Kathryn Gustafson, director of Seattle landscape architecture practice Gustafson Guthrie Nichol and partner of London design firm Gustafson Porter, is the recipient of the annual Arnold W. Brunner Memorial Prize in Architecture from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. This honor is given to a preeminent architect from any country who has made a significant contribution to architecture as an art. Gustafson is only the third landscape architect in 57 years to be awarded the prize.
In 1991, The Academy began giving Arts and Letters Awards (formerly called Academy Awards) to honor American Architects whose work is characterized by strong personal direction. The winners are chosen from a group of 40 individuals and practices nominated by members of the Academy.
In addition to the Brunner Prize, the Academy presents annual Arts and Letters Awards to American architects whose work is characterized by a strong personal direction, and to individuals from any field who explore ideas in architecture through any medium of expression. This year's winners, which were chosen rom 40 nominees, are Hilary Ballon, Marlon Blackwell, Elizabeth Gray and Alan Organschi, and Michael Maltzan.
"I am honored and humbled to be awarded the 2012 Arnold A. Brunner Memorial Prize in Architecture and to be included among the list of the Academy’s distinguished past award recipients. Bestowing the award on another Landscape Architect will elevate the discourse and give prominence to external space as places, ensuring the significance of these spaces to be of quality and integral to people’s lives," said Kathryn Gustafson.
Gustafson has practiced landscape architecture for over 30 years from her offices in Seattle and London, and has built work in Europe, North America, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East. “Two projects in particular,” said James Polshek, a member of the awarding jury, “best exemplify her quietly spectacular work: the poetic and sublime Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain in London and her Lunar Garden (Arthur Ross Terrace) that frames the Rose Center for Earth and Space at the American Museum of Natural History. The power of her imagination and the precision of her execution have enriched the many natural and man-made places she has touched with her magic.”
Other notable projects include the Robert and Arlene Kogod Courtyard in Washington D.C.; the Lurie Garden in Chicago; Towards Paradise installation at the Venice Biennale; Cultuurpark Westergasfabriek in Amsterdam; and Valencia Parque Central in Valencia Spain. “She is an artist of space,” said Polshek, “who has moved far beyond the boundaries of landscape architecture or environmental design.”
The members of this year’s selection committee were: Henry N. Cobb, Michael Graves, Hugh Hardy, Steven Holl, Ada Louise Huxtable, Richard Meier (chairman), James Polshek, Billie Tsien, and Tod Williams.
The awards will be presented in New York City in May at the Academy’s galleries on Audubon Terrace.