It's a big day of announcements for the AIA! Earlier, Moshe Safdie was revealed as the 2015 AIA Gold Medal recipient. Other big announcements the AIA made today include Ehrlich Architects from Los Angeles as the 2015 AIA Architecture Firm Award winner. Considered the AIA's highest honor to an architecture firm, the award recognizes a practice that has produced consistently distinguished architectural projects for a minimum of 10 years.
Peter Eisenman also won the 2015 AIA/ACSA (Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture) Topaz Medallion, which honors an individual for their significant involvement in architecture education for more than a decade as well as their widespread influential teaching to students.
Edward Mazria will receive the 2015 Kemper Award, which recognizes an architect who has contributed greatly to the profession through service to the AIA.
Last but not least, the student-led Rural Studio will be honored with the 2015 Whitney M. Young Jr. Award. Named after the civil rights-era head of the Urban League, this award honors architects and organizations that represent the profession’s proactive social mandate through commitments relating to affordable housing, inclusiveness, and accessiblity.
Read more about the recipients below.
2015 AIA ARCHITECTURE FIRM AWARD: EHRLICH ARCHITECTS:
"The work of Ehrlich Architects covers a wide variety of program types (residential, commercial, institutional, educational) and uses a much richer palette of materials and textures than the typical California Modernist-influenced firm. However, they are most distinguished by the subtle and complex way they blend Modernist and multicultural design elements. Before founding his Los Angeles-based firm in 1979, Steven Ehrlich, FAIA, spent time working with the Peace Corps in Africa. There Ehrlich gained an appreciation for simple, natural materials and vernacular solutions to energy, sustainability, and building performance challenges.
Back in Southern California, Ehrlich found opportunities to renovate properties designed by architects high up in the California Modernist canon (like Richard Neutra, FAIA), which helped him to develop a confident, loose-limbed, but still traditional Modernist aesthetic. But his experiences in Africa, with building traditions created years before Modernism demanded a total rupture with the past, pushed him to develop an architecture that was more inclusive, responsible, and responsive than pure Modernism.
Ehrlich Architects is led today by four diverse partners: Steven Ehrlich, FAIA; Takashi Yanai, AIA; Patricia Rhee, AIA; and Mathew Chaney, AIA."
Ehrlich Architects will be honored during the 2015 AIA National Convention in Atlanta.
2015 AIA/ACSA TOPAZ MEDALLION: PETER EISENMAN:
"Throughout his career, Eisenman has been celebrated for his writings, research, and scholarship as well as his commitment to teaching. He is primarily known for his long associations with Princeton, Harvard, Cooper Union, and Yale, where he’s been a full-time professor since 2005.
Eisenman has been a visiting critic or professor at nearly a dozen schools across the nation, and he has lectured at countless more. After 60 years of teaching, the shadow cast by his tenure looms over generations of architects: Tod Williams, FAIA; Daniel Libeskind, AIA; Shigeru Ban, Hon. FAIA; and another Topaz recipient, Harrison Fraker, Assoc. AIA, all studied under him.
Born in Newark, N.J., in 1932, Eisenman graduated from Cornell University with a B.Arch in 1955. He continued his studies at Columbia University, where he received an M.Arch in 1959. He moved to England in 1960 to earn a doctorate in architecture and teach at Cambridge University. He returned to the United States in 1963 to teach at Princeton University, alongside Michael Graves, FAIA. In 1967, Eisenman began his private practice with a series of houses located in the Northeast. The same year he founded the Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies in New York City, which attracted a consortium of liberal arts schools that sent undergraduates to study architecture in a nontraditional environment. Fisher called it “the first architectural think tank.”
2015 KEMPER AWARD: EDWARD MAZRIA:
"In his 40-year career, Mazria has been at the center of the sustainable design or green building movement, pushing a grassroots revolution to get architects, planners, public officials, developers, and decision-makers to see how buildings and infrastructure affect the environment, why architecture and planning matters, and the key role architects must play in driving positive change. Through research, compelling imagery, and tireless public presentations, he made it clear that architecture and planning are the gateway to true long-term global sustainability. Mazria founded Architecture 2030 in 2006 and issued the 2030 Challenge.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., Mazria earned an architecture degree from the Pratt Institute and continued with graduate studies at the University of New Mexico. He built a successful practice in New Mexico, becoming an expert on passive solar building design and energy efficiency. During the oil embargos of the 1970s, Mazria closely examined the energy consumption of his buildings—long before any widespread understanding of climate change existed."
2015 WHITNEY M. YOUNG JR. AWARD: RURAL STUDIO:
"The award was granted in recognition of the student-led design/build projects that Rural Studio established to address the dire needs of one of the South’s poorest and most underserved regions. Students of this Newbern, Alabama-based design/build program within Auburn’s architecture school -- founded in 1993 by D.K. Ruth and Samuel Mockbee, FAIA -- build homes and community buildings for the residents of western Alabama, where nearly 40 percent of residents subsist below the poverty line. As students spend semester after semester there, they engage racial, economic, cultural, and vernacular issues at a pace and depth unrivaled by any other program. Rural Studio’s projects prove that an authentic conversation with the residents, no matter how unconventional the client, can yield ambitious architecture."
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