Architectural critic, historian and writer Joseph Rykwert, 86, has been named as the recipient of the 2014 RIBA Royal Gold Medal, one of the world’s most prestigious architecture awards. Given in recognition of a lifetime’s work, the Royal Gold Medal is approved personally by the Queen and is presented to a person or group of people who have had a significant influence on the advancement of architecture.
Describing Rykwert’s recognition as “long overdue,” RIBA President Stephen Hodder stated: “Joseph’s writing and teaching are rare in that he can deliver the most profound thinking on architecture in an accessible way. All our lives are the richer for it.”
In response to selection, Joseph Rykwert stated:
“What makes the [award] doubly precious is that it does not come from my fellow-scriveners, but from architects and builders – and suggests that what I have written has engaged their attention and been of use, even though I have never sought to be impartial but have taken sides, sometimes combatively. So I feel both elated and enormously grateful.”
Joseph Rykwert is a world-leading authority on the history of art and architecture; his groundbreaking ideas and work have had a major impact on the thinking of architects and designers since the 1960s and continue to do so to this day.
His seminal book The Idea of a Town (1963) remains the pivotal text on understanding why and how cities were and can be formed. He has written numerous influential works of architectural criticism and history, published over a sixty-year period and translated into several languages. The most significant of these are On Adam’s House in Paradise (1972), The First Moderns (1980), The Necessity of Artifice (1982), The Dancing Column: On Order in Architecture (1996), and The Seduction of Place (2002); all have changed the way modern architects and planners think about cities and buildings, and how historians view the architectural roots of the modern era.
Rykwert’s works have influenced generations of architects with many either having been taught by him directly or taught in a school where his influence has had a profound effect on a department’s teaching. Distinguished architects David Chipperfield, Frank Gehry and Renzo Piano are amongst the previous Royal Gold Medallists who have personally supported Joseph’s nomination.