Contact: Cody Upton

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2015 Architecture Award Winners

March 31, 2015, New York, NY — The American Academy of Arts and Letters announces the recipients of its 2015 architecture awards. The Academy’s annual architecture awards program began in 1955 with the inauguration of the Brunner Prize and has since expanded to include four Arts and Letters Awards. This year’s winners were chosen from a group of 41 individuals and practices nominated by the members of the Academy. The jurors were: Henry N. Cobb, Elizabeth Diller (chairman), Peter Eisenman, Kenneth Frampton, Michael Graves, Richard Meier, Laurie Olin, Cesar Pelli, Billie Tsien, and Tod Williams.

The awards will be presented in New York City in May at the Academy’s annual Ceremonial. Work by the winners will be featured in an upcoming exhibition on view in the Academy’s galleries on Audubon Terrace.

SHEILA O’DONNELL & JOHN TUOMEY

Arnold W. Brunner Memorial Prize
$20,000 to an architect of any nationality who has made a significant contribution to architecture as an art.

YOLANDE DANIELS & SUNIL BALD
Arts and Letters Award in Architecture
$10,000 to American architects whose work is characterized by a strong personal direction.
KURT W. FORSTER
Arts and Letters Award in Architecture
$10,000 to an American who explores ideas in architecture through any medium of expression.
ROSALIE GENEVRO
Arts and Letters Award in Architecture
$10,000 to an American who explores ideas in architecture through any medium of expression.
KATE ORFF
Arts and Letters Award in Architecture
$10,000 to an American architect whose work is characterized by a strong personal direction.

Sheila O’Donnell & John Tuomey founded O’Donnell + Tuomey in 1988. They have built widely in Ireland, exhibited at the Venice Biennale, and received the 2015 Royal Gold Medal from the Royal Institute of British Architects. “The work of O’Donnell and Tuomey balances the hand and the heart,” said Billie Tsien. “When you enter their buildings you have a sense of comfort that comes from an architecture that treasures the intricacy and miracles of human interaction. Their buildings are beautifully conceived and beautifully made. Like reading the best poetry—they astound you in a quiet way.” Their projects include Glucksman Gallery, University College Cork, 2004; Sean O’Casey Community Centre, Dublin, 2008; Timberyard Social Housing, Dublin, 2009; Lyric Theatre, Belfast, 2011; and the London School of Economics Saw Swee Hock Students’ Centre, 2014. They are currently working on a master plan for the Central European University in Budapest. Both teach at the University College Dublin.

Yolande Daniels & Sunil Bald of Studio SUMO create architecture and design that is unexpected, innovative, and engaging while remaining responsive to social and cultural contexts. “Sumo wrestling requires a combination of weight and agility, and indeed their work carries these two characteristics,” said Billie Tsien. “There is always a sense of the weight of materials in what they do. Cast concrete is heavy and one feels its heaviness, even as it is made to twist and curve and bend. They are both committed teachers wedding the heft of their intelligence to the grace of their criticism.” Projects include Josai School of Management, Sakado, Japan, 2006; Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Art, Brooklyn, 2007; Mizuta Museum of Art, Sakado, Japan, 2012; Josai University International House, Togane, Japan, expected 2015. Mr. Bald teaches at Yale; Ms. Daniels at The New School.

Kurt W. Forster has published widely on the history of architecture. He was the founding director of the Getty Center for the History of Art and the Humanities, where he transformed a small museum library into a preeminent research institute and helped edit the Getty Center Publication Series. In 2004 he curated the architecture exhibition at the Venice Biennale. He has taught at Stanford, MIT, ETH Zurich, and is currently an emeritus visiting professor at Yale. “Kurt Forster’s contribution to architectural culture world-wide over the past quarter century has been without parallel, particularly with regard to the development of the long standing fertile exchange between Europe and the United States,” said Kenneth Frampton. “He is a figure of wide-ranging erudition and exceptional critical acumen.”

Rosalie Genevro is the executive director of the Architectural League of New York, an independent forum for architecture and its allied disciplines that seeks to create a more beautiful, vibrant, innovative, and sustainable future. “Quiet wisdom as well as consistent and powerful leadership are hallmarks of Rosalie’s 30 years as executive director,” said Tod Williams. “Under her guidance the League has dramatically increased its relevance, deploying research projects, creating conversation around important topics, celebrating local and international voices through lectures, exhibitions, and publications, and bringing to light young and emerging architectural and design talents. Rosalie has worked selflessly to help mobilize and bring attention to all who contribute to the wellbeing of our built environment.” Noteworthy projects include The Five Thousand Pound Life: Architecture, Climate Change, and Our Economic Future; Ten Shades of Green: Architecture and the Natural World; the online publication Urban Omnibus; and a series of design studies on issues confronting New York City, including “Vacant Lots,” “New Schools for New York,” and “The Productive Park.”

Kate Orff is the founder of SCAPE, a landscape architecture firm that combines research and practice to reimagine the ecological and cultural potential of the urban landscape. “The results,” said Laurie Olin, “have been life enhancing, educational, provocative, joyful, and fresh. Ranging from oysters and artificial reefs to children’s play, gardens, civic space, and environmental exposé, her work embraces form, flow, and energy. It is also beautiful.” SCAPE’s projects include Glen Oaks Branch Library, Queens, 2006; Oyster-Tecture, Rising Currents, MoMA, New York City, 2010; Petrochemical America: Project Room with Richard Misrach, Aperture Foundation, 2012; Town Branch Commons, Lexington, KY; Living Breakwaters, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, 2014 and ongoing; Waterworks Park, Minneapolis, MN; and resiliency planning in parks and plazas in the NY/NJ region. She teaches at Columbia.