Moneo, Rafael

Moneo, Rafael
b. 1937, Tudela (Zaragoza)
   Moneo began his career working under two great architects, Sáenz de Oiza in Madrid and Jorn Utzon in Denmark. He won a scholarship from the Spanish Academy in Rome in 1963 and remained there for the next two years, a period which was to have a decisive influence on his formation. On returning to Spain he began teaching architecture in Madrid, subsequently (1970–80) joining the staff of the Barcelona School of Architecture. He returned to Madrid in 1980 as lecturer in composition, a post which he held until 1985 when he became Dean of the prestigious Graduate School of Design at Harvard, where he stayed until 1990. The first of his works to attract international attention was the Museum of Archaeology at Mérida (1986). The most important aspect of this design was the harmonious relationship he achieved with the surrounding Roman ruins. An equally good modern interpretation of the ancient world is his work on the headquarters of the Col·legi d'Arquitectes at Tarragona (1983–92), also constructed on top of ancient remains. The heritage of the past is integrated smoothly, but at the same time respectfully, into modern daily life. The refurbishment of the Villahermoso Palace in Madrid to house the Thyssen collection (1991) is a masterpiece of design, in which the distribution of space is handled with great effectiveness and simplicity (see also Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum). The Joan Miró Museum in Palma de Mallorca (1992) is a bold composition, laid out in the shape of a star, as a sort of homage to the painter. Seville Airport (1991) represents a very personal contribution to the built environment, as does the transformation of the Atocha railway station in Madrid (1992), a striking design of great simplicity. The head office of the La Previsión Company in Seville (1988) is an original interpretation of the fabric of the city. In the 1990s he constructed a huge edifice on the Avinguda Diagonal in Barcelona, La Illa, a horizontal skyscraper which despite its size is well adapted to the site. In 1996 he designed the new Conference Centre and Concert Hall, the Kursaal, in San Sebastián.
   Moneo's tenure of the Deanship in Harvard consolidated his international reputation, and he won commissions for, among other distinguished buildings, the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, Texas. In 1996 he became the first Spaniard to win the Pritzker Prize, the most prestigious international award for achievement in architecture.
   See also: architects; architecture

Encyclopedia of contemporary Spanish culture. 2013.

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