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Murcutt Wins AIA Gold Medal

December 4, 2008

By Anya Kaplan-Seem

The American Institute of Architects announced today that Glenn Marcus Murcutt, Hon. FAIA, is the winner of its 2009 Gold Medal, one of the highest honors awarded in the profession. In addition, Olson Sundberg Kundig Allen Architects will receive the association’s 2009 Firm of the Year Award, which recognizes a practice that has “consistently produced distinguished architecture for at least 10 years.” Adele Naudé Santos, FAIA, will be honored with the 2009 Topaz Medallion for Excellence in Architectural Education, given by the AIA and the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture. All three of the prize recipients demonstrate rigorous sensitivity toward the natural environment, both in their philosophies and in their work.

Born in 1936 and raised in New Guinea, Murcutt has practiced exclusively in Australia, where he founded his one-man firm in 1970. Though all located on a single continent, Murcutt’s ecologically sensitive home designs, which combine an interest in Modernism with local materials and an indigenous aesthetic, have influenced architects around the world. The winner of the 2002 Pritzker Architecture Prize, Glenn Murcutt will be the 65th AIA Gold Medalist.

Olson Sundberg Kundig Allen Architects, a six-partner firm based in Seattle, is known for a collaborative and hands-on approach to design and a belief in the potential of architecture to positively influence people’s lives. Jim Olsen founded the firm in 1971; Rick Sundberg joined in 1975; Tom Kundig and Scott Allen followed in 2000. Kristen Murray and Alan Maskin became principals this year.  Among the firm’s many lauded projects are The Delta Shelter in Washington State, Chicken Point Cabin in Northern Idaho, and the Frye Art Museum in Seattle.

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Since 2004, Adele Santos has served as dean of the School of Architecture and Planning at MIT while also continuing her San Francisco-based practice, Santos Prescott and Associates.  She has taught at universities around the country, including most recently the University of California, Berkeley, College of Environmental Design. “During my entire career, I have combined teaching and practice,” she said in a prepared statement. “There has always been a cross-fertilization between the two, and, at their best, both teaching and practice have been a form of research.” Her practice is known for its holistic approach, and her academic work for its interdisciplinary attitude.

Murcutt and Olson Sundberg Kundig Allen Architects will receive their awards in February at the American Architectural Foundation’s “Accent on Architecture” gala. Santos will receive her medallion in March at the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture annual meeting.

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