Robert A.M. Stern Wins Driehaus Prize

December 14, 2010

By Laura Raskin

The University of Notre Dame School of Architecture announced today that Robert A.M. Stern has won the 2011 Richard H. Driehaus Prize for Classical Architecture.

Robert A.M. Stern Wins Driehaus Prize
Photo courtesy Robert A.M. Stern Architects, LLP
Stern has won the 2011 Driehaus Prize, which is bestowed by the University of Notre Dame School of Architecture.
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The annual award, established in 2003 by the university, recognizes architects and urban planners who spend their careers championing traditional design principles with sensitivity to region and context.

“Bob brought tradition into the mainstream of architecture, partly because he doesn’t focus on the purely ideological aspect of all forms,” says Michael Lykoudis, jury chairman and dean of the Notre Dame architecture school. Some dismiss classicism as simply an obsession with imperial Rome, but Stern dispels that idea, says Lykoudis. He points to the Stern-designed Comcast Center in Philadelphia as an example of a thoroughly modern building with classical allusions.

Stern, the founder and senior partner of an eponymous New York firm and dean of the Yale School of Architecture, says that classical principles have been under siege for more than a half a century, yet have managed to survive. “These principles have been too easily cast aside on the assumption that every day we must innovate a new architecture,” he says. “I do not believe that’s the case.” He adds that he was honored to join past Driehaus recipients in “carrying the banner for an architecture of measure and proportion.”

The Driehaus Prize is endowed by and named after a Chicago philanthropist. Previous laureates include Léon Krier, Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, Andrés Duany, and Abdel-Wahed El-Wakil.

In 1989, Notre Dame’s architecture school began incorporating classical principles into its undergraduate and graduate programs. The prize complements the program, says Lykoudis, by emphasizing the importance of repositioning classicism.

Stern will receive $200,000 and a model of the Choragic Monument of Lysicrates at a March 26, 2011, ceremony in Chicago.

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