Created in 1982 by the Institute of Classical Architecture & Classical America (ICA), the Arthur Ross Awards recognize the achievements and contributions of architects, educators, artisans, and others dedicated to preserving and advancing the classical tradition. This year's five awardees, selected from more than 150 nominations, are:
In addition, the board of directors has given special recognition to Robert A.M. Stern for his far-reaching contributions to the profession as an architect, as an educator, and as a scholar and writer. Stern had been nominated for the publication of New York 2000, the final volume of his five-book series on the history of New York architecture, says ICA president Paul Gunther, but the jury felt—and the board of directors agreed—that he had earned a different kind of acknowledgement. This unique award “is kind of our Nobel,” says Gunther, “and may not be given again for many years. The standards are very high.”
The Ross Awards encompass 11 categories —architecture, artisanship, community design, education, history and publishing, landscape design, mural painting, patronage, rendering, sculpture, and stewardship—but only five awards are presented each year. Three years ago, says Gunther, the ICA decided it was unwieldy to celebrate 11 winners every year. “We want to be able to tell a story about each one” at the awards ceremony, says Gunther, and limiting the number to five makes that possible. This year's awards dinner will take place on May 7 at the University Club of New York.
Although the institute generally names winners based on a body of work, says Gunther, it does try to recognize younger firms and newer projects when appropriate. The ICA has nine chapters across the country that are creating their own awards programs for specific, recent accomplishments, which Gunther says will help bring possible future nominees to the attention of the ICA.
Imber, who founded his eponymous firm in 1992, couldn't be happier to receive a Ross Award. “It's a terrific honor,” he says, adding that in a time when contemporary design seems to dominate the press and the awards programs, the ICA and the Ross Awards offer the profession—and the public—a counterbalance. After all, he says, architects and designers who work in the classical tradition aren't simply mimicking the patterns of the past: “We're taking what people have known and improving it for modern lifestyles.”