish architect who won the Pritzker Prize in 1996. After graduating in architecture from the Technical University of Madrid (UPM) in 1961, he worked in the Denmark office of Jorn Utzon for two years. He then worked as an assistant at the Academia de Espana until 1965 when he established a private practice in Madrid. He taught architecture at various locations around the world and from 1985 to 1990 was the chairman of Harvard Graduate School of Design, where he is the first Josep Lluís Sert Professor of Architecture. And also in 1997, he became Academic Numerary in the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando in Madrid.

Murcia Town Hall on the Cardenal Belluga Plaza. Learn more about the project at

Unlike many contemporary architects, Moneo does not borrow from the trends associated with European utilitarianism and expressionism. Instead, Moneo produces a softened version of Nordic and Dutch traditions. To this conception he adds an evaluation of his own historic traditions. This range of influences and aims is especially clear in his works of the 1960s. During these years Moneo was one of the centers of interest and excitement in Madrid architecture. "For others … the reality of the building will be sought in its lasting tangible presence, which speaks about the architectural principles behind its construction. That is where I would like to be.” - Rafael Moneo.

Art and Nature Centre of the Beulas Foundation, in Huesca. 

Against a growing trend for ephemeral designs, Moneo works to maintain the competence of architecture. He sees architecture as a vast history in which the architect conscientiously looks for models and resources to transform. Today, as both an architect and as a teacher, Moneo remains one of the most important figures in Spanish architecture. "The site is an expectant reality, always awaiting the event of a prospective construction on it, through which will appear its otherwise hidden attributes.” - Rafael Moneo.

Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, Los Angeles. 

His scholarly work includes numerous articles and lectures published throughout the world. His projects include the Bankinter Building in Madrid, the Museum of Roman Art in Mérida, the L'Illa building in Barcelona, the Pilar and Joan Miró Museum in Palma de Mallorca, the "Kursaal" Auditorium and Congess Center in San Sebastián, the extension of the Prado Museum in Madrid, as well as the Davis Art Museum at Wellesley College, the Houston Museum of Fine Arts, and the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles.

Watch a great special about Moneo, showing him analyzing and explaining the thought process behind all his buildings, at ( 4 videos in Spanish only)

National Museum of Roman Art in Merida

Library of the University of Deusto in Bilbao.

"Kursaal" Auditorium in San Sebastián.

Rhode Island School of Design's museum.

Extension of the Padro Museum, Spain. 

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