Martha Thorne and Benedetta Tagliabue have much in common; both are prominent figures in the world of contemporary architecture, members of the Pritzker Prize jury -of which Martha is also Director-, and both consider Spain to be not only their adoptive country but also their home.
Martha, as Dean of IE School of Architecture & Design, has a special role in this project; she has been one of its key drivers. Her role in selecting and inviting the architectural practices involved has also been instrumental to its success.
Both Sheila Cremaschi, Director of the Hay Festival Segovia, and David Venables, European Director of AHEC -the two other project partners-, knew that Martha had to be one of the inspirers. After accepting the challenge, Martha decided instantly that Benedetta would be the ideal architect to discover and shape her dream. With the enthusiastic “yes” from Benedetta, both faced this unusual task with a contagious joy and creativity.
Martha recalls that Benedetta and she had a first meeting at her Madrid home. This is where they began to explore what her dream was. “At first I didn’t have a clear idea. We started talking about my lifestyle, the kind of activities I do daily and the things I value; and we came to the conclusion that what I value most is the time I spend with my friends. They are like my family in Spain and, although the time we share sometimes is limited, because we’re often traveling for work, when we do meet I like it to be in a comfortable environment in which the focus is on sharing. And where can you share best – whether food, a book, a cup of coffee, or a nice break- than around a table”.
Martha Thorne is currently Dean of IE School of Architecture and Design and is also the Executive Director of the Pritzker Architecture Prize, a position she has held since 2005.
From 1996 through 2005, she served as Associate Curator of the Department of Architecture at The Art Institute of Chicago. Her work during her tenure at the museum involved curating many exhibitions, developing publications, and participating in the ground-breaking study on collecting, archiving, and exhibiting digitally created design materials. She is the co-author of the books Masterpieces of Chicago Architecture and Skyscrapers: The New Millennium, editor and author for The Pritzker Architecture Prize: The First Twenty Years, and author of numerous articles for architectural journals and encyclopaedias. She regularly serves on international competition juries. She was a trustee of the Graham Foundation for Architecture and the Fine Arts and on the Board of Directors of the International Archive of Women in Architecture.
Martha Thorne received a Master of City Planning degree from the University of Pennsylvania and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Urban Affairs from the State University of New York at Buffalo. She undertook additional studies at the London School of Economics.
Benedetta Tagliabue studied architecture at the Istituto di Architettura di Venezia (IUAV) and is currently director of the international architecture firm Miralles Tagliabue EMBT, founded in 1994 in collaboration with Enric Miralles, based in Barcelona and since 2010 in Shanghai.
Among her most notable built projects are the Edinburgh Parliament, Diagonal Mar Park, the Santa Caterina Market in Barcelona, Campus Universitario de Vigo, and the Spanish Pavilion at the 2010 Shanghai World Expo which was awarded the prestigious RIBA International “Best International Building of 2011” award. Current studio projects include The Business School of Fudan University in Shanghai, office towers in Taiwan and Taichung, public spaces of HafenCity in Hamburg, Germany, and the metro station Clichy-Montfermeil in Paris, France.
Her studio works across the areas of architecture, design of public spaces, rehabilitation, interior and industrial design. Her poetic architecture, always attentive to its context, has won international awards in the fields of public space and design.
As an academic, she has been a visiting professor at Harvard University, Columbia University and Barcelona ETSAB, lecturing regularly at architecture forums and universities, and takes part in award juries around the world, e.g. the Princesa de Asturias awards and the Pritzker Prize juries.
In 2004 she received an honorary doctorate from the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Edinburgh Napier University, Scotland. She received the 2013 RIBA Jencks Award, which is given annually to an individual or practice that has recently made a major contribution internationally to both the theory and practice of architecture.
She is also the director of the Enric Miralles Foundation, whose goal is to promote experimental architecture in the spirit of her late husband and partner Enric Miralles.