Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Cambridge, MA


Designer Thomas Heatherwick Awarded 2020 Eugene McDermott Award in the Arts at MIT Award includes $100K prize, artist residency, gala and public program at MIT

By artsatmit
Oct 30, '19 3:06 PM EST

Cambridge, MA, USA, October 30, 2019 -- Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is pleased to announce that British designer Thomas Heatherwick is the recipient of the 2020 Eugene McDermott Award in the Arts at MIT. The $100K prize awarded at a gala in his honor also includes an artist residency at MIT in spring 2020, during which Heatherwick will present a keynote lecture about his body of work. Heatherwick’s high profile design projects include Vessel, the centerpiece for Hudson Yards, in Manhattan’s West Side; the award-winning UK Pavilion for the 2010 Shanghai World Expo; the Learning Hub at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University; Coal Drops Yard in London; and the under construction Google campuses in London and California (in collaboration with BIG).
Thomas Heatherwick’s remarks upon receiving the award: 
“As a designer I’ve always been interested in the design gaps in the public experience of the cities that surround us. So, it’s now an amazing honour to be the recipient of the Eugene McDermott Award in the Arts at MIT; such an extraordinary institution that champions creative problem-solving and connecting new ideas across disciplines and subjects within a community setting.”


The Eugene McDermott Award in the Arts at MIT recognizes innovative talents and is awarded to artists working in any field or cross-disciplinary activity. The $100,000 prize represents an investment in the recipient’s future creative work, rather than a prize for a particular project or lifetime of achievement. The official announcement was made at the Council for the Arts at MIT’s 47th annual meeting at MIT on October 29, 2019 and Heatherwick will be presented with the award at a gala in his honor on April 25, 2020. Past recipients include Audra McDonald, David Adjaye, Olafur Eliasson, Robert Lepage, Gustavo Dudamel, Bill Viola, Suzan Lori Parks and Santiago Calatrava, among others.

From MIT Associate Provost and Ford International Professor of History Philip S. Khoury:
“We look forward to welcoming Thomas Heatherwick to MIT and presenting him with MIT’s highest award in the arts. Our School of Architecture and Planning recently celebrated its centennial and has exciting plans for the future. Heatherwick’s exemplary practice will inspire students in the recently created undergraduate major in design, which recognizes the increasing importance of design across scales and multiple disciplines.”

Campus Residency and Public Programs
A distinctive feature of the Award is a short residency at MIT, which includes a public presentation of the artist’s work, substantial interaction with students and faculty, and a gala that convenes national and international leaders in the arts. The goal of the residency is to provide the recipient with unparalleled access to the creative energy and cutting-edge research at the Institute and to develop mutually enlightening relationships in the MIT community.

2020 Public Program by Thomas Heatherwick at MIT
Eugene McDermott Award in the Arts at MIT Keynote Lecture: Saturday, April 25, 2020
Further information about the public program will be posted at  

About the Eugene McDermott Award in the Arts
The Eugene McDermott Award in the Arts at MIT was established in 1974 by the Council for the Arts at MIT. The Award recognizes innovative talents in any arts discipline and offers its recipient a $100,000 cash prize and a campus residency. The selection process reflects MIT’s commitment to risk taking, problem solving, and the idea of connecting creative minds across disciplines. The Award honors Eugene McDermott, cofounder of Texas Instruments and long-time friend and benefactor of MIT.
About the Council for the Arts at MIT
The Council for the Arts at MIT is a volunteer group of alumni and friends who support the arts at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Since its founding in 1972 by MIT President Jerome B. Wiesner, the Council for the Arts at MIT has bestowed the award upon 37 individuals who work in performing, visual, and media arts, as well as authors, art historians, and patrons of the arts. Appointed by the President of MIT to three-year terms, Council members continuously fulfill their mission “to foster the arts at MIT and to act as a catalyst for the development of a broadly based, highly participatory program in the arts.

Past Recipients
2018: Audra McDonald, actress and singer
2016: David Adjaye, architect
2014: Olafur Eliasson, visual artist
2012: Robert Lepage, performance and media artist
2010: Gustavo Dudamel, conductor
2009: Bill Viola, visual artist
2006: Suzan Lori Parks, playwright/novelist
2005: Santiago Calatrava, engineer/architect
2004: Libby Larsen, composer
2003: Vinie Burrows, activist/actress/writer
2001: Isaac Julien, filmmaker
2000: CORE Ensemble
1999: Diller + Scofidio, architects
1998: Junot Díaz, author
1997: Toni Dove, video artist
1996: Kenny Leon, theater director
1995: Jeff Wall, photographer
1994: Tan Dun, composer
1993: Thomas Hanrahan & Victoria Meyers, architects
1992: Richard Preston, author
1991: Rebecca Purdum, artist
1990: Agnes Denes, artist
1989: Ida Ely Rubin, art historian
1988: Yulla Lipchitz, photographer
1986: Richard Leacock, filmmaker
1985: Harold E. Edgerton, photographer
1984: I.M. Pei, architect
1983: Albert R. Gurney, Jr., playwright
1982: Roy Lamson, arts administrator
1981: Henry Moore, sculptor
1980: Luis A. Ferre, arts patron
1979: Jerome B. Wiesner, President of MIT, arts patron
1978: Catherine N. Stratton, Founder, Council for the Arts, arts patron
1977: James R. Killian, Jr., President Emeritus, MIT
1976: Paul Tishman, Founder, Council for the Arts, arts patron
1975: Klaus Liepmann, conductor, founder of the music program at MIT
1974: György Kepes, artist, founder of the Center for Advanced Visual Studies at MIT (CAVS)
About Thomas Heatherwick

Thomas Heatherwick is a British designer whose prolific and varied work over two decades is characterized by its ingenuity, inventiveness and originality. Defying the conventional classification of design disciplines, he founded Heatherwick Studio in 1994 to bring the practices of design, architecture and urban planning together in a single workspace.

Thomas Heatherwick leads the design of all Heatherwick Studio projects, working in collaboration with a team of 200 highly-skilled architects, designers, and makers. Thomas’ unusual approach applies artistic thinking to the needs of each project, resulting in some of the most acclaimed designs of our time. Based in London, Heatherwick studio is currently working in four continents.

Following the success of the UK Pavilion for the Shanghai World Expo in 2010, Heatherwick Studio has gone on to win exciting design briefs including the Learning Hub at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University, the new Google campuses in London and California in collaboration with BIG (currently under construction), and a new terminal for Singapore’s Changi Airport in partnership with KPF. Heatherwick has been appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire, a Royal Academician and in 2004 became the youngest Royal Designer for Industry.

Media Contacts:
Leah Talatinian | Communications Manager, Arts at MIT | 617-253-5351 |
Gayle Mault | Communications Manager, Heatherwick Studio | +44 (0)20-7833-8800 |
For more information on the Eugene McDermott Award in the Arts at MIT, please visit
Watch a video about the announcement

Thomas Heatherwick is 2020 Recipient of the Eugene McDermott Award in the Arts at MIT