Frei Otto in 1971.
© Bettmann/CORBIS Frei Otto in 1971.

This post has been updated.

German architect and engineer Frei Otto has been named as recipient of the 2015 Pritzker Architecture Prize. The announcement comes some two weeks ahead of plan, as Otto died Monday, sadly, and the Pritzker is awarded only to living architects.

Otto was born in Seigmar, Germany, in 1925, and served as a pilot in the Luftwaffe during World War II. He launched his practice in 1952, and earned international recognition for projects such as the West German Pavilion at Expo 67 in Montreal and the 1972 Munich Olympics Stadium.

Otto's investigations into irregular, organic structure have influenced generations of other architects and engineers, and led to notable collaborations, as in the Japanese Pavilion at the 2000 Expo in Hannover, Germany, with 2014 Laureate Shigeru Ban, Hon. FAIA.

Japanese Pavilion at the 2000 Expo
Hiroyuki Hirai Japanese Pavilion at the 2000 Expo

The Pritzker jury had this to say about Otto: "Taking inspiration from nature and the processes found there, he sought ways to use the least amount of materials and energy to enclose spaces. He practiced and advanced ideas of sustainability, even before the word was coined. He was inspired by natural phenomena – from birds' skulls to soap bubbles and spiders' webs. He spoke of the need to understand the 'physical, biological and technical processes which give rise to objects.'"

The 2015 jury comprises: architectural patron Lord Peter Palumbo (chairman); architect Alejandro Aravena; Stephen Breyer, an associate justice on the U.S. Supreme Court; Yung Ho Chang, AIA; architecture writer and curator Kristin Feireiss; 2002 Pritzker Laureate Glenn Murcutt, Hon. FAIA; Richard Rogers, Hon. FAIA, senior partner of London's Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners and the 2007 Pritzker Laureate; architect Benedetta Tagliabue, and Ratan N. Tata, chairman emeritus of Tata Sons.

Otto is the 40th laureate to receive the Pritzker Prize. Previous winners include Shigeru Ban, Hon. FAIA (2014); Toyo Ito, Hon. FAIA (2013); Wang Shu (2012); Eduardo Souto de Moura, Hon. FAIA (2011); and Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa (2010).

For more information and images on Frei Otto's work, visit ARCHITECT's Project Gallery.