Australia’s most famous architect, Glenn Murcutt has been named by the Japan Art Association as a recipient of the 2021 Praemium Imperiale for architecture. The Praemium Imperiale is a prestigious arts prize awarded annually to laureates in recognition of their outstanding individual achievements, their impact on the arts internationally, and their role in enriching the global community.

“Glenn Murcutt is an architect ahead of his time – an architect who has spent his career creating modest, environmentally responsible buildings rooted in the climate and tradition of his native Australia,” the Praemium Imperiale citation read.

The Pritzker Architecture Prize-winning Murcutt is also the first Australian to be awarded the Praemium Imperiale.

"This year's Praemium Imperiale laureates represent the pinnacle of artistic achievement in each of their fields and have inspired, engaged, and connected global communities through their exceptional talent, dedication and work," said Hisashi Hieda, chairman of the Japan Art Association.

"I am convinced that it is the passion of artists that will help us overcome all hardships and become a force for change in the world, bringing peace and prosperity to mankind," said former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who has been appointed as International Advisor to the Praemium Imperiale by the Japan Art Association to preside over the Asian Nomination Committee.

Born in London, England in 1936 to Australian parents, Glenn Murcutt spent his early years in the Morobe Province on the northern coast of Papua New Guinea. Moving to Sydney in 1941, he attended Manly Boys’ High School and then went on to study architecture at the Sydney Technical College. Following his graduation in 1961, he travelled for a couple of years and subsequently joined the reputed firm of Ancher, Mortlock, Murray and Woolley in 1964. Murcutt set up his own firm in the affluent Sydney suburb of Mosman in 1969, and to this day continues to work as a solo practitioner and only builds in Australia.

"The Praemium Imperiale is a wonderful cultural gift to the arts, internationally," said Murcutt. "Being a 2021 recipient took me by complete surprise; it is simply wonderful for me but especially for the profession of Architecture in Australia. Even at 85, such an award encourages me to continue working for as long as I am able."

The 32nd edition of the awards program also recognised achievers in painting, sculpture and music. The 2021 Praemium Imperiale laureates included Sebastião Salgado - Painting (Brazil/France), James Turrell - Sculpture (U.S.A.) and Yo-Yo Ma - Music (U.S.A.).

Each recipient will receive an honorarium of 15 million yen (AUD 187,500), a medal and a testimonial letter.