Kicking off a robust lineup of Archtober-adjacent events in New York City last night was the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum’s announcement of the recipients of the 2020 National Design Awards. The winners of the prestigious annual award were conferred by the museum at a virtual gala hosted by interior designer and television personality Bobby Berk. In addition to marking the beginning of the five-borough-centric Archtober, the gala also began the Cooper Hewitt’s National Design Month, a previously week-long celebration centered around the awards that features free online lectures, tours, workshops, and more. The National Design Awards program is now in its 20th year.
The 2020 National Design Award was granted in nine different categories. This year’s recipients in each category were:
- Kickstarter (Design Visionary)
- Sponge Park (Climate Action)
- Studio One Eighty Nine (Emerging Designer)
- Snøhetta (Architecture)
- Scott Dadich (Communication Design)
- Design I/O (Digital Design)
- TELFAR (Fashion Design)
- OJB Landscape Architecture (Landscape Architecture)
- Catapult Design (Product Design)
“From shaping our parks and buildings to transforming the creative infrastructure and the ways we tell our stories, the remarkable work of this year’s winners demonstrates the power of design in everyday life,” said John Davis, interim director of the Cooper Hewitt, in a statement. “The virtual gala welcomed viewers from around the world and launched the first of a suite of programs during National Design Month aimed at broadening access to the vision of these leading designers and connecting people of all ages with the importance of design.”
The 2020 National Design Awards jury included: Sigi Ahl, creative director at Eileen Fisher Waste No More; Angela Brooks, principal at Brooks + Scarpa Architects; Shane Coen, founder of Coen + Partners; Arem Duplessis, group creative director, Apple; Ben Ebel, Experience Design for Michelin North America; Toni L. Griffin, principal and founder of Urban American City, and Jae Park, vice president, G Suite UX Design, Google.
Despite the gala’s change in format and formidable challenges faced of the past year, the recipients of this year’s awards were no less celebratory in response to being granted the prestigious honor. Winner OJB Landscape Architecture, a landscape architecture and urban planning practice that maintains offices in San Diego, Boston, Houston, Dallas, and Philadelphia, released a statement where founder Jim Burnett noted: “I believe landscape has the power to transform cities and strengthen communities, and that now, more than ever, we have a responsibility to address issues of access, equity, and health in our shared public spaces.
“This award from Cooper Hewitt is especially meaningful because it affirms the power of design, and that is what our practice is about—a steadfast belief that design can, and should, change the world,” Burnett added.
While they haven’t changed the entire world per se, notable OJB projects such as the freeway-capping Klyde Warren Park in Dallas, Levy Park in Houston, and Chicago’s Park at Lakeshore East have yielded community-benefitting and connectivity-bolstering change in the respective cities where these visionary landscapes are located.
Similarly, on the park front, Sponge Park, a stormwater runoff-absorbing work of green infrastructure completed in the Gowanus section of Brooklyn in 2016, received the inaugural Climate Action Award. DLANDstudio, an interdisciplinary design firm founded in 2005 by Susannah C. Drake, is the designer of the multitasking open public space that’s helped to clean and revive the Gowanus Canal, a notoriously fetid urban waterway that’s enjoyed a dramatic rebound in recent years.
The granting of the National Design Award in Architecture to Snøhetta marks another major recent achievement for the prolific firm, which maintains head offices in Oslo, Norway, and New York City. Last month, the firm’s design was also selected for the upcoming Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library in North Dakota.
Learn more about the diverse and remarkable achievements of all the 2020 awardees here.