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Asia's first architectural prize announced

A new international architecture prize from China, the first ever from Asia, was announced today to honour a young architect at a pivotal point in his or her career. The Ordos Prize is being co-sponsored by the City of Ordos, a new city in the Inner Mongolian region of China, and by the Jiang Yuan Cultural & Creativity Development Co., Ltd which was founded by Cai Jiang, a local entrepreneur who made his fortune in coal, natural gas and agriculture and is now an architectural patron. It is not only the first international architectural prize from Asia but it is China’s first international prize for any achievement and has attracted a number of the world’s leading architects to serve as nominators and jury members.

“Unlike other major prizes that recognize an architect for a significant project or body of work, The Ordos Prize is the first to honour emerging young talent,” says Rem Koolhaas of Office for Metropolitan Architecture, who heads The Ordos Prize Jury. “The Ordos Prize winners will be our next generation of great architects,” Mr. Koolhaas states.

The Ordos Prize is the will award the winner a commission to design a building. The winner’s building will be constructed in the Jiang Yuan Cultural & Creativity Industry Zone being developed by the Jiang Yuan Cultural & Creativity Development Co. in Ordos to showcase the arts and artisans of Mongolia. The winner also will receive a $20,000 monetary award and his/her work will be exhibited at venues in the U.S. and Asia. Further, the winner will be given lecture dates at two architecture departments – one at a Chinese university and one at an American or European university.

Candidates for the prize are being nominated by a panel of preeminent global architects: Ben van Berkel, Stefano Boeri, Liz Diller, Jacques Herzog, Thom Mayne, Pierre de Meuron, Enrique Norten, Kazuyo Sejima, Wang Shu and Robert A. M. Stern.

The Ordos Prize grows out of a commitment to experimentation in architecture by the Jiang Yuan Cultural & Creativity Development Co. The company first drew the eyes of the world to Ordos by teaming with Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron, architects of the Bird’s Nest Olympic Stadium, to select 100 young firms from 27 countries to design 100 villas in the residential district of this creative industry park. The Ordos 100 project gave birth to the idea for the Ordos Prize.

A territory once home to nomads and yurts, Ordos is an “overnight” city in Inner Mongolia rising out of the Ordos plains and surrounded by unique grasslands and deserts. Founded only seven years ago, the city now has a population of 1.36 million with one of the fastest growing economies in all of China due to the visionary efforts of Yun Feng who was instrumental in driving the city’s growth through the sustainable development of its natural resources.

“We are very proud to be a benefactor for the Ordos Prize,” says Mr. Feng. “The Ordos Prize strongly supports our commitment to culture and to building our city’s attraction as a visitor destination.”

The Ordos Prize will be awarded on August 20, 2009, at a unique Mongolian-style ceremony in Ordos. It will be a signature event of the 11th Asia Art Festival that will bring cultural and arts leaders from more than a dozen Asian countries to Ordos.

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