Last week, the American Academy of Arts and Letters announced the winners of its annual architecture awards. What began in 1955 with the Arnold W. Brunner Memorial Prize, which awards $20,000 to any architect worldwide who has "made a significant contribution to architecture as an art," has since expanded to include the four other Arts and Letters Awards in Architecture, each of which awards a $10,000 purse to two American architects whose work shows "strong personal direction" and two American architects "who explore "ideas in architecture through any medium of expression."
This year's program was judged by a nine-person jury chaired by Annabelle Selldorf, FAIA, principal of her eponymous firm in New York; and comprised Henry N. Cobb, FAIA, founder and partner of New York–based Pei Cobb Freed & Partners; Kenneth Frampton, Ware professor of architecture at Columbia Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation; Steven Holl, FAIA, principal of New York–based Steven Holl Architects; Thom Mayne, FAIA, founding principal of Los Angeles–based Morphosis Architects; Laurie Olin, Hon. AIA, partner of the Philadelphia-based Olin Studio; James Polshek, FAIA, partner emeritus of New York–based Ennead Architects; and Billie Tsien, AIA, and Tod Williams, FAIA, co-founding partners of New York–based Todd Williams Billie Tsien Architects|Partners.
The five winners, chosen from a group of 33 architects and firms nominated by academy members, will receive their awards this May at a ceremony in New York.
Arnold W. Brunner Memorial Prize
This year's prize was awarded to 2011 Priztker Prize–winning Portuguese architect Eduardo Souto de Moura, Hon. FAIA, whose body of work includes his 2003 Estádio Municipal de Braga in Braga, Portugal; his 2009 Paula Rego Museum in Cascais, Portugal; his Burgo Tower in Burgo, Portugal; his Municipal Museum Abade Pedrosa and International Contemporary Sculpture Museum (designed with Álvaro Siza Vieira, Hon. FAIA) in San Tirso, Portugal, and his 2005 Serpentine Gallery Pavillion. His work "feels inevitable," Selldorf said in a press release, and has “a timeless and profoundly humanist quality.”
Arts and Letters Award in Architecture
Hernan Diaz Alonso was honored for his strong personal direction demonstrated in his work as director of Los Angeles–based SCI-Arc and founder and principal of Los Angeles-based firm principal of HDA-x Creative Agency (formerly Xefirotarch). Alonso “occupies a pivotal position from which to influence the future of architecture,” Mayne said in the release.
Eric Höweler, AIA, and Meejin Yoon, AIA, co-founders of Höweler + Yoon, were honored for their strong personal direction. Since its founding in 2005, their Boston-based practice has produced “some of the most formally innovative and beautifully crafted work today,” Williams said in the release.
Mario Gooden and Mabel O. Wilson were honored for their exploration of ideas in architecture as co-directors of the Global Africa Lab at Columbia's Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation. Their work at Columbia involves exploring "the spatial topologies of the African continent and its diaspora," according to its website.
Anne Rieselbach was honored for her dedication to exploring ideas in architecture. As the program director of the Architectural League of New York, she directs many of its integral programs including the Emerging Voices program. “From the earliest days of the ‘Emerging Voices’ program, she has continuously advocated for the exploration of new ideas in urban design and architecture,” Holl said in the release.