Bangladeshi architect Marina Tabassum; transdisciplinary designer and urbanist Justin Garrett Moore; AGENCY, a collaborative El Paso practice that has penned dispatches from the southern border for AN; and husband-wife principals of not one but two Los Angeles architecture firms, Koning Eizenberg Architecture and Oyler Wu Collaborative, are the winners of the 2021 Architecture Award bestowed by the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
The winners were selected from a group of 32 individuals and practices nominated by members of the Academy, a prestigious 122-year-old honor society based in New York City. The Academy’s inaugural Architecture Award was presented in 1955.
The $20,000 Arnold W. Brunner Memorial Prize, the Academy’s flagship architecture award first presented to Gordon Bunshaft, is conferred to an architect of any nationality who has “made a significant contribution to architecture as an art.” Additionally, two (sometimes three) Arts and Letters Awards are presented to American architects whose collective work is “characterized as having a strong personal direction, while two (sometimes one) Arts and Letters Awards are given to “American who explore ideas in architecture through any medium of expression.” The Arts and Letters Awards, always four in total, are for $10,000.
The winners of the 2021 Architecture Award, in full, are as follows:
Marina Tabassum, founder and principal of the Dhaka, Bangladesh-based Marina Tabassum Architects (Arnold W. Brunner Memorial Prize).
Julie Eizenberg and Hank Koning, founding principals of the Santa Monica, California-based architecture firm Koning Eizenberg Architecture (Arts and Letters Award for work characterized as having a strong personal direction).
Dwayne Oyler and Jenny Wu, founders of the Los Angeles-based architecture and design firm Oyler Wu Collaborative (Arts and Letters Award for work characterized as having a strong personal direction).
Justin Garrett Moore, a designer, educator, and urbanist who currently serves as program officer for the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s Humanities in Place program. Moore is also the CEO and director of UrbanPatch and former executive director of New York City’s Public Design Commission. (Arts and Letters Award for exploring ideas in architecture through any medium of expression.)
Ersela Kripa and Stephen Mueller, founders of AGENCY, an interdisciplinary practice based in El Paso, Texas, that engages “contemporary culture through architecture, urbanism, and advocacy.” (Arts and Letters Award for exploring ideas in architecture through any medium of expression.)
In 2020, the American Academy of Arts and Letters bestowed the Architecture Award to Jonathan Tate, founding principal of New Orleans-based architecture firm OJT (Office of Jonathan Tate), Brooklyn-based practice Bade Stageberg Cox, Princeton Architectural Press founder Kevin Lippert, and John Ochsendorf, a structural engineer, historian, and professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Nader Tehrani, dean of the Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture at Cooper Union and co-founding principal of Boston-based firm NADAAA, received the Arnold W. Brunner Memorial Prize.
The 2021 Architecture Award jury was composed of Annabelle Selldorf (chair), Kenneth Frampton, Steven Holl, Thom Mayne, Richard Meier, Toshiko Mori, Robert A. M. Stern, Billie Tsien, and Tod Williams. This year’s 29 new members, and four honorary members, who will be inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters during a May 19 virtual award ceremony include seven architects and landscape architects: Marlon Blackwell, James Corner, Kathryn Gustafson, Walter Hood, Nader Tehrani, Meejin Yoon, and Balkrishna Doshi as a foreign honorary member. Membership in the Academy is limited to 300 architects, visual artists, composers, and writers; they are elected for life and pay no dues.