The American Academy of Arts and Letters has announced the recipients of its 2017 architecture awards. Intended to honor architects whose work is characterized by a strong personal direction, this year's winners were chosen from a group of 27 individuals and practices nominated by members of the Academy. On the jury, were Elizabeth Diller, Henry N. Cobb, Peter Eisenman, Kenneth Frampton, Hugh Hardy, Steven Holl, Thom Mayne, James Polshek, Robert A.M. Stern, Billie Tsien, and Tod Williams.
The top prize, the Arnold W. Brunner Memorial Prize in Architecture, is given to a preeminent architect from any country who has made a significant contribution to architecture as art. The 2017 recipient is Diébédo Francis Kéré, who is having quite the year. He was recently announced as this years designer of the Serpentine Pavilion as well. Kéré is known for his socially driven and sustainable approach to architecture. Based in Berlin and Gando, his hometown in Burkina Faso, Kéré has brought his compelling designs to multiple continents. Juror Billie Tsien said Kéré "is an alchemist, working with local materials and technology - mud and hand labor - he has designed buildings of meaning and beauty" and has developed "an elegant and resourceful language of building."
Along with the Brunner Memorial Prize, the American Academy offers four Arts and Letters Awards in Architecture, which will be presented to the following: Theaster Gates, known for his long-running work of social practice in the South Side of Chicago with the Rebuild Foundation; Paul Goldberger, Pulitzer-Prize winning architectural critic and Frank Gehry-biographer; Walter Hood, known for his work as urbanist and landscape architect; and John Ronan, Chicago-based architect known for the Poetry Foundation building.
The awards will be presented in New York City in May at the Academy's annual Ceremonial. Work by the winners will be featured in the Exhibition of Works by Newly Elected Members and Recipients of Honors and Awards, on view in the Academy's galleries on Audubon Terrace.