Ong-ard Satrabhandhu named 2020 Driehaus Prize laureate

Author: Mary Beth Zachariades

Ong-ard Satrabhandhu, an architect from Thailand who has devoted his career to exploring what dialogue with history means in architecture and urbanism, has been named recipient of the 2020 Richard H. Driehaus Prize at the University of Notre Dame. He will be awarded the $200,000 prize during a ceremony on March 28 (Saturday) in Chicago.

Clem Labine

Clem Labine

In conjunction with the Driehaus Prize, Clem Labine, the publisher and founder of influential publications, prizes and digital media, will receive the $50,000 Henry Hope Reed Award. This is given annually to an individual working outside the practice of architecture who has supported the cultivation of the traditional city, its architecture and art.

“The work of Ong-ard Satrabhandhu demonstrates innovation within tradition,” said Michael Lykoudis, Driehaus Prize jury chair and the Francis and Kathleen Rooney 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.”

“Satrabhandhu’s work is imbued with a remarkable tranquility and beauty at all scales from residential to commercial and public spaces,” said Richard H. Driehaus, founder and chairman of Chicago-based Driehaus Capital Management LLC. “I am pleased he has joined the pantheon of Driehaus Prize laureates, who represent the highest accomplishments of contemporary classicism in diverse cultures around the world.”

The jury citation states, “(Satrabhandhu’s) early work clearly reflected his modernist education at American schools of architecture — 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.”

Satrabhandhu practices architecture as a principal of the firm Ong-ard Architects, based in Chiang Mai, Thailand. He received a bachelor’s degree in architecture from Cornell University in 1965 and a master’s degree in urban studies from Yale University in 1967. He is the author of “A Tradition of Serenity.” He is dedicated to using his design to reinforce the principles of the traditional city and, accordingly, his research and advocacy have brought recognition to the problems facing historic Lanna buildings and temples characteristic of Chiang Mai.

The Richard H. Driehaus Prize at the University of Notre Dame was established in 2003 to honor lifetime contributions to traditional, classical and sustainable architecture and urbanism in the modern world. The prize is awarded annually to a living architect whose work has had positive cultural, environmental and artistic impact in keeping with the highest ideals of classical architecture in contemporary society.

Also honored at the March 28 award ceremony will be Labine, the Henry Hope Reed Award laureate, for his vital role in creating and maintaining a national network of architects, academics and artisans devoted to the promotion of traditional architecture.

“Clem Labine created a vibrant forum for ideas that have undoubtedly changed the course of contemporary classicism in America,” said Driehaus. “His vision allowed strangers to become collaborators, leading to a true professional community.”

The jury citation reads, “(Labine’s) audience reach transcends the academic, professional and construction industries and dignifies all the disciplines that produce beauty in the built environment. Labine’s work has encouraged an entire industry to thrive, making information and connections available to broad audiences, and ensuring that the practice of traditional and classical architecture could grow beyond the regional to the broad constituency it enjoys today.”

Labine is the founder and editor emeritus of Old-House Journal, Traditional Building and Period Homes magazines. Labine also created the Palladio Award, which recognizes excellence in traditional design, and the eponymous Clem Labine Award for creating more humane and beautiful environments.

This year’s Driehaus Prize and Henry Hope Reed Award laureates were selected by a jury composed of Robert Davis, developer and founder of Seaside, Florida; Melissa DelVecchio, partner at Robert A.M. Stern Architects; Léon Krier, architect and urban planner; Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, founding principal of DPZ; Demetri Porphyrios, principal of Porphyrios Associates; and Witold Rybczynski, the Meyerson Professor Emeritus of Urbanism at the University of Pennsylvania.

Originally published by Mary Beth Zachariades at on January 16, 2020.