Jørn Utzon - Architect and designer of the Sydney Opera House
The Macular Degeneration Foundation would like to convey our sincere condolences to the Utzon family following the death of Jørn Utzon, the renowned architect and designer of the world famous heritage listed Sydney Opera House. Jørn died in Copenhagen on 29 November 2008, aged 90. Utzon was awarded the Pritzker Prize in 2003 for his work on the Opera House - an architect's highest honour.
Many will not know that Utzon also lived with macular degeneration. His vision gradually deteriorated until he could not watch television without great difficulty or read without a magnifying glass.
Jan Utzon spoke about his father at the MDAW Dinner 2008
Utzon had been overseeing the detailed plans for the renovation of the Sydney Opera House. He had been working with his son Jan on this monumental project. "The building, described as 'a masterpiece of human creative genius', was constantly in his mind's eye even as his physical vision dimmed in recent years." (Sydney Morning Herald, 1 December 2008)
The Weekend Australian reported on 21 June 2008 that "In order to complete work on [the Sydney Opera House], Jan has taken on the role of visual amanuensis, translating his father's visual solutions into nuanced plans. Often, father and son will communicate on design questions with wooden shapes, while other times Jørn will inspect Jan's visual rendering of his ideas with a magnifying glass".
The Sydney Opera House
The Macular Degeneration Foundation was honoured to have Jan represent the Utzon family as the special guest at the Macular Degeneration Awareness Week Dinner in 2008. Jan flew from Denmark to attend the dinner where he spoke his father's deteriorating eyesight and about the man who inspired him to believe that anything is possible. It was truly an inspirational evening.
3 December 2008