My title

AIA, Pritzker Shower Prizes on Inspiring Practitioners

AIA, Pritzker Shower Prizes On Inspiring Practitioners

Pterodactyl: A deconstructionist office building and parking structure in Culver City CA now needs a trophy case.

Pterodactyl: A deconstructionist office building and parking structure in Culver City CA now needs a trophy case.

by JOHN GREGERSON | Jan 28, 2016

The architect who coined the phrase “Less is a bore”, and his collaborator of 55 years have captured the American Institute of Architects 2016 Gold Medal, one of several prizes conferred by AIA's annual Honor Awards program. Combined with the recent announcement of the latest Pritzker Architecture Prize, it has certainly made for several weeks of well-deserved honors and welcome tributes. 

Robert Venturi, FAIA, and [his wife] Denise Scott Brown, Hon. FAIA, have long enhanced the popular appreciation of architecture, with their whimsical forms that play off historical precedents and their writing in support of everyday building types that might otherwise be disregarded,” AIA indicated in a statement.

“This recognition will resonate with generations of architects,” added an admiring 2015 AIA President Elizabeth Chu Richter, FAIA. “What Denise and Bob have done for the profession far exceeds the completion of a great building or two. Through a lifetime of inseparable collaboration, they changed the way we look at buildings and cities. Anything that is great in architecture today has been influenced in one way or another by their work."

Anything that is great in architecture today has been influenced in one way or another by their work
— Elzabeth Chu Richter, 2015 AIA President
Duty, honor: Brown's focus is disaster relief.

Duty, honor: Brown's focus is disaster relief.

For his pioneering and courageous work in disaster relief, Albuquerque NM-based architect Terrance J. Brown received the AIA 2016 Edward C. Kemper Award. A decorated Vietnam combat veteran, Brown is former chair of the AIA National Disaster Assistance Task Force

“Over the course of many catastrophes in four decades, Brown has put his architectural and leadership skills to work helping people be safe, recover and rebuild,” noted his AIA citation. “After earthquakes, tornadoes, terrorist attacks and other disasters, Brown has led the rebuilding effort. He has also personally trained more than 1,000 U.S. and Canadian architects in ways to mitigate and recover from a disaster.”

Over the course of many catastrophes in four decades, Brown has put his architectural and leadership skills to work helping people be safe, recover and rebuild
— Kemper Award Citation for Terrance Brown

Each year, the AIA Institute Honor Awards also recognize specific projects for professional excellence in architecture, interiors and urban design. This year, AIA assembled peer-to-peer juries to evaluate roughly 500 submissions. The winners, named earlier this month, will be recognized at the AIA 2016 National Convention in Philadelphia this May 19-21. While the program is global in scope, only one 2016 honoree – the Asia Society Center in Hong Kong – is located outside the U.S. Despite the lack of geographic diversity, winning projects demonstrated a diverse array of forms, materials and vernacular.

The latest honors recognize 18 projects, including a deconstructionist office building and parking structure named Pterodactyl, Culver City CA. Its inspired and unconventional forms suggest that AIA once again has sidestepped the straight and narrow to spur creativity.  

PivotApt: Versatility is everything for this NYC micro-unit.

PivotApt: Versatility is everything for this NYC micro-unit.

Other recipients include Studio Gang's stylish new Lake Michigan boathouse in Chicago; a 400-sq-ft microapartment in NYC (at right); and a planned urban farm network in Fayetteville AR. For the AIA press release, click here.

Of Pterodactyl, AIA asks, “Is it a set of blocks exploding out of a parking garage, or a monumental pterodactyl crouched there? Passersby may puzzle over what they're seeing, but they're sure to engage with the eccentric form.” As designed by L.A.-based Eric Owen Moss Architects, Pterodactyl's multi-use, “tumbling-blocks appearance” belies “a simple rectilinear interior... an open floor plan suited to contemporary office layouts” according to its award citation.

Another honoree, the concrete-clad, cube-like Perot Museum of Nature and Science in Dallas, designed by Santa Monica-based Morphosis Architects, “is like a gigantic visual pun announcing the intention of the institution contained inside,” AIA observes. “Concrete is made from a scientific treatment of natural earthen material, and the museum is dedicated to nature and science.”

Fun with concrete: The Perot Museum of Science and Nature in Dallas is as striking as it is unconventional.

Fun with concrete: The Perot Museum of Science and Nature in Dallas is as striking as it is unconventional.

Meanwhile, somewhere in chile...

Viva Aravena!

Viva Aravena!

AIA is not the only entity that honors design excellence, however. The Pritzker Architecture Prize, founded in 1979 and sponsored by The Hyatt Foundation, often is referred to as "the Nobel Prize of Architecture." This year, Chile's Alejandro Aravena is the 2016 Pritzker Architecture Prize Laureate

In describing the reasoning behind the choice, Tom Pritzker, chairman and CEO of The Pritzker Organization, said, “The jury has selected an architect who deepens our understanding of what is truly great design. [He] has pioneered a collaborative practice that produces powerful works of architecture and also addresses key challenges of the 21st century. His built work gives economic opportunity to the less privileged, mitigates the effects of natural disasters, reduces energy consumption, and provides welcoming public space. Innovative and inspiring, he shows how architecture at its best can improve people’s lives.”

Responding joyously to the press via e-mail, a grateful Aravena wrote, “Looking backwards, we feel deeply thankful. No achievement is individual. Architecture is a collective discipline. So we think, with gratitude, of all the people who contributed to give form to a huge diversity of forces at play. Looking into the future we anticipate Freedom! The prestige, the reach, the gravitas of the prize is such that we hope to use its momentum to explore new territories, face new challenges, and walk into new fields of action...Finally, looking at the present, we are just overwhelmed, ecstatic, happy. It's time to celebrate and share our joy with as many people as possible.”

Like many of this year's award winners, the 48-year-old Aravena is no stranger to challenging geometries. Witness those informing his design of 2014's UC Innovation Center at Universidad Católica de Chile in Santiago, Chile, and for the same owner, the Siamese Towers Technology Centre in 2005.

Among his current projects is an office building for health-care company Novartis in Shanghai, China. Aravena will receive the Pritzker Prize on April 4 at the United Nations' Headquarters in NYC.

Google+ Google+