Each year the Vilcek Foundation selects American immigrant champions of the arts and sciences. This year the 2018 Vilcek Prize in Architecture was awarded to Guatemala-born, and now San Diego-based, professor and architect Teddy Cruz. Cruz uses his past experiences, living in Guatemala during its civil war, to focus his academic and professional career on shaping political and socioeconomic forces.
I didn’t want to have a conventional office of architecture where I would be designing boutique hotels or galleries or houses for the 1 percent, Cruz explains. I wanted to focus on the U.S.-Mexico border, working with communities affected by border conditions.
Much of the work Cruz does is influenced by his past academic research at SCI-Arc, Woodbury University and now at the University of California, San Diego, where he co-directs the UC San Diego Center on Global Justice with professor of political science, Fonna Forman. Cruz and Forman designed strategically located cross-border public spaces to educate marginalized communities.
It’s not just a place of beautification, but it’s a site of knowledge, Cruz said. It’s not enough to design the physical systems. We also need to design the political, civic, and economic processes that would enable those physical systems to be truly inclusive.
The Foundation will award $100,000 to Cruz for his successes. In addition, three younger immigrants were selected to receive the Vilcek Prizes for Creative Promise: Mona Ghandi, James Leng, and Jing Liu. All winners will be honored at the awards gala in New York City in April of this year.
Learn more about the prize winners here.