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July 8, 2020
by AIA New York

On Tuesday, July 7, AIANY held its first-ever virtual Honors and Awards Luncheon, celebrating architects, public servants, journalists, and organizations that are committed to design excellence in NYC. 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 featured moving and inspiring speeches by this year’s honorees, who called on the architecture profession to help build a better, more just future. Watch the video of the awards ceremony:

Architecture and design critic Alexandra Lange received the event’s first award, the Stephen A. Kliment Oculus Award, which honors an individual’s influence on the practice of architecture. In her speech, Lange spoke about the importance of criticism, reminding audiences that no profession can stand on its own without an active critical community. Lange also discussed how our narratives on the built environment will change as a result of the Black Lives Matter protests, which have forced us to think about how our streets can be designed with greater equity. “I really don’t like making future predictions,” said Lange, “but I do know that there is no going back to the way things were before…future urban criticism will have to absorb lessons from the ways that the city has been used in the past months and also from the more diverse voices who have spoken up about some ways in which history, public planning, and criticism have failed them in the past.”

AIANY’s Award of Merit, which celebrates a non-professional for contributions to the profession, went to Gregory Wessner, Hon. AIANY, Executive Director of Open House New York. While Wessner acknowledged that the architectural profession is an enormously imperfect system, he voiced a strong belief in architecture as a tool to make the world a better place. At OHNY, he has seen firsthand the power of places and buildings, noting that “the spaces in which we act out our lives…are as fundamental and necessary to our humanity as the food we eat and the clean air we breathe.” He then called on architects to work together to determine what kind of city we want to live in:“Use your voice and power, to the extent that you can, to make this a better city for everyone. What a better city means and what it looks like, that is what we need to begin talking about, openly and with full transparency. There is nothing that is more important than this.”

The program’s third award went to Snøhetta, the recipient of this year’s Medal of Honor, the Chapter’s highest distinction, conferred on an architect or architecture firm for a distinguished body of work and high professional standing. The medal was accepted by partners Craig Dykers, FAIA, LEED AP, and Elaine Molinar, who spoke about the firm’s commitment to social and environmental issues, both through their design work and their practice. Dedicating their award to a better future, Dykers and Molinar finished their acceptance speech with an invitation to the audience: “We look forward to working alongside many of you to push against the stereotypes that are so often created by our profession. We look forward to a future where diversity is the norm.”

Congratulations to our three honorees, as well as the 35 winners of the AIANY Design Awards, including Best in Competition, Glenstone by Thomas Phifer and Partners, who were also feted at the luncheon!


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