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Francis Kéré Becomes First Black Architect to Win Pritzker Prize

For the first time in its history, the Pritzker Prize for Architecture has been awarded to a black man, Burkina Faso native, Diébédo Francis Kéré. His youth in a humble African village set the tone for his 25+ year career in which he focused on creating built environments that solve problems, enrich lives and sustain the environment. “I remember the room where my grandmother would sit and tell stories with a little light, while we would huddle close to each other and her voice inside the room enclosed us, summoning us to come closer and form a safe place,” he recalled in the Pritzker announcement. “This was my first sense of architecture.” With the absence of any school house in Gando, Kéré made it his mission to give back to the community once he had graduated from the Technical University of Berlin in 2004. He returned to his hometown to complete his first building, the Gando Primary School, which married modern engineering with traditional materials like local clay bricks. Simple yet elegant, the breeze-filled structure earned him the Aga Khan Award for Architecture. The following year he founded his firm, Kéré Architecture, which now has offices in Berlin and Burkina Faso, as well as Kéré Foundation, a non-profit that pursues projects in Gando.