Steven Holl, Architect of the Bloch Building Honored with BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award

Steven Holl, architect of the Bloch Building at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, has been awarded the first Frontiers of Knowledge Award for the arts by the BBVA Foundation. The Foundation is the philanthropic arm of Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria (BBVA), a multinational Spanish banking group.
Steven Holl


The Bloch Building was one of six Holl buildings specifically cited in the announcement of the award. Holl’s work was praised for its “personal language and recognizable identity,” as well as creating a language that “has consistently remained apart from external, formal and stylistic compromise.” The jury also singled out “the formal, spatial and functional processes of his personal artistic vision.”

The award comes with a cash prize of 400,000 Euros (approximately $520,000), the second largest cash award after the Nobel Prize.

The arts award was the fourth announcement in the inaugural series of BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Awards. Other awards were given in areas of climate change, development cooperation and biomedicine.

Holl, who also is a professor in Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, was unaware he had been nominated for the award and described himself as “overwhelmed.

“I consider myself highly honored to receive an award that lays such importance on the interrelations of the arts,” he said. “I believe the relationship of all the arts becomes especially patent in architecture, and it is in architecture that it finds its fullest expression. I move in the same circles as painters and video artists and feel I am well acquainted with other arts.”

The BBVA award adds to a list of honors Holl has received since completing the Bloch Building at the Nelson-Atkins, which opened in the spring of 2007 and which TIME called “the number one architectural marvel of 2007.”

Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art