José Rafael Moneo Valles was born in Tudela (Navarre) in 1937. He studied at the Superior Technical School of Architecture in Madrid, obtaining the title in 1961. From 1958 to 1961, he worked, as a student, with the Navarrese architect Francisco Javier Saenz de Oiza in Madrid and, later, in 1961, with Jorn Utzon, author of the Sydney Opera House, in his studio in Hellebæk (Denmark).
In 1963, he was awarded with a grant by the Spanish Academy in Roma, city in which he stayed until 1965. Back in Spain, he started working in Madrid, beginning his relationship with teaching at the Madrid Architecture School (1966-1970). In 1970, he obtained professorship of Composition Elements at the Barcelona Architecture School, where he taught until 1980, when he held the professorship of Composition at the Madrid School, in which he stayed until 1985.
In 1976, he was invited to the United States and worked at the Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies, in New York (1970-1977). At the same time, he taught different courses at the Cooper Union School of Architecture. In 1985, he was named assigned of the Graduate School of Design, at the Harvard University.
He has received different international prizes, among them, the “Oscar” of Architecture –the Pritzker Prize, in 1996-, as well as the Prize of the International Union of Architects (1996), the Golden Medal for Fine Arts of the Spanish Government, and the Príncipe de Viana Prize. His most awarded work is the Kursaal, which was granted in 2001 with the European Union Prize for Architecture Mies van der Rohe.