Ralph Gibson Toshiko Mori

Today, the American Institute of Architects and the Association of the Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA) named architect Toshiko Mori, FAIA, the 2019 recipient of the AIA/ACSA Topaz Medallion for Excellence in Architectural Education, the highest honor given to an educator in architecture. The AIA and the ACSA have been conferring this award on individuals for their demonstrated dedication to education and influence over students of architecture since 1976.

Born in Japan, Mori moved to the United States to attend the Cooper Union School of Architecture in the 1970s. She went on to found New York–based Toshiko Mori Architect and she currently serves as the Robert P. Hubbard professor in the practice of architecture at the Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD), where she has taught since 1995. Mori was the first female faculty member to receive tenure at the GSD, where she has also served as the chair of the GSD architecture department from 2002 to 2008.

Iwan Baan Darwin D. Martin House Visitor Center in Buffalo, N.Y.
Iwan Baan Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research in Cambridge, Mass.

“Toshiko is an indefatigable advocate of architecture in the broader halls of academia and a formidable institution builder whose determination, patience, and hard work have earned her the broad respect and admiration in academia at large, in the profession, and wherever she has been called to represent architecture,” wrote last year’s Topaz Medallion winner Jorge Silvetti, Intl. Assoc. AIA, in a letter supporting Mori’s nomination.

A graduate of the Cooper Union, Mori started her career working with American architect Edward Larrabee Barnes. In 1983, she founded her eponymous practice and soon thereafter began teaching at the Cooper Union’s Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture. She has served as a visiting faculty member at Columbia University and Yale University. In 2009, she established VisionArc, a think tank dedicated to addressing the role of design in social and environmental issues.

“Toshiko the educator exercises the same generosity towards the students as she does her colleagues and imbues each conversation or review with empathy that very few architectural critics have,” wrote Hashim Sarkis, dean of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s School of Architecture and Planning, in a letter supporting Mori’s nomination. “What is unique about her teaching is the way she establishes open conversations with modern architecture through specific inquiries into specific projects, which then open up ideas to develop and evolve.”

Paul Warchol House in Ghent in Ghent, N.Y.
Iwan Baan Thread Artist Residency & Cultural Centre in Sinthian, Senegal

Some examples of Mori’s recent work include the Thread Artist Residency & Cultural Centre in Sinthian, Senegal—a 2017 AIA National Institute Honor Award for Architecture winner—and the Brooklyn Children’s Museum Rooftop Pavilion in New York. Her work has been exhibited at the International Architecture Exhibition at the Venice Biennale and at the Guggenheim Museum in New York, among other venues.

The 2019 Topaz Medallion jury comprised: chair Donna Kacmar, FAIA, University of Houston, Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture and Design; Evelyn Lee, AIA, Newmark Knight Frank; Donna Robertson, Illinois Institute of Technology College of Architecture; Amelia Rosen, Assoc. AIA, AIAS president-elect, Carnegie Mellon University; and Adele Naudé Santos, FAIA, MIT.

This is a breaking news story and will be updated.