Álvaro Joaquim Melo Siza Vieira was born in Matosinhos, near the city of Porto, in 1933. From 1949-55 Álvaro Siza studied at the School of Architecture, at the University of Porto. His first building project was finished in 1954. From 1955 to 1958 he was a co-designer of the Architect Fernando Távora. He taught at the School of Architecture (ESBAP) from l966-1969 and was appointed Professor of "Construction" in 1976.
He has been a Visiting Professor at the Ecole Polythéchnique of Lausanne, the University of Pennsylvania, Los Andes University of Bogotá and the Graduate School of Design of Harvard University; from 1949 to 1955 he studied at the School of Architecture, University of Porto. Since he has been invited to compete in many international contests, he won the first place in Schlesisches Tor, Kreuzberg, Berlin (now built), at the renovation of Campo di Marte in Venice (1985) and at the renewal of Casino and Café Winkler, Salzburg (1986).
He has participated in the competitions:
- Expo '92 in Sevilla, Spain (1986)
- "Un Progetto per Siena", Italy (1988)
- The Cultural Centre La Defensa in Madrid, Spain (1988/89) being the winner of the latter and also for the Bibliotheque de France in Paris (1989/90), the Helsinki Museum (1993) and the Islami Centre in Lisbon (1994), Pieta Rondanini room at the Sforzesco Castel in Milan (1999) and the special Plan Recoletos-Prado in Madrid (2001).
The Portuguese Department of the International Association of Art Critics awarded him the Prize of Architecture of 1982. He received an Award from the Portuguese Architects Association in 1987.
- In 1988 he was awarded with the Gold Medal of the "Colegio de Architectos" of Spain, the Gold Medal of the Alvar Aalto Foundation, the "Prince of Wales Prize" in Urban Design by Harvard University and the "European Award of Architecture" by the Economic European Comunity/Mies van der Rohe Foundation, Barcelona
- In 1992 he was awarded the Pritzker Prize by the Hyatt Foundation of Chicago for his body of work; In 1993 the Portuguese Architects Association gave him the National Prize of Architecture.
- In 1994 he received the Dr. H.P.; Berlagestichting Prize and the Gubbio Prize / Associazione Nazionale Centri Storico-Artistici
- In 1995 the Nara World Architecture Exposition awarded him the Gold Medal and the "Fiera di Verona" gave him the International Award Architetture di Pietra
- In 1996 he was awarded the Secil Prize of Architecture and in 1997 the Manuel de la Dehesa Award by the Menendez Pelayo University, in Santander
- In 1998, he received the Arnold W. Brunner Memorial Prize by the American Academy of Arts and Letters, New York, the Premio IberFAD de Arquitectura by the Foment de les Arts Decoratives, Barcelona, and the Praemium Imperiale by the Japan Art Association, Tokyo, and the Gold Medal by the Circulo de Bellas Artes of Madrid; In 1999, he received the "Gra-Cruz da Ordem do Infante D. Henrique" given by the Presidency of the Portuguese Republic and the Leca Prize of Construction '98
- In 2000, he was awarded the "Premio Internazionale di Architettura Sacra" by Fondazione Frate Sole in Pavia and the Secil Prize of Architecture
- In 2001, he was awarded the Wolf Prize in Arts (Architecture) by Wolf Foundation, in Israel and Alexandre Herculano National Prize of Architecture, in Lisbon
- In 2002, he was awarded the International Compostela Prize by Xunta da Galicia, in Santiago de Compostela; the International Medal of Arts by Consejera de las Artes, in Madrid
- the Venice Golden Lion by Biennale di Venezia, in Venice
- the best Professional Trajectory in Architecture by the III Ibero-American Biennale in Architecture and Civil Engineering in Santiago, Chile
- Personality of the Year 2002 by Foreign Press Association in Portugal
- the Best International Architect Trajectory – Vitruvio 2002 by the National Belas Artes Museum in Buenos Aires, Argentina
- In 2003, he was awarded the Medal of Merit Touristic by Inland Revenue Department in Lisbon, Palladio d’Oro by Vicenza Town Hall, Italy, Special Mark of Honour by the Castilla La Mancha Oficial College of Architects in Guadalajara.
Álvaro Siza was appointed with the Doctor "Honoris Causa" by many universities and institutes: University of Valencia (1992); École Polythécnique Fédérale de Lausanne (1993); Palermo University (1995); Menendez Pelayo University in Santander (1995); Universidad Nacional de Ingeniería de Lima in Peru (1995); University of Coimbra (1997); Universidade Lusíada (1999);