by: AIA New York
On Thursday, April 28, after two years of virtual celebrations, AIA New York and its supporters returned to Cipriani Wall Street for the annual Honors and Awards Luncheon, which celebrates architects, professionals, and media who are committed to improving communities through design excellence. In addition to recognizing the 25 winners of the 2022 AIANY Design Awards, the Luncheon serves as one of the organization’s largest fundraisers.
This year’s event gathered nearly 750 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 will 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 Champion of Architecture Medal, which honors an individual outside the architectural profession for their contributions to architecture and the built environment. This year’s Champion of Architecture was Maxine Griffith, Principal of Griffith Planning & Design. Prior to founding her firm in 2020, Griffith was Senior Advisor to the President & Executive Vice President at Columbia University. “Maxine has had an amazing career, but it’s been her impact on the built environment of New York City that we especially honor here today,” said AIANY 2022 President Andrea Lamberti, AIA. “She helped lead the planning for Columbia University’s award-winning Manhattanville expansion, establishing a 17-acre Special Academic Mixed-Use District and a 22-building plan for the new campus.”
In her acceptance speech, Griffith explained how she left the architecture profession shortly after grad school, after realizing that decisions about redevelopment, land use, zoning, and finance were often being made before the architects came into the room. Although she lamented leaving her community of designers, she realized that she had not actually severed ties with the profession. “I find that we are not adjacent professions; we are professionals in a continuum. And in this very dangerous period—where I plan for and you design the library, and then the books are burned, or where you design the school and words are banned—in this atmosphere, we have to coalesce so we can be more impactful—to speak up, to reach beyond traditional boundaries, perhaps beyond comfort. In our work, I believe we can and must address the issues of the day: a good place for everyone to live, regardless of income, environmental sustainability, resiliency, and justice—stamping out racism and bigotry in all of its many forms—and on and on.”
Following Griffith, AIANY presented 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. The award’s previous namesake, Steve Kliment, was an architect, editor and journalist who served as editor-in-chief of Architectural Record from 1990 to 1996, and later served as editorial director of Oculus magazine. This year, the Architecture in Media Award was conferred on Urban Omnibus, the Architectural League’s online publication dedicated to observing, understanding, and shaping the city. Since 2009, Urban Omnibus has raised new questions, illuminated diverse perspectives, and documented projects that advance the collective work of city-making.
Editor-in-chief Mariana Mogilevich and managing editor Joshua McWhirter accepted the award on behalf of the publication team. In her acceptance speech, Mogilevich spoke about the generous mission set out by Rosalie Genevro about 15 years ago, of “chronicling and contributing in our way to the collective work of city-making here, especially by working to amplify the stories, and voices, and projects that might not find space elsewhere.” She continued, “We were just…saying that we frequently have to pinch ourselves that we actually get to do this work and that this is our mission as a publication, given the perilous state of media, both local and architectural and in general. We are just so grateful that our readers continue to find value and inspiration in what we share and for our supporters and funders, first and foremost the members and supporters of the Architectural League.”
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 Deem Journal, a Los Angeles-based biannual print publication and online platform that positions design as a social practice. In doing so, the journal allows for non-traditional designers to identify with the field, expanding the consciousness of design as a complex, lived experience accessible to an array of audiences across disciplines.
In his acceptance speech, co-founder Nu Goteh spoke about the journal’s inception, which was based in a desire to move conversations about design away from output and towards process: “In process, there is actually so much you can learn, so much you can adapt, that you can adopt, and so many other people can be included when the process of design is the process of adding value.” Goteh ended his speech with a series of questions for the audience of architects and builders: “What does it mean to design for dignity? And, especially sitting in a room of architects, what does it mean to create spaces that create dignity, that make people feel dignified, that make people feel affirmed, but not just doing that for people but moving from a space of designer and creator to a space of facilitator? What does it mean to create spaces for people to be able to see themselves and see their power?”
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 Tsao & McKown. After listing some of the firm’s many achievements, Lamberti expressed the impact of the firm’s founders on NYC’s architecture community: “Calvin and Zack have been treasured members of our New York City architecture community for many years. Countless people here in this room have worked with them, and their collaborative approach and joie de vivre has influenced many of us. Their commitment to our civic organizations, like the Architectural League, Center for Architecture, and others, has been steadfast. They are a valuable and much-loved part of what makes New York City such a special place to practice.”
In their shared remarks, Calvin Tsao and Zack McKown both spoke to the aspirations of architecture. “There are no boundaries—graphic design, theater, music, social work—it is all part of our territory; to embrace, to understand to, convene, to find congruence,” said Tsao. “It is our job to create the world, but, paradoxically, architects are probably not doing the environment a lot of good. So how can we actually not just build, but repair, not just support but take charge? We need to understand what’s going on around us and address the issues of our world— economic disparities, social injustice, racial tensions, political volatility, and environmental degradation. How do we take these things seriously? Looking at these [Design Awards] projects gives me hope. We are thinking about these issues. We are thinking about beauty with new eyes and new concerns. I am so heartened to be here today with 700 of my colleagues and to stand up here and encourage all of us to be that community that we want to be. Let’s make this fluctuating world a better place.
Thank you to all our members and supporters who helped made our first in-person Luncheon since the pandemic such a success! And don’t miss our 2022 AIANY Design Awards exhibition at the Center for Architecture, now on view through June 11.