MADRID (AFP).- US architect Frank Gehry won Spain's top annual arts award for decades spent creating eye-catching buildings such as the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, the prize jury said on Wednesday.
The 85-year-old Canadian-born architect was named winner of the 50,000-euro ($70,000) Prince of Asturias Award for the Arts for work that has "defined and furthered architecture in the past half century", the jury said in its citation.
Among Gehry's best-known creations is the Bilbao Guggenheim, a silver mass of curved titanium that dominates the centre of the northern Spanish city, and the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles.
"His buildings are characterized by a virtuoso play of complex shapes, the use of unusual materials, such as titanium, and their technological innovation, which has also had an impact on other arts," the jury said.
"An example of this open, playful and organic style of architecture is the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, which, in addition to its architectural and aesthetic excellence, has had an enormous economic, social and urban impact on its surroundings as a whole."
Gehry was born in Toronto in 1929 but took US nationality after moving with his parents in 1947 to Los Angeles. He launched his own architecture firm there in the 1960s and has won various awards including the major Pritzker Prize in 1989.
The Prince of Asturias Foundation hands its arts prize each year for "a significant contribution to the cultural heritage of mankind", along with awards in seven other categories.
Previous winners of the arts prize include Spanish film director Pedro Almodovar, US singer Bob Dylan and British architect Norman Foster.
The awards are handed out by Spain's Crown Prince Felipe in a ceremony broadcast live on Spanish television in October.
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