The Australian Institute of Architects have awarded the 2019 Gold Medal to Santa Monica-based Australian expatriates Hank Koning and Julie Eizenberg of Koning Eizenberg Architecture. As the Institute’s highest honour, the Gold Medal was awarded to acknowledge the firm's commitment to affordable housing, education and civic projects, and to tirelessly fighting to improve the situation of underprivileged communities.
The Gold Medal is bestowed to architects who have designed or executed buildings of high merit or have produced distinctive, influential work that has advanced the architectural profession. As the Institute noted, Julie and Hank “have continuously sought to change the nature of the world. They do this by actively challenging the planning process through their engagement with authorities and the community to make better outcomes than the existing regulations and methods have typically allowed. In this way, the legacy of their projects lies not just in the bricks and mortar of the buildings themselves, but also in the hearts and minds of all those involved in making sure the lessons learnt extend beyond the property boundaries.”
After finishing their graduate architecture studies at UCLA, Koning and Eizenberg founded their practice in 1981. The Gold Medal jury praised them for producing “work of dignity underpinned by an egalitarian generosity of light, scale and air – all imbued with Australian congeniality and wit”. They noted the firm's early adoption of applying sustainable practices to their projects.
The pair have advanced the profession not only through architectural commissions, but also through education and advocacy. Eizenberg has taught and lectured at Yale, Harvard, MIT, UCLA, SCI-Arc, Tulane University and the University of Melbourne. Hank Koning has been a committee member of the Australian Institute of Architects' International Chapter since 2010, including serving as Chair. The practice has won a number of awards, including the Jørn Utzon Award for International Architecture for the Pico Branch Library, the American Institute of Architects’ Los Angeles Gold Medal, and a Chicago Athenaeum American Architecture Award for the Belmar Apartments.
“The legacy of their projects lies not just in the bricks and mortar of the buildings themselves, but also in the hearts and minds of all those involved in making sure the lessons learnt extend beyond the property boundaries,” the jury added. “[...] it is this design talent combined with a long-term ethical investment in designing for underprivileged communities, and showing the value of this endeavor for all concerned, that make Hank Koning and Julie Eizenberg most worthy recipients of the 2019 Gold Medal.”
Clare Cousins FRAIA (Chair) – President, Australian Institute of Architects | Director, Clare Cousins Architects
Richard Kirk LFRAIA – Immediate Past President, Australian Institute of Architects | Director, Kirk
Peter Elliott AM LFRAIA – 2017 Gold Medalist | Principal, Peter Elliott Architecture + Urban Design
Emma Williamson RAIA – Principal, TheFulcrum.Agency
Kerry Clare LFRAIA – 2010 Gold Medallist (with Lindsay Clare) | Director, Clare Design