James Stirling

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James Stirling, 1926-1992, of Great Britain was one of that country's best-known architects particularly since his 1963 project at Leicester University, the engineering building. Born in Glasgow, Scotland, he took his architecture degree at Liverpool University, but set up his practice in London.

In addition to the Leicester project already mentioned, his other major works at the time he was awarded the Pritzker Prize included a training center for Olivetti in Hasselemere; a History Building for Cambridge University; an expansion of Rice University in Texas, and numerous low cost housing projects, and residences. Since 1981, he has completed a major social sciences center in Berlin; a Performing Arts Center for Cornell University; and such major museum projects as the Clore Gallery expansion for the Tate Gallery in London; the Arthur M. Sackler Museum, an addition to Harvard's Fogg Museum; and the Staatsgalerie in Stuttgart, Germany. 

In an article written in 1979 for Contemporary Architects, Stirling said, "I believe that the shapes of a building should indicate—perhaps display—the usage and way of life of its occupants, and it is therefore likely to be rich and varied in appearance, and its expression is unlikely to be simple...in a building we did at Oxford some years ago, it was intended that you could recognize the historic elements of courtyard, entrance gate towers, cloisters; also a central object replacing the traditional fountain or statue of the college founder. In this way we hoped that students and public would not be disassociated from their cultural past. The particular way in which functional-symbolic elements are put together may be the "art" in the architecture." 

..."If the expression of functional-symbolic forms and familiar elements is foremost, the expression of structure will be secondary, and if structure shows, it is not in my opinion, the engineering which counts, but the way in which the building is put together that is important." 

Udo Kulterman, writing in the same publication, said "Stirling's concept of contemporary architecture is concerned with the humanization of the environment. Humanistic considerations dominate all technological, economic and aesthetic preconceived ideas and ideologies. Architecture has to re-establish its own criteria for evaluation; for Stirling this obviously means creating in harmony with common sense, tradition, the existing environment, and a concern for people." 

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Citation from the Pritzker Jury 
We honor James Stirling—a prodigy for so many years—as a leader of the great transition from the Modern Movement to the architecture of the New—an architecture that once more has recognized historical roots, once more has close connections with the buildings surrounding it, once more can be called a new tradition. 

Originality within this tradition is Stirling's distinction: in the old "modern times," 45 degree angles in plan and section; today, startling juxtapositions and transpositions of clearly classical and 19th century references.  In three countries—England, Germany, and the United States—he is influencing the development of architecture through the quality of his work. 

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James Stirling's Acceptance Speech
One of the continuities in the history of Architecture is that every now and again a new patron and benefactor appears, and on behalf of my profession, here and abroad, I would saluteJayPritzker—a most generous friend to Architects. 

Somehow I think it might have been easier for Philip Johnson who, on the first occasion of the Prize giving, talked about the importance of the new Prize to the Profession, and maybe easier for Luis Barragan, reviewing a lifetime's work. Perhaps it's more difficult for me—at any rate I feel it that way. I can't talk about the Prize as a new event and I hope I'm not at the end of my work, though I guess I'm somewhere past the midway. 

It's always been difficult for me to see myself. I work very intuitively, I'm not even sure whether I'm an English Architect, a European or an International Architect. It is embarrassing to talk about myself and therefore I will quote from a recent article written by Robert Maxwell especially about this 3rd Pritzker award. Maxwell was a fellow student at Liverpool School of Architecture in the 1940's and is now Professor of Architecture at London University: 
"In England in particular there is a peculiar breath of scandal attaching to the pursuit of architecture as Art. Criticism of architecture in the public mind is broadly associated with sociological or material failure, and these spectres haunt the practice of architecture. Yet when such faults occur they are not thought to be really scandalous except when associated with high architectural aspirations." 

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