Glenn Murcutt in 2004
|Awards||RAIA Gold Medal (1992)|
Alvar Aalto Medal (1992)
Pritzker Architecture Prize (2002)
American Institute of Architects Gold Medal (2009)
|Buildings||Marie Short House (1975), Fredericks House (1982), Ball-Eastaway House (1983), Magney House (1984), Marika-Alderton House (1994), Arthur and Yvonne Boyd Education Centre (1999)|
Glenn Marcus Murcutt AO (born 25 July 1936) is an Australian architect and winner of the 1992 Alvar Aalto Medal, the 2002 Pritzker Architecture Prize and the 2009 American Institute of Architects Gold Medal. Glenn Murcutt works as a sole practitioner without staff, builds only within Australia and is known to be very selective with his projects. Being the only Australian winner of the prestigious Pritzker Prize, he is often referred to as Australia's most famous architect.
Murcutt was born in London to Australian parents. He spent the first five years of his life in the Morobe Province of Papua New Guinea, where he first encountered a simple, vernacular architecture. After moving to Sydney with his parents in 1941, he was educated at Manly Boys' High School and studied architecture at the Sydney Technical College, from which he graduated in 1961. Murcutt's early work experience was with various architects, such as Neville Gruzman, Ken Woolley, Sydney Ancher and Bryce Mortlock, which exposed him to their style of organic architecture focussing on relationships to nature. By 1969, Murcutt established his own practice in the Sydney suburb of Mosman.
Murcutt works as a sole practitioner, producing residential and institutional work all over Australia. Although he does not work outside the country or run a large firm, his work has a worldwide influence, especially since Murcutt teaches master classes for beginning and established architects.
Murcutt's motto, 'touch the earth lightly', leads him to design his works to fit into the Australian landscape features. His works are highly economical and multi-functional. Murcutt also pays attention to aspects of the environment such as wind direction, water movement, temperature and light surrounding his sites before he designs the building itself. Materials such as glass, stone, timber, concrete and steel are often included in his works.
Testament to his influence internationally was the award of the 2002 Pritzker Architecture Prize, one of the highest distinctions in architecture. In the words of the Pritzker jury: "In an age obsessed with celebrity, the glitz of our 'starchitects', backed by large staffs and copious public relations support, dominates the headlines. As a total contrast, Murcutt works in a one-person office on the other side of the world ... yet has a waiting list of clients, so intent is he to give each project his personal best. He is an innovative architectural technician who is capable of turning his sensitivity to the environment and to locality into forthright, totally honest, non-showy works of art." In 2009 Murcutt won the American Institute of Architects Gold Medal.
Murcutt currently lectures and teaches architectural studies as a professor at the UNSW Faculty of Built Environment.
His latest completed project is a new mosque in the Melbourne suburb of Newport. In 2016, Murcutt's mosque project became the focus of a critically acclaimed documentary, "Glenn Murcutt: Spirit of Place", by renowned filmmaker Catherine Hunter. The film documents the growing acceptance of Murcutt's strikingly contemporary design, weaving into the narrative the stories of his famous domestic commissions, interviews with those involved, and an intimate biography of his life. Hunter has said about Murcutt: "He gives everything, he can't help himself. He's unstoppable, he's this force. Long before we started talking about things such as sustainability, Glenn was practicing those things."
Murcutt's son Nicholas (1964-2011) was also a practicing architect.
Prestigious awards include:
He is an Honorary Fellow of the American Institute of Architects (AIA), an International Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada, an Honorary Fellow of the Finnish Association of Architects as well as Honorary Member of the Architects Institutes in Taiwan, Scotland and Singapore. In 2008 he was elected an Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In 2010, he was named a Senior Fellow of the Design Futures Council. He was founding President of the Australian Architecture Association and is Chair of the Architecture Foundation Australia (annual Murcutt International Master Class).