Kathryn Anthony
Kathryn Anthony

This morning, The American Institute of Architects and the Association of the Collegiate Schools of Architecture named Kathryn Anthony as the 2021 recipient of the AIA/ACSA Topaz Medallion for Excellence in Architectural Education, the highest honor given to an educator in architecture. Since 1976, AIA and ACSA have been conferring this award on individuals for their demonstrated dedication to the education of and their influence on architecture students.

Anthony earned a B.A. in psychology and a Ph.D. in architecture from the University of California, Berkeley. With a career in academia spanning four decades, the ACSA Distinguished Professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has pioneered research on gender and race in contemporary architecture. Anthony, the longest serving female faculty member at UIUC School of Architecture, has lectured worldwide and testified before the U.S. Congress in support of H.R. 4869, the Bipartisan Restroom Gender Parity in Federal Buildings Act. By teaching courses that bridge architecture, business, and psychology, Anthony challenges her students to examine connections between design and the communities it impacts, equipping budding designers “with the tools to [become] more effective leaders in the profession and to become more influential citizens whose work can have a significant impact on society,” as she noted in a 2018 interview with ARCHITECT.

"It is a rare quality to find a teacher who inspires and impacts students because of her knowledge, exemplary research, relevant and realistic teaching methods, and as a role model in everything she does," writes executive director of the Pritzker Prize Martha Thorne in a letter supporting Anthony's nomination. "The integration of all these is truly unique and leaves a lasting impression on students (and colleagues) as well as granting them the necessary skills to approach, analyze, and propose new ideas for the challenges they will face. ... Her work has long had a national and international impact, helping to bring diversity front and center to the agenda of architectural education and practice."

In addition to inspiring countless students—including Perkins&Will principal Brodie Bain, FAIA, and faculty emeritus at the UIUC School of Architecture Robert I. Selby, FAIA—during her tenure, Anthony has authored more than 100 publications and five books including Designing for Diversity: Gender, Race, and Ethnicity in the Architectural Profession (University of Illinois Press, 2001) and Defined by Design: The Surprising Power of Hidden Gender, Age and Body Bias in Everyday Products and Places (Prometheus Books, 2017).

"She has been a persistent international leader in our field, voicing more innovative and sensitive ways to practice, teach, and design spaces," Bain wrote in a letter supporting Anthony's nomination. "Whether through her many publications, unique courses, dedication to students from all backgrounds, within both architectural education and practice, Kathryn’s support and devotion to people whose voices are often not heard has helped foment a monumental change—one that is now more frequently concerned with a greater diversity of people who use the spaces that architects design."

The jury for the 2021 Topaz Medallion comprised chair Donna W. Dunay, FAIA, Chair, Virginia Polytechnic Institute, Blacksburg, Va.; Erin Conti, AIAS, Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago; Thomas Fisher, Assoc. AIA, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis; Danielle McDonough, AIA, Cambridge Seven Associates, Cambridge, Mass.; and Carol Ross Barney, FAIA, Ross Barney Architects, Chicago.

This is a breaking news story and will be updated.