Mon, Feb 10, 2014
Centre for Canadian Architecture, Montréal
Wiel Arets, Dean, IIT College of Architecture
Dirk Denison, Director, MCHAP
Kenneth Frampton, Ware Professor of Architecture, GSAPP, Columbia University, New York
Phyllis Lambert, Founding Director, Canadian Centre for Architecture, Montréal
Vedran Mimica, Associate Dean of Research, IIT College of Architecture
Mirko Zardini, Executive Director and Chief Curator, Canadian Centre for Architecture, Montréal
The College of Architecture at Illinois Institute of Technology announces the establishment of the Americas Prize to recognize the most distinguished architectural works built on the North and South American continents.
The Prize will be awarded biennially within the masterpiece of S. R. Crown Hall, the organization’s Chicago-based laboratory and mission control center. The recipients of this new prize will be named by a jury of professional architects, curators, writers, editors, and other individuals whose work has had a lasting influence on the theory and practice of design.
It will be twofold in nature: it will recognize pre-eminence in architecture while additionally awarding a member of the profession’s younger generation, by way of the Americas Prize for Emerging Architecture, that harnesses the talent and ambition needed to devise and bring forth a truly outstanding first / early built work.
The Jury will be holistic in their approach to the honoring of exceptional works, as defined by the discourse that enabled their conception, construction, and fruition.
Architecture is for people; it is strengthened by their presence. Thus as the world’s cities continue their current expansion of population, it’s the research into the rethinking of these metropolises that will lead to our unraveling, and deeper understanding, of their intensified urban living conditions.
The two continents of the Americas bear a history rooted in discovery, invention, and innovation: a culture initially formed by adapting or drawing upon European, African, and Asian influences. The American continents have long ago come of age and this award seeks to build—through a global dissemination of its results—a global platform that will engage students, academics, and professionals alike. The Americas Prize hopes to inspire practitioners to excellence and nurture an impassioned exchange of ideas. Only in this way can we advance our species and its many cultures; only in this way can we step into an unpredictable future with both confidence and optimism.
Wiel Arets, Dean,
College of Architecture,
Illinois Institute of
Because the practice of architecture today stands at a threshold—the brink between the premises of the 20th century and our rapidly changing living conditions—we feel compelled to gather our forces and embark upon a conversation. It is a dialogue inclining more toward practice than toward theory, one directed more toward the future than toward the past. And in recognizing the enormity of the issues confronting the global community today, the exchange is one that will challenge the depth of our understanding as well as our internal fortitude. It is with this aspiration that we announce the founding of the Americas Prize, hosted by the College of Architecture at Illinois Institute of Technology.
Architectural prizes are generally awarded to those who achieve excellence within the field of design. We accept this definition, but it occurs to us that we must insist upon something more. We live in a revolutionary age, one in which the metropolis in its many forms now houses the majority of the world’s population. Our communication systems move at ever-greater speeds while local economies are merging inter-continentally into a vast commercial network. Our living habits are undergoing generational shifts and rapid cultural change. The world today has been radically reconstituted from that of even a quarter-of-a-century ago, and architects are being called upon to respond. Design premises need to be reexamined.
The Americas Prize will laud those built works that recognize the altered circumstances of the human condition. It will honor those projects that consider how we might elevate the quality of our built environments by extending our interests beyond the proverbial four walls. It will endorse those who acknowledge the interdisciplinary nature of our new ventures. Above all, it will recognize those who have invested their work with the mystery and power of human imagination. The objective is to reward the daring contemplation of the intersection of the new metropolis and human ecology.
The awarding of the Prize is not the end, but only the beginning of the event. It is the ensuing dialogue among designers, scholars, and urban thinkers that is the objective of the commendation. In this light, we hope to build a bridge between students, curricula, and professional practice.
We proffer such a hope with the recognition that many things are beyond our control. In viewing the complexity of the issues before us today, we have grown accustomed to feeling puny, and rightfully so. Nevertheless, the scale of what we seek for answers is not the determining factor. We must recall that only a few generations ago someone imagined the Doric column, perfected the formula for porcelain, experimented with the rib arch, and envisioned an orbiting satellite—all of which have radically altered our living conditions and expectations. It is our task today to imagine the elements of the future metropolis. The purpose of the Americas Prize is to ponder the settings of the architectural stage upon which the future of humanity will play out.
Mies Crown Hall
The Americas Prize is awarded to the best architectural work in the Americas completed in the preceding two years. The authors of the winning project receive an award of $50,000 USD and the MCHAP Chair at Illinois Institute of Technology for the following academic year. The MCHAP Chair(s) will establish research related to the theme of ‘rethinking the metropolis,’ will give a public lecture as part of the IIT College of Architecture’s lecture series, and engage in other agreed upon forms of academic research. The Americas Prize is announced at the Prize Ceremony in the fall of the award year.
The MCHAP Book will feature the Americas Prize Winner, in addition to the Finalists, the Americas Prize for Emerging Architecture Winner, and the Outstanding Projects recognized by the Jury. Through a series of diverse essays and articles, the book will highlight the architectural perspective that challenges the limits of the profession. The Americas Prize Winner will be profiled internationally in print, film and digital media.
The Americas Prize for Emerging Architecture is awarded to an outstanding built work in the Americas by an emerging practice completed within the preceding two years. The authors of the winning project receive an award of $25,000 USD and the MCHAP Research Professorship at Illinois Institute of Technology for the following academic year, where they will lead a studio related to ‘rethinking metropolis’. The Americas Prize for Emerging Architecture is announced at the Benefit Ceremony in the spring of the award year.
In addition to being featured in the MCHAP Book, the Americas Prize for Emerging Architecture Winner will receive a monograph focusing on their award-winning work.
The Americas Prize is a collective project with Illinois Institute of Technology College of Architecture at its core. From its inception, the Prize will aim to develop a network amongst the far reaches of the Americas, fostering a larger international dialogue. The organizational network will be expanded with each Prize cycle and includes a Board of Directors, and Advisory Committee, a Chicago Committee, and IIT Faculty Advisory Committee, Jurors, and independent Nominators.
Board of Directors
The Board of Directors is formed of appointed members who jointly oversee the activities of the Americas Prize. They will also be entrusted with establishing board policies and objectives and ensuring the availability of adequate financial resources for the Prize.
The Advisory Committee will consist of individuals possessing unique knowledge and skills complementing those of the Board of Directors. It will involve itself with determining criteria, defining the mission and purpose of the Prize, and articulating the goals for ensuring effective planning.
A special Chicago Committee will serve as an advocate for the Prize within the Chicago community. It will gather input from relevant constituencies, provide feedback and technical expertise, and assist in planning activities related to city programs.
The Faculty Advisory Committee, drawn from the IIT faculty, will provide additional guidance and direction to the Prize program. They will also contribute to defining the mission and goals of the program.
The Jury will consist of five internationally esteemed professionals, with one individual appointed as Chair; plus the Americas Prize Director as a non-voting member.
Nominators for the Prize are individuals whose work has had a lasting influence on the theory and practice of architecture within the territories of the Americas.
Nominations for the two awards will be put forward anonymously by the group of Nominators. For the Americas Prize, each Nominator will be asked to propose a maximum of five projects that represent the best projects realized in the Americas over the previous two years. Additionally, the Nominators will be requested to submit one built work for consideration for the Americas Prize for Emerging Architecture. All nominations will be due in January of the awarding year.
Following the nomination process, the individuals or offices, referred to as Authors, will be requested to submit a dossier on their project. The submission requirements will be standardized for all entries.
The Jury will hold its first session in the early spring and review the nominations for both awards. At the conclusion of the session, the Jury will announce the five finalists for the Americas Prize, as well as the winner for the Americas Prize for Emerging Architecture; the latter of which will be presented at the Benefit Ceremony held later in the spring.
The second Jury session will be held in the summer, with visits to each of the five finalist projects and meetings with the respective Authors and Clients. The IIT College of Architecture will host the Americas Prize Ceremony in the fall. This multi-day symposium will include presentations from the Authors of each of the five finalists and a final Jury debate, culminating in the awarding of the Americas Prize.
The Americas Prize process will be presented through print, film, and digital media. The two publications emanating from this process will also be seen as important research documents. The MCHAP Book will present not only the Jury deliberations of the selection process (Americas Prize Winner and four additional Finalists, Americas Prize for Emerging Architecture Winner, and other Outstanding Projects), but will also serve as a forum for the questions raised by the project and its importance within a larger intellectual context. A monograph will be published on the work acknowledged in the Americas Prize for Emerging Architecture. Additional research developed as a result of the MCHAP Research Fellowship will be the subject of subsequent publications.
Nominations for works to be considered for both categories are not defined, nor limited, by scale or program.
The Americas Prize and the Americas Prize for Emerging Architecture will be granted to architectural works built in the Americas. Authors of the built work do not need to be domestic to the Americas.
Nominations for the first award cycle are open to all works completed between January 2000 and December 2013. Nominations for subsequent award cycles are open to all works completed before the end of the year preceding the awarding of each biennial prize (eg. for 2016 Americas Prize: January 2014 through December 2015).
The Americas Prize Board of Directors will appoint the Jury, consisting of five external members and the Americas Prize Director as a non-voting member.
Author submissions must clearly respect full authorship, and all Authors must sign the submission material. Awards will be made based on this allocation.
Authors presenting work for consideration will commit to the expectations of the MCHAP Research Fellowship and MCHAP Professorship at IIT.