Maverick California-based architect, designer of the LA transport HQ, collects prestigious honour.

Thom Mayne has become the first American to win the prestigious Pritzker Architecture prize for 14 years, adding his relatively unsung name to a list that includes Frank Gehry, Norman Foster, Zaha Hahid and the late Kenzo Tange.

Mayne, 61, founded his practice Morphosis in Santa Monica, in 1974, and soon developed a reputation for flouting the boundaries of traditional design. His work has shaped southern California, with such projects as the Diamond Ranch High School in Pomona and the Science Center in Los Angeles, and the yet-to-be-completed Cahill Center for Astrophysics at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. He has recently been awarded the contract to design the Olympic village for New York's bid for the 2012 Games.

The Pritzker jury citation said: "Thom Mayne is a product of the turbulent 60s who has carried that rebellious attitude and fervent desire for change into his practice, the fruits of which are only now becoming visible in a group of large scale projects."

The prize, which was created in 1979 and is modelled on the Nobel prizes, will be officially awarded to Mayne on 31 May in Chicago's Millennium Park.