In general, red carpet, the word “fun,” and architecture rarely go together — but it seems that’s about to change. Last night’s inaugural Architizer A+ Awards gala at Cedar Lake Studio saw the likes of Elizabeth Diller and Bjarke Ingels popping bottles of Perrier-Jouët in their gala best in honor of their colleagues, peers, and the smart set of architecture’s up-and-comers.
The awards ceremony perhaps marked a turning point in the way we perceive the architectural world. Architizer, the online editorial spin-off of New York architecture studio HWKN, launched the new annual event this year to recast the industry’s image as a relevant institution (surprisingly good at throwing a party), accessible to citizens beyond the staid followers of Frank Lloyd Wright.
“Frank Lloyd Wright’s amazing, but he’s been dead for 60 years,” Architizer founder and HWKN principal Marc Kushner said at the ceremony’s opening. “How could it be that a profession that designs every building, every museum, every hotel, every school, and every apartment in the whole entire world is so underappreciated that the first architect that pops into people’s minds built his last building six decades ago?”
In order to bring the industry up to speed, Kushner enlisted both a jury of 200 and the public at large to vote on 52 categories that recognize international architects and designers for achievements that range beyond creating very expensive buildings. Over the course of the night, while Richard Meier accepted the Lifetime Achievement award (via video) and Mikheil Saakashvili, president of Georgia (and progressive design fan), graced the stage to say hi, Mass Design Group, a Boston-based non-profit whose founders are barely in their 30s, took the Do Good Award for its humanitarian works in Africa, including Rwanda’s Butaro Hospital opened by the organization in 2011.
Iwan Baan, the photographer behind New York magazine’s now-iconic Hurricane Sandy cover, took the Relevancy Award for highlighting human engagement with architecture through his pictures. His acceptance speech aligned with the evening’s mission: “The purpose of my work was never to be just about buildings, but architecture and people and stories,” he said. “I try to document what happens when the architects and the planners have left and everyday life takes over.”
After that, it was off to the Boom Boom Room for more champagne.
To see the full list of all 87 winners, see the A+ website.