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Driehaus architecture prize awarded

| Thursday, April 3, 2014

On Saturday, Notre Dame presented Italian architect Pier Carlo Bontempi with the 2014 Richard H. Driehaus Prize, the most significant recognition for classicism in the contemporary environment, according to the Notre Dame website.
Michael Lykoudis, the Francis and Kathleen Rooney Dean of the Notre Dame School of Architecture, said the prize was started by Richard Driehaus 12 years ago with the goal of furthering the use of tradition in the modern world.
“The work that [Bontempi] has done has been all about focusing on the local character,” Lykoudis said. “He builds with consistent principles while also adapting those principles to the climate and geology, including aspects in the work that tie back to its location.”
According to Notre Dame’s website, Bontempi, who originates from Fronovo di Taro, Parma, Italy, studied architecture at the University of Florence and has taught architecture at universities across America and Europe. He is most noted for his block recovery plan in Parma’s historic center, the Place de Toscane and the “Quartier du Lac” resort near Paris.
“Bontempi is unique in that he doesn’t see architecture as an art that calls attention to an architect, but to the building’s central place,” Lykoudis said, “While there is a great deal of beauty in his work, he is very modest in creating quality work.”
According to Lykoudis, Driehaus believed the $200,000 award and bronze statue would act as sufficient incentive to fuel the practice of classicalism and traditionalism with an emphasis on sustainability in modern architecture.
Lykoudis said the Driehaus Prize allows Notre Dame to engage in the practice of advancing the use of tradition in the modern world while Notre Dame’s national recognition as a top university allows the prize to grow in stature.
According to Notre Dame’s website, recipients of the Driehaus Prize are distinguished architects who are skilled in the areas of traditional or classical architecture, contribute positively to society and whose work focuses on sustainability and innovation.
Each year, a panel of judges evaluates the work of various architects and comes to a consensus on the winner.
The 2014 panel members included Adele Chatfield-Taylor, president of the American Academy in Rome, Robert Davis, developer and founder of Seaside, Fla,, Paul Goldberger, a contributing writer for Vanity Fair and Witold Rybczynski, award winning architecture critic and professor. The panel also included Léon Krier and Demetri Porphyrios, past winners of the Driehaus Prize.
Bontempi possesses all of the qualities the panel values, Lykoudis said.
According to the jury citation, Krier said “the serenity and robustness, elegance and economy of [Bontempi’s] considerable built work demonstrate the falsity of the economic, philosophic, technical, artistic argument as excuses for the catastrophic performance of the common contemporary building industry.”

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