The American Institute of Architects has named Edward Mazria, FAIA, as the 2021 AIA Gold Medal winner, recognizing the outstanding efforts of the Santa Fe, N.M.–based Architecture 2030 founder to raise awareness about the role of the built environment in climate change among the design and construction industries, political leaders, and the general public.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., the architect attended Pratt Institute before spurning a draft pick from the New York Knicks to join the Peace Corps in 1964. Following his service assignment in Peru, Mazria returned to New York to join Edward Larrabee Barnes’ office. He pursued advanced studies at the University of New Mexico and then taught at the University of Oregon, where he focused on solar energy research and authored the best-selling publication The Passive Solar Energy Book (Rodale, 1979).
Upon returning to New Mexico, Mazria produced a notable body of early environmentally conscious work in the Southwest, including the Stockebrand Residence, the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture, Sol y Sombra (the historic estate of Georgia O’Keeffe), the Mt. Airy Public Library, and the Rio Grande Botanic Garden Conservatory.
A founding member of AIA’s Committee of the Environment in the early 1990s, Mazria was struck by a 2003 Metropolis cover story that stated simply: “Architects pollute.” This helped direct his as well as the profession’s attention on the carbon impact of building. Mazria was one of the first people to calculate the enormous effect that the built environment had in creating our current climate crisis, and one of the first to call the profession to task in order to effect change.
Mazria created the nonprofit Architecture 2030 and ensuing 2030 Challenge to get considerable buy-in across disciplines and the globe; the 2030 Challenge would later serve as a model for the AIA 2030 Commitment. Mazria's advocacy also informed the 2015 Paris Agreement, providing an example of how an architect can operate across disciplines and national boundaries to provide guidance and leadership for crucial social change.
“At a time when we are fighting a public health pandemic and an escalating climate crisis, Ed’s leadership represents a bold, consistent voice of environmental stewardship for our entire profession,” Brooks + Scarpa's co-founder and managing partner Angela Brooks, FAIA, wrote in support of Mazria's nomination. “His ability to speak about complex issues in a clear and compelling way [and] to advocate and create tools and policies needed to transform our built environment will result in a healthier, safer, and better future for everyone on planet Earth.”
Mazria also authors the monthly CarbonPositive column for ARCHITECT, inspiring architects and designers to help create and contribute to a carbon-positive future. He and his team at Architecture 2030 served as the guest editors for ARCHITECT's January 2020 Climate issue.
The Gold Medal is conferred by the AIA Board of Directors and the AIA Strategic Council from a short list of three finalists, as identified by an Advisory Jury. This year's Advisory Jury was chaired by Emily Grandstaff-Rice, FAIA, and comprised Trevor Bullen, AIA; Majora Carter; Chyanne Husar, AIA; Clarence Kwan, AIA; Steven Lewis, FAIA; Lisa Matthiessen, FAIA; and James Polshek, FAIA.
This is a breaking news story and will continue to be updated.