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Architect James Stirling winner of Pritzker Price | Projects in Berlin

Interaction between original neo-Baroque building and Stirling's extension in post-Modern style.

3rd Pritzker Prize Winner

The third Pritzker Prize was awarded in 1981 to 54-year-old British architect James Stirling (April 22, 1926 - June 25, 1992). The ceremony was held at the National Building Museum in Washington D.C. 

By the time he won the Prize he was already one of the most important representatives of modern and early post-modern architecture. Although he was more defined by critics as a postmodern architect, Stirling defended his modern approach saying he cared more about space than surface. 

He had already designed and built the London flats at Ham Common, the Engineering Building at Leicester University in London and the History Faculty Library at Cambridge University, among others.

Stirling's architecture was especially appreciated in West Germany. A few years after he was awarded the Pritzker Prize he designed, with his partner (former apprentice)  Michael Wilford, the Neue Staatsgalerie in Stuttgart (1983) and the Wissenschaftszentrum (Social Science Research Center) in Berlin (1988).

During the decade after winning the Pritzker Prize for Architecture and before his sudden death, James Stirling's architecture was clearly post-modern and had an important urban approach as well, as in the Social Science Research Center in Berlin.

Post-modernism architecture, where classical characteristics of Greek and roman architecture were reinterpreted, was, at one time, the way of tracing historical roots with present expressions. Now, in many cases, it is seen as superficial architecture, a collage of imitations.

For the Pritzker Prize jury citation this was said:

".. 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." -The Pritzker Architecture Prize Jury Citation, 1981.

Building in Berlin

Social Science Research Center


The Center designed by James Stirling and Michael Wilford was the largest non-residential complex in the IBA program (International Bauausstellung Programm). It was finished in 1988 as an extension to the building by August Busse from 1894, the former Imperial Insurance Office. The original building was the only construction in this area to survive the Second World War. 
The extension design of Stirling gives the complex a more playful atmosphere, and as he wanted, it is a bricollage (building collage) of neo-Baroque and post-modern design. 

  

The combination of architectures and the atmosphere that the architect wanted to create is clear from the main courtyard in the center of the complex. It is evident that Stirling's architecture is a collage of ideas including: modern philosophies of space and geometry; an US American post modern combination of natural and artificial materials and colors; and classical typologies like hexagonal campanile, amphitheater, portico or stoa, and basilica. 



Other post modern elements are pointed arcs and steel pergolas that support glass roofs and appear adjacent to main volumes.
The facades include sandstone, terracotta and blue finishes, and probably the most distinctive elements are the window openings with terracotta hoods.

     



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