Architect and University of Virginia professor W.G. Clark; architect and Harvard GSD professor Sean Canty; Kentucky-based architects Roberto de Leon and Ross Primmer; Amale Andraos and Dan Wood cofounders of the studio WORKac; and architecture critic and journalist Fred Bernstein, a regular AN contributor, are among the 2023 recipients of the Architecture Award bestowed by the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
Each year the Academy, founded in 1898 as an honor society, recognizes individuals in the fields of architecture, arts, and music, in addition to hosting arts-related programming. The annual architecture award began in 1955 with the Arnold W. Brunner Memorial Prize and now includes four Arts and Letters Awards presented to American architects and Americans who explore architecture through other mediums, including writing.
This year’s recipients were selected from a group of 36 individuals and practices nominated by the Academy’s members. Membership to the Academy is capped at 300 with individuals from various fields of art and performance. Once elected, members are part of the Academy for life and pay no dues.
The jury that ultimately decided on this year’s architecture recipients was led by architect Toshiko Mori and comprised Deborah Berke, Marlon Blackwell, Steven Holl, Annabelle Selldorf, Nader Tehrani, Billie Tsien, Tod Williams, and Meejin Yoon.
This year the Arnold W. Brunner Memorial Prize, the largest prize awarded by the Academy, recognized W. G. Clark. In addition to the honor Clark will receive a $20,000 sum. The four other Arts and Letters Awards are each in the amount of $10,000.
The winners of the 2023 Architecture Award are as follows:
W. G. Clark, an architect with a number of completed projects in Charleston, South Carolina and Virginia and the Edmund Schureman Campbell Professor of Architecture at the University of Virginia School of Architecture. (Arnold W. Brunner Memorial Prize)
Sean Canty, a founder of Studio Sean Canty, a cofounder of the architectural collective Office III, and Assistant Professor of Architecture at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. (Arts and Letters Award for work characterized as having a strong personal direction).
Roberto de Leon and Ross Primmer, founding principals of de Leon and Primmer Architecture Workshop, an architecture practice based in Louisville, Kentucky. (Arts and Letters Award for work characterized as having a strong personal direction).
Amale Andraos and Dan Wood, cofounders of New York City–based architecture and design firm WORKac. (Arts and Letters Award for work characterized as having a strong personal direction).
Fred Bernstein, architecture critic and journalist. (Arts and Letters Award for exploring ideas in architecture through any medium of expression.)
In a statement shared with friends and loved ones following the announcement, Bernstein wrote:
The last thing I remember winning was a National Merit Scholarship in high school. And that was a lifetime ago. So I was thrilled to learn that I will be receiving another national award, this time from the American Academy of Arts & Letters, on May 24. Every year the AAAL gives an award to someone who has made a contribution to the architecture world in a medium other than architecture. Over the years the award has gone to the Pulitzer Prize-winning critic Paul Goldberger, the artist Theaster Gates, the MoMA curator Barry Bergdoll, and many other people I look up to.
Having changed careers too many times, I came to full-time architecture writing late. But in the last few years I have made a concerted effort to write about things that matter, including what really makes buildings sustainable. The prominent architects who chose me for this award have read my work and found it worthy. I am excited and humbled.
In 2022, the American Academy of Arts and Letters bestowed the Architecture Award to Catalan architect Carme Pinós; Anthony Titus; Sharon Johnston and Mark Lee of Johnston Marklee; Florian Idenburg and Jing Liu of SO – IL; and Antón García-Abril and Débora Mesa of Ensamble Studio.