Thai Architect Wins Driehaus Prize

John Hill
21. January 2020
One Nimman, Chiang Mai, 2016 (Photo via University of Notre Dame)

Architect Ong-ard Satrabhandhu, principal of Ong-ard Architects in Chiang Mai, Thailand, has been named the recipient of the 2020 Richard H. Driehaus Prize for traditional architecture from the University of Notre Dame.

Since 2003 the Driehaus Prize has been given annually to "a living architect whose work embodies the highest ideals of traditional and classical architecture in contemporary society, and creates a positive cultural, environmental, and artistic impact." Satrabhandhu's work, which consists mainly of large houses but also includes commercial and public spaces, "demonstrates innovation within tradition," per a statement from Michael Lykoudis, who served as the jury chair and is dean of Notre Dame’s School of Architecture. “His projects have a unique beauty that results from incorporating lessons gleaned from years of study across diverse cultures. The resulting buildings seamlessly blend with the vernacular traditions of Thailand.”

Courtyard House, Bangkok, 2006 (Photo via University of Notre Dame)

The jury* found a movement from modernist to traditional architecture in Satrabhandhu’s career:

"[His] early work clearly reflected his modernist education at American schools of architecture [Cornell University, 1965 & Yale University, 1967] — designs of large-scale commercial buildings in Bangkok. His search for meaning in architectural form led him to explore historical sources that conveyed a sense of place with tranquility, and an environmentally responsible culture of building. This search eventually led him to classicism in its truest sense — the immutable tradition of a given culture and the universal components found across time and place."

Ong-ard Architects (Photo via Wikimedia Commons)

Satrabhandhu will receive the 2020 Richard H. Driehaus Prize during a ceremony at the University of Notre Dame on March 28, 2020. The Driehaus prize carries a $200,000 purse, double the amount given to the winner of the Pritzker Architecture Prize. Although the prizes are at odds in matters of taste — the Driehaus Prize focused on traditional architecture, the Pritzker on modern/contemporary architecture — they both come from Chicago businesses: Richard H. Driehaus's Driehaus Capital Management LLC and the Pritzker family's Hyatt hotel corporation, respectively. 

Ong-ard Satrabhandhu (Photo via Wikimedia Commons)
*The jury for the 2020 Driehaus Prize:

  • Robert Davis, Developer and Founder of Seaside, Florida
  • Melissa DelVecchio, Partner at Robert A.M. Stern Architects
  • Léon Krier, Inaugural Driehaus Prize Laureate
  • Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, 2008 Driehaus Prize Laureate and Partner, DPZ
  • Demetri Porphyrios, 2004 Driehaus Prize Laureate and Principal, Porphyrios Associates
  • Witold Rybczynski, Emeritus professor of urbanism at the University of Pennsylvania

Related articles

Featured Project


Calgary's new Central Library

Other articles in this category