Designer of the Kunsthaus Bregenz in Austria and recipient of the 2009 Pritzker Prize and 2013 RIBA Royal Gold Medal. He was known for such architectural literature as "Thinking Architecture," "Atmospheres," and "Seeing Zumthor," a collaboration with photographer Hans Danuser.
He was apprenticed to a carpenter in 1958, and he studied at Kunstgewerbeschule beginning in 1963. He was an exchange student at Pratt Institute in New York beginning in 1966.
He became a professor at the Accademia di Architettura di Mendrisio; he also taught at the Southern California Institute of Architecture in Los Angeles, the Technical University of Munich, Tulane University, and the Harvard Graduate School of Design.
He was born into the family of a cabinetmaker residing in Basel.
He was born in the same country from which architect Le Corbusier hailed.