Shigeru Ban is this year's winner of the prestigious Pritzker Architecture Prize, but he didn't win for one of his museums, private residences, or corporate headquarters. He won because of his work designing disaster relief shelters in such far-flung locales as Rwanda, Turkey, India, China, Haiti, and Japan.
Ban’s humanitarian focus began in the aftermath of the Rwandan civil war in 1994, when his proposal to use low-cost, easy-to-use paper tube shelters for refugees quickly made his name as an architect committed to improving the lot of the world’s dispossessed. His socially conscious designs — distinguished by their clean modernist aesthetic, Japanese carpentry, and environmentally friendly materials — have been a groundbreaking model of innovation in the world of emergency relief.
“His buildings provide shelter, community centers, and spiritual places for those who have suffered tremendous loss and destruction,” the Pritzker jury said in its citation. “When tragedy strikes, he is often there from the beginning.”