The gold medal is the top award presented annually by the American Institute of Architects (AIA) to a professional whose work has had a lasting influence on the theory and practice of architecture. Since the gold medal was established in 1947, the AIA has honoured the work of important architects from all over the world with the award, from such historic masters of the Modernist movement as Frank Lloyd Wright, Walter Gropius, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, and Le Corbusier to such well-known and popular contemporary architects as Norman Foster, Frank Gehry, Tadao Ando, Renzo Piano, Denise Scott Brown and Robert Venturi, and Richard Rogers, to mention only a few.
The winner of the 2021 Gold Medal was announced on December 8: architect Edward Mazria, founder of the non-profit organisation Architecture 2030, committed to fighting climate change.
Born in New York in 1940, Edward Mazria graduated with a degree in architecture from Brooklyn’s Pratt Institute in 1963. He then spent two years with the Peace Corps in Peru, an important experience that helped him develop his vision of architecture as an essential key to the improvement of society and the environment. Back in the United States, Edward Mazria worked in the studio of 2007 AIA Gold Medal winning architect Edward Larrabee Barnes, where he developed a sober place-based approach to architecture. In 1973 he began his research in architecture and renewable energy at the University of New Mexico, continuing his career teaching at the University of Oregon. His research into sustainable architecture making use of passive heating, cooling and lighting methods is described in the book The Passive Solar Energy, a true milestone on the subject which has been translated into five languages and sold more than a million copies worldwide.
Edward Mazria has applied the findings of his research in such iconic projects as the Stockebrand Residence, the Museum of Indian Arts & Culture and Sol y Sombra, the famous ranch in Santa Fe, New Mexico that belonged to well-known American painter Georgia O'Keefe. In 2006 he closed Mazria Associates, Inc., the studio he founded in 1978 and with which he had developed important award-winning projects, to dedicate himself full-time to Architecture 2030, an experience he began with volunteer work in 2002 and which went on to become a non-profit organisation in its own right. Through this organisation architect Edward Mazria developed real solutions to twenty-first century problems and had major impact on architecture, also through initiatives developed with the AIA regarding sustainability and environmental management, resulting in changes to the institution’s own Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct. At the international level, with Architecture 2030 Edward Mazria developed a "Roadmap to Zero Emissions ", an important document complete with figures and good practices for zero-emissions constructions which was presented at the 21st UNFCCC Conference of the Parties which led to the Paris Agreement for limiting the increase in global warming.
Images courtesy of American Institute of Architects (AIA), photo by: (01) Design Workshop, (02) Jamey Stillings, (03) Kirk Gittings, (04) Robert Reck, (05) Richard Rush
Rio Grande Botanic Garden Conservatory photo by Design Workshop,
Edward Mazria photo by Jamey Stillings,
Sol y Sombra photo by Kirk Gittings
Museum of Indian Arts and Culture Santa Fe - New Mexico photo by Robert Reck
Stockebrand Residence Albuquerque, New Mexico photo by Richard Rush