Life and career
He graduated in architecture in 1955, at the former School of Fine Arts fromthe University of Porto, the current FAUP - Faculdade de Arquitectura da Universidade do Porto. He completed his first built work (four houses in Matosinhos) even before ending his studies in 1954, the same year that he first opened his private practice in Porto. Siza Vieira taught at the school from 1966 to 1969, returning in 1976. In addition to his teaching there, he has been a visitingprofessor at the Graduate School of Design, Harvard University; the University of Pennsylvania; Los Andes University of Bogota; and the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne.
Along with Fernando Távora, he is one of the references of the Porto School of Architecture where both were teachers. Both architects worked together between 1955 and 1958. Another architect he has collaborated withis Eduardo Souto de Moura, e.g. on Portugal’s flagship pavilions at Expo 98 in Lisbon and Expo 2000 in Hannover, as well as on the Serpentine Pavillon 2005. Siza's work is often described as "poetic modernism"; he himself has contributed to publications on Luis Barragán.
Most of his best known works are located in his hometown Porto: the Boa Nova Tea House (1963), the Faculty of Architecture (1987–93),and the Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art (1997). Since the mid-1970s, Siza has been involved in numerous designs for public housing and universities. Most recently, he started coordinating the rehabilitation of the monuments and architectonic heritage of Cidade Velha (Old Village) in Santiago, an island of Cape Verde.
In1987, the dean of Harvard Graduate School of Design, the Spanish architect José Rafael Moneo, organized the first show of Siza’s work in the United States. In 1992, he was awarded with the renowned Pritzker Prize for the renovation project that he coordinated in the Chiado area of Lisbon, a historic commercial sector that was all but completely destroyed by fire in August 1988.
Other prizesinclude: The Golden Medal of The Superior Counsil of Arquitecture of the College of Architects of Madrid in 1988; Mies van der Rohe Award for European Architecture, the Prince of Wales Prize in Urban Design from Harvard University, and the Alvar Aalto Medal in 1988; Portugal's National Prize of Architecture 1993; the Arnold W. Brunner Memorial Prize by the American Academy of Arts and Letters andthe Praemium Imperiale in 1998, the Wolf Prize in Arts in 2001, the Urbanism Special Grand Prize of France 2005.
Siza's Iberê Camargo Foundation in Porto Alegre, his first project built in Brazilian territory, was honoured by the Venice Architecture Biennale with the Golden Lion award in 2002. More recently he was awarded the RIBA's 2009 Royal Gold Medallist.
Every design," saysSiza, "is a rigorous attempt to capture a concrete moment of a transitory image in all its nuances. The extent to which this transitory quality is captured, is reflected in the designs: the more precise they are, the more vulnerable."
While working on a sizable office building design for Porto, Siza discounted any possibility of blending the new building by imitating its surroundings. The area wastoo important since it was between the historic center of the city and a bridge that has great significance because it was built by Eiffel in 1866. He explained, "We have gone beyond the stage whereby unity of language was believed to be the universal solution for architectural problems. Recognizing that complexity is the nature of the city, transformational movements take on very different...