In a slew of award announcements this week, the AIA has now revealed architect Gabrielle Bullock as the 2020 Whitney M. Young Jr. Award recipient and architectural educator David Leatherbarrow for the 2020 AIA/ACSA Topaz Medallion for Excellence in Architectural Education.
Named after the civil rights leader, the AIA Whitney M. Young Jr. Award distinguishes an architect or architectural organization that embodies social responsibility and actively addresses a relevant issue, like affordable housing, inclusiveness, or universal access.
As for the Topaz Medallion, which is regarded as one of the highest honors for an architectural educator, the award distinguishes an individual for their active involvement in architectural education for over a decade and for influencing a broad range of students through their teaching.
2020 Whitney M. Young Jr. Award: Gabrielle Bullock
The 2020 Whitney M. Young Jr. Award went to architect Gabrielle Bullock, who was praised for her ceaseless dedication to improving equity and inclusivity in the field that has led to palpable changes. Driven to become an architect to positively impact the lives of African-Americans and other people of color, Bullock was the first African-American and first woman to take on the role of managing director at Perkins and Will and has served as the firm’s director of global diversity since 2013.
Not only has she broadened inclusivity within the firm, she also champions diversity throughout the profession. She is the first African-American woman to be president of the International Interior Design Association, and has given a crucial voice for the AIA’s Equity in Architecture Commission and its Diversity Council.
Her design work is reflective of her values, which focuses on amplifying the voices of ethnically diverse communities. For example, Destination Crenshaw is an open-air museum along the 1.3-mile stretch of Crenshaw Boulevard in Los Angeles that celebrates the local African-American community through art exhibitions. She has also led many of the National Organization of Minority Architects' youth initiatives and is passionate about exposing minority youth to the architecture profession.
“As former staff of AIA National and responsible for equity, diversity, and inclusion, I have relied upon Gabrielle Bullock to provide support, advocacy, and speak for the advancement of a more diverse profession,” wrote Damon Leverett in a letter supporting Bullock’s nomination for the award. “While being highly engaged in the culture of the profession, she maintains a progressive career as an architect and designer, leading socially responsible projects across the country and globally.”
2020 Topaz Medallion: David Leatherbarrow
For nearly four decades, Professor David Leatherbarrow has trained reflective practitioners through his graduate and undergraduate courses exploring the interdependence of design and theory. He is considered to be one of the world’s leading experts in architectural history and theory.
Active at University of Pennsylvania's Stuart Weitzman School of Design since 1984, Leatherbarrow has taught courses, and has served at multiple levels of design education at the school — including being associate dean and department chair, serving two decades as the Ph.D. program chair, and is interim leadership for its urban design and undergraduate architecture programs. Prior to Penn, he taught at Cambridge University and the University of Westminster in England.
Leatherbarrow has been invited to serve as an academic advisor and assessor at distinguished schools worldwide. He also counsels academic and government officials on how to address the challenges of educating future architects. He is a prolific author that has written over 140 scholarly essays and articles, and many of his works have been translated into multiple languages.
“Professor Leatherbarrow's work moves effortlessly between architectural history, cultural theory, and environmental ethics, making his teaching particularly relevant in today’s world,” Professor Mari Hvattum of The Oslo School of Architecture and Design wrote in a letter supporting Leatherbarrow’s nomination. “Students intuit this relevance immediately, and I have rarely sensed such a poignant concentration as during his lectures or seminars.”
“This is an outstanding teacher of exceptional energy and ambition. He has been invited as a visiting tutor and scholar quite literally by distinguished institutions all over the world,” wrote Kenneth Frampton, the Ware Professor of Architecture at Columbia University, in a letter supporting Leatherbarrow's nomination. “What can one say? Elite teachers in architectural schools do not come more distinguished than this.”
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