The 2007 Royal Medal was awarded to Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron and was presented to the architects at a special ceremony in February 2007.
Jacques Herzog (left) and Pierre de Meuron (right)
From the official citation: 'This year’s Royal Gold Medal recognises the impact Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron have made both on cities and on architects throughout the world, from their early inspirational work in Switzerland, via the London projects for Tate Modern in 2000 and the RIBA Stirling Prize-winning Laban dance centre in 2003, to their recent and current work in Barcelona, Tokyo and Beijing.
Perhaps their highest profile project in the UK is the widely acclaimed conversion of the Bankside power station into Tate Modern. This will soon be followed by their striking crystalline proposals for its new extension. It is good to see a British institution showing loyalty to their architects with these acts of patronage, not least because art and the interpretation of architecture as art have always been important to Herzog & de Meuron, who, from the very beginning of their careers, have collaborated with artists like Joseph Beuys.
Their career has seen them move painlessly and swiftly from being an experimental studio, to establishing a big practice without diluting the quality and inventiveness of the work in any way. They seem to approach each new project afresh and study its requirements and possibilities with no preconceptions. The result is often a radical solution delivered with confidence and vigour. Their recent exhibition of models and preparatory work at Tate Modern showed this process to great effect. And their influence on the current and future generations of architects is huge, both as teachers and practitioners.
Recent projects include Prada’s new flagship store in Tokyo in 2003, a sumptuous plastic form both inside and out and one worthy of the couture it contains. In the same year they won the RIBA’s Stirling Prize for the Laban, a building clad in diaphanous polycarbonate over coloured sheeting which gives a wonderful quality of light to the studios. In 2004 their Cottbus University building in Germany, with its curved glass facades with a printed pattern or veil showed us once and for all that decoration is no longer a crime.
The Forum in Barcelona was completed in 2004; and in 2005 they finished the Allianz Arena, the new football stadium for Munich, which cleverly changes colour depending which of the two teams that share it is playing at home. Current projects include the Caixa Forum-Madrid, a new exhibition space for Fondaçion La Caixa; the New Link Quay in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, comprising a new way to link the city of Santa Cruz with the Marina; and finally the Elbphilharmonie, a new concert hall for Hamburg. Their most prestigious project currently under construction is the National Stadium Beijing, the main venue for the 2008 Olympic Games with its dramatic bird’s nest structure. This will be a challenge for the UK to match in 2012.
Herzog and de Meuron’s work is too prolific to be fully covered in this citation. Moreover they are not at the end of their careers, they are in mid flight. What is remarkable is their mastery of materials and their range of architectural form. Each project is started anew and one can sense the relish they have in finding yet another solution, yet another expression. They are more than worthy winners of the 2007 Royal Gold Medal.'