Steven Holl Receives AIA Gold Medal With Ceremony in Washington DC

In recognition of his contributions to architecture in both theory and practice Steven Holl has been named the 2012 AIA Gold Medal Winner. The AIA Gold Medal, voted on annually, is considered to be the profession’s highest honor that an individual can receive. Steven Holl was honored at the 2012 AIA National Convention in Washington, D.C. on May 18.

Steven Holl, Washington, D.C.
AIA Gold Medal – May 18, 2012

I am deeply honored and humbled that the AIA chose our work for the Gold Medal Award.
I share this honor with my partner Chris McVoy – with whom I have collaborated for over 18 years of a 38-year practice. Architecture is about collaboration: I have had the good fortune to collaborate with many brilliant and dedicated people: particularly Molly Blieden, Noah Yaffe in New York, Li Hu in our Beijing Office and all our hard-workers in and out of the office.

In the spirit of brevity, I wrote a few notes as a summary of some thoughts on this occasion:

Architecture’s unspoken power is to inspire and transform the quality of our day-to-day lives.
A life quietly serving this Transformative Spirit is a deep joy. The hope of finding and expressing unique meaning in each place sets Architecture’s Ideal and highest aim to fulfill and celebrate the “not-yet-known” in built form. I want to make a few key points about my approach to architecture.

More than a mere ingredient in a building’s conception, a SITE is both its Physical and Metaphysical Foundation. An ideal exists in the specific, an absolute in the relative.
Architecture transcends physical and functional requirements by fusing with a place — it gathers meaning from and with a situation.

IDEAS in Architecture give us a hidden thread, an Inner Logic, connecting disparate, disjunctive parts with exact intentions. The main concept in each project establishes an order, a field of inquiry, and guiding principles. Architecture is an art bridging the humanities and the sciences.

As a LANGUAGE, it is Transfigurative – always open to new words, new sites, new feelings, and the not-yet-known. We work bone-deep in Art – drawing lines between sculpture, poetry, music and science that coalesce in Architecture.

The essential power of Architecture is PARALLAX: the horizontal and vertical movement through forms and light over time, as we – our bodies – pass by, walk up, go inside, walk through inspired space.

The joy and ambiguity of SCALELESSNESS excites the imagination through Mysteries of Proportion like Fibonacci’s — 0, 1, 1, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21 … — which wakes us to Geometrical Feeling.

The chalky dullness of a wall, the glossy reflection of opaque glass and a beam of sunlight intermesh – from linearity, concavity and transparency to hardness, elasticity and dampness the Haptic, MATERIAL Realm opens.
Space is oblivion without LIGHT.

For its first million years, the universe was opaque and shadowless. At the time of the de-coupling of light and matter the universe became transparent to light. Language is a form of light — while light becomes a form of Language. Sideways, forward, backward — the Words of Light are spoken in utter silence.

Forget mono-functional buildings!

Make Hybrid Buildings: Living = Working = Recreation = Culture
Make a New Fusion of landscape, architecture, and URBANISM, a fusion of luminosity and porosity into Cities of Matter with spirit.
Make New Cities — our greatest artwork — with the same urgency as we restore the natural landscape and biodiversity.

We must celebrate architecture’s power to trigger emotions and joy which continuously transforms life on this wondrous planet.