by: AIA New York
On Thursday, April 20, AIA New York and its supporters gathered at Cipriani Wall Street for the annual Honors and Awards Luncheon, which celebrated architects, professionals, and media outlets who are committed to the continued improvement and growth of New York City’s architecture community. In addition to recognizing the 18 winners of the 2023 AIANY Design Awards, the Luncheon serves as one of the organization’s largest fundraisers.
This year’s event gathered more than 665 members and supporters who came together to raise over $370,000 in support of AIA New York, exceeding our goal of $350,000. These funds allow our chapter to continue to provide programs on issues of substance to New Yorkers in the design community and beyond, to mount exhibitions that share the work of our members with the public and fellow design professionals, and to advocate for the role of architects and the importance of design excellence in the public realm.
The first award conferred at the Luncheon was the Architecture in Media Award, formerly known as the Stephen A. Kliment Oculus Award. Since 2003, the award has honored those who set new standards for communicating the value of architecture to a wider community. This year, the Architecture in Media Award was conferred on the New York Review of Architecture, a publication that has examined architecture in New York since its first issue in May 2019. Rooted in New York but interested in architecture everywhere, NYRA avoids themed issues, publishing pieces that break down architecture’s silos to tie together academia, practice, and the public.
Accepting the award on behalf of the NYRA team was Publisher Nicolas Kemper, joined on stage by Editor Samuel Medina, Deputy Editor Marianela D’Aprile, Editor at Large Alex Klimski, Art Director Laura Coombs, and Operations Coordinator Nicholas Raap. Kemper spoke of the early days of NYRA in 2019, when they sent out 100 hand-folded copies of their first issue from a basement in Chinatown. Growing from a 3,500-word publication to a 30,000-publication wouldn’t have been possible, he noted, without the support of the architecture community in New York. Kemper invited the audience to continue to support the publication, emphasizing the importance of architectural journalism: “Buildings are important. They make our lives possible, whether it be their roles in challenging or reenforcing inequity, in challenging or reenforcing exclusion, in challenging or changing culture, in harming or helping our environment, they are not passive players. they are not accidents. They are expressions of a confluence of forces and they contain stories we cannot see. Help us tell those stories so we might all better understand our world and, armed with that understanding, change it.”
Up next was the Champion of Architecture Medal, first awarded to R. Buckminster Fuller in 1952, which recognizes an individual outside the architectural profession for their contributions to architecture and the built environment. The 2023 Champion of Architecture was Richard C. Yancey, FAIA, LEED AP, Founding Executive Director of Building Energy Exchange, a nonprofit center of excellence accelerating the transition to healthy, comfortable, and energy-efficient buildings by serving as a resource and trusted expert to the building industry. Through education, exhibitions, and actionable research, BE-Ex plays a central role in New York City and New York State’s climate action plans.
Yancey began his acceptance speech by focusing on gratitude, recognizing that the Building Energy Exchange “would not be here today without an amazing community of people who took a risk, defied the odds, and helped to establish a new innovative non-profit to drive building decarbonization.” After thanking individuals who were critical to the success of the organization, he spoke briefly about citizenry, noting that we are at an inflection point in the climate crisis, a moment where innovative solutions are becoming built examples and ambitious policies are becoming laws. After reminding the audience that buildings make up 40 percent of the world’s carbon emissions, and nearly 70 percent of New York City’s, he welcomed architects to become active citizens in the fight against climate change, closing his speech with an invitation to NYC’s architectural community: “This terrifying existential threat provides an opportunity for our profession to lead. In successfully adapting our standards of practice to meet the climate challenge, architects can renew our fundamental role of shaping a better tomorrow for generations to come. Please join me on this journey.”
The program’s third award was the recently created New Perspectives Award, which celebrates individuals or collectives who, through their own recently published or curated work, take unique, critical positions that contribute to the broader understanding of architecture. This year’s recipient was the WIP (Work in Progress | Women in Practice) Collaborative, a shared practice of independent designer professionals focused on research and design projects that engage communities and the public realm.
In her acceptance speech, WIP Co-founder Lindsay Harkema, who was joined on stage by Sera Ghadaki, Abby Coover, Bryony Robert, Ryan Brooke Thomas, and Elsa Ponce, spoke about the collaborative’s values, including their commitment to feminist principles that eschew patriarchal conventions in the built environment and their non-hierarchical organization, influenced by a long lineage of feminist practices worker cooperatives, and activist groups. Harkema reminded the audience that feminism in architecture goes beyond the numbers. While acknowledging the importance of representation, she called on the profession to address all the issues that would enable women to stay and thrive in the profession: “Normalize discussion of women’s health, reproductive justice, and gender-affirming care. Provide paid parental leave, fertility, and pre- and post-natal, and abortion healthcare. Acknowledge the intersectional ways that structural inequity impacts individual, professional, and personal lives. Pay women equally. Promote them as design leaders.” Her speech concluded with a call to embrace new structural ways to celebrate collective authorship, inviting attendees to “bring more voices to the table and embrace a range of design values and interests that better support the diverse needs and identities of the broader population.”
The day’s final award was the Medal of Honor, which is the Chapter’s highest distinction, conferred to an architect or architecture firm for a distinguished body of work and high professional standing. This year, the Medal of Honor was awarded to Andrew Bernheimer, FAIA, Founding Principal of Bernheimer Architecture and Associate Professor of Architecture at the Parsons School of Design. Bernheimer’s 22-person firm made history in 2022 when they became the first private-sector architecture union in the United States.
During his acceptance speech, Bernheimer expressed his gratitude to AIA New York, noting the great deal of support and professional enrichment the chapter has provided him with during his time in New York. He went on to thank the people and organizations who made an impact on his professional life as an architect, including his family and friends, clients, consultants, allied professionals, contractors, and colleagues, before recognizing the work of his team at Bernheimer Architecture, including BA leadership and the BA union. “At BA we design a wide variety of projects,” said Bernheimer. “The work—affordable housing, private homes, commercial interiors—is made by so many people who aren’t me.” Bernheimer reminded the audience that the profession’s collaborative efforts to make a healthier and more equitable profession require that workers feel acknowledged, empowered, heard, and humanized.
Thank you to all our members and supporters who helped make our 2023 Luncheon a success! And don’t miss the 2023 AIANY Design Awards exhibition, on view at the Center for Architecture from May 4 through September 2, 2023.