July 21, 2021
by AIA New York
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Architecture in Media Award recipient Cathleen McGuigan. Photo: Jenna-Beth Lyde.
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Champion of Architecture Medal recipient Justin Garrett Moore, AICP, NOMA. Photo: Courtesy Justin Garrett Moore.
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Medal of Honor recipient Kim Yao, AIA. Photo: Dean Kaufman.

On Tuesday, July 20, AIA New York held its second (and hopefully final!) virtual Honors and Awards Luncheon, celebrating architects, public servants, and journalists who are committed to design excellence in New York City, as well as the recipients of the 2021 Design Awards. While usually hosted in Cipriani Wall Street’s Greek Revival dining hall, this year’s remote gathering still provided attendees with opportunities to network and celebrate design excellence in the five boroughs.

Bringing together 475 of our members, supporters, and allied professionals, this year’s event raised a total of $212,250. This support enables AIANY to host programs on issues of substance for the design community and beyond, and has also made it possible for the Chapter to prepare to reopen the Center for Architecture in the fall, when we will resume mounting exhibitions that are free and open to our members and the general public.

The first award recipient of the evening was Cathleen McGuigan, editor-in-chief of Architectural Record, who was honored with the Architecture in Media Award, formerly known as the Stephen A. Kliment Oculus Award. In his introduction, AIANY President Kenneth A. Lewis, AIA, stated, “Cathleen and her team have broken some of the most important architectural stories of recent years, like in February 2020, when they sounded the alarm on the president’s planned order mandating so-called classical architecture for federal projects. Cathleen’s journalism provides a vital service to our community, and always with intelligence, clarity, deep respect for great design and a commitment to journalistic excellence.”

“As an editor, whose business it is to shine a light on the work of others, it is a particular honor to be singled out by a community of architects whose achievements are the basis of our journalism,” said McGuigan.

The Champion of Architecture Award, originally called the Award of Merit, was awarded to Justin Garrett Moore, AICP, NOMA. Since 1952, when it was first conferred on R. Buckminster Fuller, this honor has celebrated individuals from outside the profession for their support of exceptional design. “From his leadership of the Public Design Commission to his collaboration with AIANY on the Designing New York: Quality Affordable Housing Guidelines, to his role with the Mellon Foundation on Humanities in Place and the Monuments Project, to his recent appointment to the US Commission on Fine Arts, Justin has used every opportunity to place design excellence at the center of public and civic life,” said Lewis. “As architects, we count on leaders like him to shine light on the importance of design in public life.”

“I trust that this honor is also a result of the collective difficulty that we have all been through the past year—or four hundred years, depending on how you’re counting—of social and environmental reckoning,” said Moore. “The AIA New York has stepped up during this time, including a public acknowledgement that architects have been complicit in upholding the systemic racism that is engrained within their practices and the built environment—and in the criminal justice system specifically. The AIA New York has begun to engage the difficult work to advocate for change in policies and attitudes within our society. I’m hopeful that this work will continue. You can count me as an accountability partner to see that our ideal for what is meant, exactly, by ‘excellent design’ is ethical, transformational, and beautiful—and is rooted in social and environmental justice instead of eurocentrism and white supremacy.”

This year, the Medal of Honor, the Chapter’s highest recognition recognizing an architect or firm for distinguished work and high professional standing, was conferred on Kim Yao, AIA, principal of Architecture Research Office and 2020 President of AIANY. According to Lewis, “More than being an accomplished member of this community, Kim has served our chapter in a way few else could aspire to. It goes without saying that the last year and a half have been filled with major new challenges and incredible opportunities for change. And thanks to Kim’s heroic leadership through 2020, we have an AIANY that has never been more prepared to embrace and shape the future of the profession and its role in our city.”

“It’s a tremendous honor to be recognized with Justin and Cathleen—a cohort that advocates for the future of the city and the critical role of architecture within it,” said Yao.

A full video of yesterday’s program is available online. Additional information for the event can also be found in this year’s Digital Journal.

Congratulations to all of our honorees and Design Awards recipients! Please remember to join us at the Center for Architecture this fall for an exhibition of our 2020 and 2021 Design Awards!

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