The Architectural League presented Walter Hood with the award during a public ceremony on July 21. A public ceremony took place at Marcus Garvey Park in Harlem. Hood's illustrious career has positioned him as an impactful landscape architect whose eclectic design approach bridges the gap between landscape architecture, design, and urbanism as a cultural practice.
The highest honor given to an individual for their exceptional achievements in architecture, urbanism, art, design, and the environment, The Architectural League conducted their first in-person since March 2020. Packed with featured performances from groups within the community friends, colleagues, and visitors took part in the event as they witnessed tributes to Hood by Mario Gooden, Mabel O. Wilson, and Sara Zewde.
Hood's practice, Hood Design Studio, is responsible for notable projects such as the Viaduct Rail Park in Philadelphia, New de Young Museum Gardens in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park, the garden redesign for the Oakland Museum of California (OMCA), and most recently, "Black Towers/Black Power" in Reconstructions: Architecture and Blackness in America at MoMA. The "multi-arts" ceremony at Marcus Garvey Park in Harlem is a fitting reflection of Hood's eclectic design approach.
Architectural League President Paul Lewis applauded Hood, stating he was "one of the most influential designers of public space of our time, an artist who sees his work as a cultural practice, creating beauty in everyday environments, revealing hidden histories, renewing connections, guiding the way to co-existence in all our multiplicity and difference. There could be no more fitting person to honor at the moment of our re-engagement with public life."
Hood joins the list of other distinguished President's Medal winners such as architects Tod Williams and Billie Tsien; Andrew Freear, Director of the Rural Studio of Auburn University; Christiana Figueres, negotiator of the 2015 Paris Agreement on Climate Change; architect Henry Cobb; and beloved critic Ada Louise Huxtable to name a few.
Earlier this year, Hood was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2021 and recognized as a 2021 USA Fellow. In addition, he is the recipient of the MacArthur Fellowship in 2019 and the Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize. In 2020, his latest book, Black Landscapes Matter, was published. In posing the question, "Do Black landscapes matter?," the book consists of writing and research that dives deep into American history and its relationship to slavery, segregated cities, and the nation's troubled landscape. As described in the blurb from the book, "Black landscapes matter because they tell the truth." Another piece of writing that reiterates his ethos as a designer, this statement echos Hood's ongoing influence in the profession.
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