Yale’s Peter Eisenman wins prestigious award for excellence in architectural education

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Peter Eisenman, photo courtesy the Yale School of Architecture.

Peter Eisenman, the Charles Gwathmey Professor in Practice at the Yale School of Architecture (YSoA), has been named the 2015 recipient of the Topaz Medallion for Excellence in Architectural Education, the most prestigious award for architectural education in the United States.

Jointly presented by the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ASCA), the award recognizes an individual who has been involved in architecture education for at least a decade and whose teachings have influenced a broad range of students. Eisenman will be honored at the annual ACSA convention in April and at the AIA national convention in June.

According to the AIA citation, “After 60 years of teaching, the shadow cast by Eisenman’s tenure looms over generations of architects: Tod Williams, FAIA; Daniel Libeskind, AIA; Shigeru Ban, Hon. FAIA; and another Topaz recipient, Harrison Fraker, Assoc. AIA, all studied under him.”

“Peter is that rara avis — an immensely talented architect who sees teaching, writing, and practice as intertwined and a lifelong commitment. Each student and colleague who encounters Professor Eisenman is inspired by his example,” said Robert A.M. Stern, dean of the YSoA.

Eisenman is an internationally recognized architect and educator, who has designed large-scale housing and urban design projects, innovative facilities for educational institutions, and a series of inventive private houses. The principal of Eisenman Architects in New York City, he is currently working on the six-building City of Culture of Galicia in Santiago de Compostela, Spain, and a large condominium-housing block in Milan, Italy.

Born in Newark, New Jersey, Eisenman graduated from Cornell University and went on to receive an M.Arch. from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, and M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Cambridge. In 2003, he was awarded an honorary Doctorate in Architecture by the Università La Sapienza in Rome. He holds honorary Doctorates of Fine Arts from the University of Illinois, Chicago, the Pratt Institute in New York, and Syracuse University.

Eisenman rose to prominence in 1967 as founder and first director of the Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies (IAUS), an international think tank for architecture. Two years later he was part of a group exhibition at MOMA and gained renown as one of the “New York Five,” which also included architects Charles Gwathmey, Michael Graves, Richard Meier, and John Hejduk.

Prior to establishing his practice in 1980, Eisenman was primarily an educator and theorist. He began teaching at Yale in the 1970s, and before his appointment as Gwathmey Professor, served as the Louis I. Kahn Visiting Professor of Architecture.

Some of his most prominent projects include the Memorial for the Murdered Jews of Europe in Berlin; the Aronoff Center for Art and Design at the University of Cincinnati; the University of Phoenix Stadium for the Arizona Cardinals in Glendale; the Koizumi Sangyo Corporation Headquarters Building in Tokyo; and the Wexner Center for the Visual Arts at the Ohio State University. In 2001, he received the National Design Award for Architecture from the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum. At the 2012 International Architecture Biennale in Venice, Eisenman led a team of 12 students from Yale to translate Giovanni Battista Piranesi’s 1762 map of the “Campo Marzio dell’antica Roma” into three dimensions.

In addition to Yale, Eisenman has taught at Cambridge, Harvard, Princeton, and Ohio State universities, and at The Cooper Union, where he is a professor emeritus. He is a member of both the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

His many books include “Eisenman: Inside Out, Selected Writings 1963–1988”; “Written into the Void, Selected Writings 1990–2004”; “Tracing Eisenman”; and “Giuseppe Terragni: Transformations, Decompositions, Critiques.”

Past Yale winners of the Topaz Medallion for Excellence in Architectural Education include Serge Chermayeff (1980), faculty 1963–1969; Vincent Scully, Jr. ’40, ’49 GRD (1986), Sterling Professor Emeritus in the History of Art; Charles Moore (1989), dean of the Yale School of Architecture 1965–1970; Spiro Kostof ’61 Ph.D. (1992), faculty 1961–1965; and alumnus Stanley Tigerman ’60, ’61 M.Arch (2008).

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Amy Athey McDonald: amy.mcdonald@yale.edu,