Rafael Moneo is a Spanish architect who graduated from ETSAM, Technical University of Madrid (UPM) in 1961. In the same year, he traveled to Denmark to work with Jorn Utzon, designer of the Sydney Opera House, in his firm in Hellebæk (Denmark). In 1963, he went to Rome to study for two years, then headed back to Spain.


Moneo started an academic career in his homeland by teaching at several respectable Universities. Among those institutes were Madrid Architecture School and Barcelona Architecture School. He also worked overseas as a guest professor at several important universities such as Princeton and Harvard.

Moneo is an architect who dedicated his life not only to teaching but also to creating masterpieces that won him many esteemed prizes. His scope of work enriched urban architecture through his functional aesthetic designs.


– National Architecture Award (1961) -Gold Medal for Fine Arts (1992)

– Príncipe de Viana Award for Culture (1993)

– Pritzker Award (1996) -Mies Van der Rohe Award (2001)

– Gold Medal for Architecture (2006)

– Príncipe de Asturias Award for the Arts (2012)

– National Architecture Award (2015)

– Praemium Imperiale (2017)

Some of Moneo’s most famous designs

1) Museo del Prado Extension, Madrid, Spain (2007)

Photography: Los Angeles via Wikipedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Although criticized for greatly exceeding its budget, observers say that this is the most significant building extension in the last 200 years. The three-story extension of the Museo del Prado has an area of 22,000 square meters, and it comprises the new galleries. It is located behind the historical part of the museum.

2) Gregorio Maranon Maternity and Pediatric Hospital, Madrid, Spain (2003)

Photography: Luis García via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0 ES)

The hospital complex has an area of 50,000 square meters. To create a serene ambiance, the volumes of the nine-story hospital surround eight courtyards. The exterior is clad in steel and glass.

 3) Cathedral of Our Lady of Angels, Los Angeles, 2002

Photography: David Castor via Wikimedia Commons

The historic Cathedral of Saint Vibiana took a serious blow in LA’s earthquake, 1994. Moneo designed the Cathedral of Our Lady of Angels to replace the historical ruins. The postmodern geometric design features a yellow exterior. Moneo wanted the entrance to be fit for the religious value of the place. He wished the visitor to experience a spiritual journey while ascending the lower plaza, the stairway, and the upper plaza, till reaching the bronze doors.

4)   Madrid Atocha railway station, Madrid, 1992

Photography: Luis Garcia via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 2.5)

The Spanish architect designed an extension to Madrid’s train station in 1992. The new addition increased the area of the station by 4 folds. The extension design accommodated the super-fast AVE trains to offer the passengers a better railway experience. The addendum features a circular building with multiple reddish-brown pillars.

5) National Museum of Roman Art, Mérida, Spain (1986)

Photography by Flickr user Manuel Ramirez Sanchez

This project was the turning point in Moneo’s career as it introduced him to the global architectural community. The design combined the present and the past; the modern and the ancient. The location of the museum lies within the best-conserved Roman city in the west of Europe. The building has high arches which give way to the paths of the exhibition areas. Additionally, the architect used techniques and materials which characterize the Roman architecture.

6) Bankinter, Madrid, Spain (1976)

Image via pritzkerprize.com

This was the first project for Moneo in Madrid. Three interconnecting masses compose the Bankinter building. The design, as well as the red-brick exterior, is in keeping with the busy neighborhood.


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