The Royal Institute of British Architects has awarded Peter Zumthor the Royal Gold Medal, the U.K.'s most prestigious architecture prize.

The Swiss architect boasts projects ranging from Steilneset Memorial—an Arctic Circle monument to the victims of witch trials, which he designed with artist Louise Bourgeois—to an English home for philosopher Alain de Botton's Living Architecture holiday-home scheme. Zumthor's best-loved works include the Kunsthaus Bregenz in Austria, the Therme Vals in Switzerland, and the Kolumba Art Museum in Germany. 

But Zumthor is loved best because he has built so few works. With some 20 projects to his name, he has built a career defined as much by his careful selection of commissions as by his execution of projects. By his selection of materials, Zumthor's projects tend to engage many senses; by his selection of clients, he has cultivated an exacting vision for his work.

Oliver Wainwright, the architecture critic for The Guardian, describes Zumthor as possessing "an aura greater than any other living practitioner, of a weight heavier than any gong could bestow." Now there is one more reason to envy him.

Personally approved by Her Royal Majesty the Queen, the Royal Gold Medal has been awarded to such architects as Le Corbusier, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Oscar Niemeyer, and Frank Gehry, FAIA.