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Souto de Moura wins major architecture prize

Portuguese architect Eduardo Souto de Moura, known for designing buildings that blend modernism and tradition, is the 2011 winner of the Pritzker Architecture Prize.

Souto de Moura, 58, joined the likes of Tadao Ando, Frank Gehry, Ieoh Ming Pei and Renzo Piano in receiving the award dubbed architecture’s Nobel Prize.

The jury, which announced the honor on Monday, praised his buildings for their “unique ability to convey seemingly conflicting characteristics — power and modesty, bravado and subtlety, bold public authority and a sense of intimacy — at the same time.”

The stadium he designed in Braga, Portugal — the site of the 2004 European soccer championships — gained much acclaim. One side ends with a 100-foot (30-meter) high granite face at the foot of a mountain, a coexistence between natural and artificial that has characterized Souto de Moura’s work.

“It was a drama to break down the mountain and make concrete from the stone,” he has said about the structure.

The Pritzker Prize jury hailed the stadium as “muscular, monumental and very much at home within its powerful landscape.”

Nearly a million and a half cubic yards (1.1 million cubic meters) of granite were blasted from the mountainside and crushed to produce concrete for the stadium.

Most of Souto de Moura’s work has been in his native Portugal.

An award ceremony is scheduled for June 2 in Washington.

Pritzker laureates receive a $100,000 grant and a bronze medallion. The prize has been awarded since 1979.