Architecture is facing its own award-season controversy

Architecture is facing its own award-season controversy

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Architects, like journalists, are fond of giving themselves awards. Then there are the outside organizations — Pritzker, Curry Stone and Driehaus, to name three — whose main reason for being is to hand out design prizes. Nobody is interviewing architects on any red carpets, but the laurels pile up.

For the most part architecture's awards season proceeds with significantly less attention and controversy than Hollywood's. This year is a bit different, though, thanks to the announcement earlier this month that the American Institute of Architects would not be giving out a Twenty-Five Year Award for 2018.

The Twenty-Five Year Award is the most consistently surprising and meaningful award in architecture — one that architecture critics actually look forward to hearing about every year.

The award celebrates a building completed between 25 and 35 years ago — specifically, in the words of the AIA, one inventive or influential enough to "set a precedent." Sometimes it honors a complex of buildings: the first award, in 1969, went to Rockefeller Center. As long as it was designed by a firm licensed at the time to practice in the United States, the building can be located anywhere. Recent winners include Renzo Piano's Menil Collection gallery in Houston.

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