2003 - Jose Rafael Moneo 1937 -

Atocha railway station, Madrid

Designer: Moneo Valles Rafael (1937-)
Copyright: Paolo Rosselli/RIBA British Architectural Library Photographs Collection, 1991

Rafael Moneo is the architect’s architect - along with Siza who would have to wait a little longer for his Royal Gold Medal. In many ways the work is as modest as the man (who has been said to have the air of a provincial bank manager rather than that of one of the greats of 20th century architecture), and yet the simplicity of his forms hides a complexity of thought.


The citation reads: 'Rafael Moneo has been one of the most perceptive and articulate executors of architectural intentions in recent times. Even though most of his work directly demonstrates his reflective mood and his personal passion for architectural thought, it defies simple stylistic classification.


'Whilst thoroughly cognisant of the past, his architecture is deeply embedded in and engaged with the present, constantly negotiating the precarious boundary between its specific temporal autonomy and its role as a catalyst for advancing the discourse of architecture. The atypicality and innovations of his projects are invariably held in tension with their typicality, as part of a continuing tradition of architecture. It is in this sense also that for him architecture endures ...


'Rafael Moneo’s constant re-evaluation of architecture has evolved through a range of significant public buildings: early works such as the Town Hall of Logroño; major museums such as the National Museum of Roman Art, Mérida (1980–86), the Pilar and Joan Miró Foundation, Palma de Mallorca (1987–92), the Museums of Modern Art and Architecture, Stockholm (1991–98); and later works such as the Kursaal auditorium and congress centre in San Sebastián (1991-99) and the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels (1996-2002) ...


'Rafael Moneo ... is the closest embodiment we have of the idea of the renaissance architect – practitioner, teacher, theorist, critic, deeply knowledgeable on the arts. His work does not just delight the eye, but always provokes thinking.'
'He brings to all his projects, be they a bank or a museum, a station or a cultural centre, the same minute attention to detail, the same clarity. His role as a teacher and thinker is equally important and his significance as an architect is becoming clearer and clearer as his pupils begin to build for themselves.'