Alvaro Siza, recipient of the Pritzker Architecture Prize, recently completed his year as a Mentor in the Rolex Mentor and Protege Arts Initiative. Launched in 2002, this international programme seeks out extraordinarily gifted young artists and gives them the opportunity to collaborate with contemporary masters in their fields.
Siza’s protégé was Sahel Al-Hiyari, a 39-year-old Jordanian architect who studied at Harvard and the University of Venice before establishing his own practice in Amman in 1997.
Siza was one of five Mentors this cycle. The others were Sir Colin Davis, principal conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra; William Forsythe, director of the Ballett Frankfurt; Toni Morrison, Nobel Prize winning author; and Robert Wilson, acclaimed theatre artist.
The aim of the initiative is to provide Protégés with opportunities to grow creatively and to increase their understanding of their profession. Protégés spent at least 30 days with their Mentors during the 12-month programme.
Siza’s Protégé was Sahel Al-Hiyari, a 39-year-old Jordanian architect who studied at the Rhode Island School of Design, Harvard University Graduate School of Design and the University of Venice. After working in architects’ offices in the United States, Italy, Jordan and Egypt, he established his own practice in Amman in 1997.
"There’s lots of design talent in the world," he said. "I can make a bigger difference here."
Recognising the distinctive character of each artistic discipline and the crucial influence of personal chemistry, the programme is designed to allow the Mentors and Protégés to collaborate in their own way.
"What was most important to me was the freedom we had to define the methods in which we worked together," said Álvaro Siza of his relationship with Sahel Al-Hiyari. "Over the course of the year, our relationship evolved toward a mutual knowledge of our work and shared discussions of architecture, including visits together in Portugal and exchanges of information about our countries, about history and geography and its influence on architecture."
Speaking of the benefits of his year with Álvaro Siza, Sahel Al-Hiyari commented: "The big reward is the process of ideas unfolding. I only wish we had more time – but I know Siza will continue to influence my future."
Terrace at Centro Galego de Arte Contemporáneao