US Supreme Court justice Stephen Breyer becomes Pritzker Prize chair
Justice Stephen Breyer

US Supreme Court justice Stephen Breyer becomes Pritzker Prize chair

Justice Stephen Breyer has been appointed to lead the jury for architecture's most prestigious award.

The American lawyer will head the seven-strong panel of jurors that decide the recipient of the annual Pritzker Prize, organisers Tom Pritzker and The Hyatt Foundation announced last week.

Breyer follows former chairs, Australian architect Glenn Murcutt (2017-18), and British arts patron Peter Palumbo (2005-16) – who both retired from the jury this year. The lawyer has been a member of the judging panel since 2011, and has a longstanding interest and involvement in architecture.

Breyer, 80, represented the federal government as the client for the John Joseph Moakley United States Courthouse and Harbor Park in Boston. He and judge Douglas Woodlock worked closely with Henry Cobb of Pei Cobb Freed and Partners on the project.

Breyer also wrote the foreword for the book, Celebrating the Courthouse: A Guide for Architects, Their Clients, and the Public. He has held his seat in the US Supreme Court – the country's highest federal court – since 1994, when he was appointed by then-president Bill Clinton.

"His devotion to civic-minded architecture underscores the mission of the prize, and his unparalleled ability to guide a group deliberation is essential in creating a unified voice within this diverse and international panel of jurors," said Tom Pritzker.

The other jury members for the 2019 prize, which will be announced in the spring, include architects Richard Rogers, Kazuyo Sejima, Wang Shu and Benedetta Tagliabue; critic and curator André Corrêa do Lago; and philanthropist Ratan N Tata. Nominations are managed by Pritzker Prize executive director Martha Thorne.

This year's winner was Indian architect Balkrishna Doshi, and other recent recipients include Spanish studio RCR Arquitectes, Chilean architect Alejandro Aravena, and late German architect Frei Otto.

The prize, widely considered the industry's most important award, was set up in 1979 by the late Jay A Pritzker and wife Cindy. "Its purpose is to honour annually a living architect whose built work demonstrates a combination of those qualities of talent, vision and commitment, which has produced consistent and significant contributions to humanity and the built environment through the art of architecture," according to the organisation.