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AIA Hands Out More Major Awards

McMinn wins Topaz Medallion

In December, the AIA and the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA) announced that William McMinn, FAIA, would receive its 2006 Topaz Medallion for Excellence in Architectural Education. McMinn, 74, is best known as the founding dean of the architecture program at Florida International University. McMinn achieved full accreditation for the department from the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB), and changed its status to a school of architecture in 1997. He was also responsible for shepherding the competition for a new school of architecture building, won by Bernard Tschumi.

Other career milestones include his services as dean of the College of Architecture, Art and Planning at Cornell and as NAAB president. He also established architecture programs in Jordan and Saudi Arabia.

Thorncrown Chapel Given 25 Year Award

Thorncrown Chapel, designed by E. Fay Jones is this year’s recipient of the AIA 25 Year Award, which recognizes designs that have endured for at least 25 years. The building is considered the most famous work by Jones, a highly-regarded student of Frank Lloyd Wright. Located in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, the structure rises from a flagstone wall that nestles into an Ozark hillside. A rhythmic series of diamonds appears in a system of cross-lattice wooden members overhead, which are a counterpoint to the attenuated volume. These trusses also recall the intertwined tree branches viewed through the chapel’s 425 windows.

This latest acknowledgement comes posthumously for Jones, who passed away last year at age 83 [Record, October 2004, p. 31]. Jim Reed, the minister who commissioned the work, died in 1985. Reed’s son, Doug, now presides over the chapel. He says, “Fay said that when he was designing Thorncrown, he set out to build a place where people come to think their best thoughts. This chapel is a testimony to the power of architecture to touch the human soul…and hard to take for granted.”

David Sokol