Why We Can Thank Gehry, Graves, and Scott Brown for Julia Morgan’s AIA Gold Medal Win

Julia Morgan is the eighth posthumous winner of the Gold Medal, which has been issued since 1907. Image Courtesy of The Chronicle

Considering Julia Morgan was overlooked for over 100 years and has been dead for over 50, naysayers may consider her recent accolade as the first woman to receive the AIA Gold Medal something of an empty gesture. However, the prestigious group of supporters who compiled her nomination package – among them Michael GravesFrank Gehry, and Denise Scott Brown - would beg to differ. To find out how and why the trio championed Morgan’s case, check out this article on SFGate.

The Indicator: What the Julia Morgan AIA Gold Medal Says about Equality in Architecture

Interior of St. John’s Presbyterian Church in Berkeley, CA. Image © Mark Anthony Wilson

“Is the building really in charge of a woman architect?” I asked the foreman… The man read me a powerful sermon of just three short sentences, punctuated with the earnestness of a reform orator. “An architect’s an architect,” he said, “and you can count them all on the fingers of one hand. Now, this building is in charge of a real architect and her name happens to be Julia Morgan, but it might as well be John Morgan.”

Journalist in 1906 upon learning of Julia Morgan winning a new commission. (Courtesy Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Robert E. Kennedy Library)

The recent announcement that Julia Morgan has posthumously received the 2014 , the AIA’s top honor, while positive and inspirational, raises some important questions concerning the recognition and advancement of women in the profession. She is the first woman, living or dead, to receive the honor in the award’s 106-year history. From 1907 to 2012, all recipients have been men.

Julia Morgan Awarded 2014 AIA Gold Medal

, FAIA (1872-1957)

The American Institute of Architects () has announced today their decision to posthumously award the 2014 Gold Medal to Julia Morgan, FAIA (1872-1957), “whose extensive body of work has served as an inspiration to a generation of female architects.”

“Julia Morgan is unquestionably among the greatest American architects of all time and a true California gem,” said Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) in her recommendation letter. “Morgan’s legacy has only grown over the years. She was an architect of remarkable breadth, depth, and consistency of exceptional work, and she is widely known by the quality of her work by those who practice, teach, and appreciate architecture.”

Steven Holl awarded 2012 AIA Gold Medal

Steven Holl, photo © Mark Heitoff

The American Institute of Architects () Board of Directors has awarded Steven Holl, FAIA with the annual . The Gold Medal represents the highest award an architect may receive, honoring their “humanist approach to formal experimentation.” The world renowned architect and Columbia University professor continues to inspire and influence the practice and theory of architecture.

In a recommendation letter, Harry Cobb, FAIA, of Pei Cobb Freed stated, “What, in my view, especially commends him as a candidate for the Gold Medal is his brilliantly demonstrated capacity to join his refined design sensibility to a rigorously exploratory theoretical project.”

The AIA highlighted two of Holl’s projects – Linked Hybrid in Beijing and Vanke Center in Shenzhen – stating they are “emblematic of his approach to architecture and his innovative method of design inquiry.”

 “I am grateful, I am still beginning and I consider this award shared with all my collaborators. I feel this award is a positive advocacy to make theoretical explorations and experimental works. I was on the way to my final review at Columbia University when I received the call from Washington D.C. and felt it connected to my teaching and efforts toward education. I remember John Hejduk’s statement that teaching is a social contract, and I remain committed to teaching.”

- Steven Holl, FAIA

The award will be presented at the AIA Convention in Washington D.C. in May, 2012.

You can watch our interview with Steven Holl and see his projects here.

 

Fumihiko Maki 2011 AIA Gold Medal Winner

© Imogene Tudor

In recognition of his contributions to architecture in both theory and practice Fumihiko Maki was recently named the 2011 AIA Gold Medal Winner. Maki, arguably one of ’s most distinguished living architects, will be honored with the award in New Orleans at the AIA National Convention.

“He has a unique style of Modernism that is infused with an ephemeral quality and elegance which reflects his Japanese origin. What stands out most about Mr. Maki is the consistent quality of his work at the highest caliber and the creation of ineffable atmospheres; his buildings convey a quiet and elegant moment of reflection,” colleague Toshiko Mori, FAIA, said of Maki.

Also noteworthy is Fumihiko Maki’s close working relationship with each employee. Forty architects, urban planners, and administrative personnel, make up the staff of Maki and Associates, which is the type of working environment where each member is involved in and responsible for all aspects of projects. Maki himself is at the head of each commission and maintains the leadership role through to completion, including construction supervision. Established in 1965 Maki and Associates throughout its 42 years has been based in Tokyo, Japan. Maki studied at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design and Cranbrook Academy of Art, but has spent the majority of his life in Japan.

Examples of Maki’s work include:

The Spiral in Tokyo, Japan
The Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, California
The Kaze-No-Oka Crematorium in Kyushu, Japan
Triad in Nagano, Japan
The Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Maki is the 67th AIA Gold Medalist and joins a prestigious list including Frank Lloyd Wright, Louis Sullivan, Renzo Piano, I.M. Pei, Cesar Pelli, Santiago Calatrava and last year’s recipient, Peter Bohlin, FAIA.

He has received numerous awards including the Pritzker Architecture Prize in 1993.