Elizabeth Diller and Ricardo Scofidio scoop 2019 Royal Academy Architecture Prize

2 Blur Building Aerial Photo
Elizabeth Diller and Ricardo Scofidio have been announced joined winners of the 2019 Royal Academy of Arts Architecture Prize. Pictured here, DS+R’s Blur Building from 2002.
(Image credit: Beat Widmer)

Celebrated New York architecture duo Elizabeth Diller and Ricardo Scofidio of Diller Scofidio + Renfro have just been revealed as the 2019 Royal Academy Architecture Prize winners. The annual gong, which is given out to architects for their ‘inspiring and enduring contribution to the culture of architecture', is now on its second year, following last year's honouring of Japanese architect Itsuko Hasegawa.

Scofidio and Diller's work, in many ways, captures the architectural zeitgeist. It can be iconic and eye-catching, featuring dramatic forms and material experimentation. But it can also be subtle, with a soft dynamism, ever-changing and reaching out to connect with different types of practices, disciplines and strands of local and global culture.

Elizabeth Diller and Ricardo Scofidio have worked together since 1981. The pair has been prolific and now lead Diller Scofidio and Renfro in New York, together with partners Charles Renfro and Benjamin Gilmartin.

Elizabeth Diller and Ricardo Scofidio have worked together since 1981. The pair has been prolific and now lead Diller Scofidio and Renfro in New York, together with partners Charles Renfro and Benjamin Gilmartin.

(Image credit: Geordie Wood)

The pair has worked as a team since the 1980s and has built an internationally acclaimed firm that operates with a strong presence in the cultural realm, in the arts – visual and performance – in a way that few architecture practices do. DS+R’s built works include the Blur Building, a temporary structure in Switzerland for the 2002 Expo and the Broad museum in Los Angeles (2015). Above all they champion interdisciplinarity and bridge building, design and urban culture, all key discussion points in the contemporary architecture field.

‘At the Royal Academy we view architecture as a social art form, that is integral to our lives and ever present’, says Kate Goodwin, head of architecture and Heinz curator at the Royal Academy of Arts. ‘We therefore think about architecture broadly and aim to contextualise its relevance within society and culture, often acting as translators between the profession and the public. I believe in expanding the spatial literacy of us all so we can understand the world we inhabit and work towards shaping a better one.’

The winners were selected by a jury of experts including director of LSE cities Ricky Burdett, Louisa Hutton RA co-founder of Sauerbruch Hutton, Lesley Lokko head of the graduate school of architecture at the University of Johannesburg and broadcaster Kirsty Wark; and chaired by Royal Academician and co-founder of Stanton Williams Alan Stanton. 

Today, the London institution also announced its highly anticipated list of finalists for the Royal Academy Dorfman Award for global talent and emerging architects. These include Fernanda Canales (Mexico), Alice Casey and Cian Deegan, TAKA (Ireland), Mariam Kamara, Atelier Masomi (Niger) and Boonserm Premthada, Bangkok Project Studio (Thailand). The winner in this category will be decided in front of a live jury during Architecture Awards Week (13-19 May 2019).

Taka house

House 2 in Dublin, Ireland by Taka Architects.

(Image credit: Alice Clancy)

Bangkok Project Studio Elephant World

Elephant World Observation Tower in Surin, Thailand, by Bangkok Project Studio.

(Image credit: Bangkok Project Studio)

Fernanda Canales Terreno House Mexico

Terreno House in Mexico by Fernanda Canales

(Image credit: Geordie Wood)

Atelier Massomi Religious Secular Complex Dandaji

Religious Secular Complex in Dandaji, Niger, by Atelier Massomi.

(Image credit: James Wang)


For more information visit the website of the Royal Academy of Arts

Ellie Stathaki is the Architecture & Environment Director at Wallpaper*. She trained as an architect at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece and studied architectural history at the Bartlett in London. Now an established journalist, she has been a member of the Wallpaper* team since 2006, visiting buildings across the globe and interviewing leading architects such as Tadao Ando and Rem Koolhaas. Ellie has also taken part in judging panels, moderated events, curated shows and contributed in books, such as The Contemporary House (Thames & Hudson, 2018), Glenn Sestig Architecture Diary (2020) and House London (2022).