The American Institute of Architects (AIA) Board of Directors has awarded the 2012 AIA Architecture Firm Award to VJAA (Vincent James Associates Architects), and the 2012 AIA Gold Medal to Steven Holl, FAIA. The Firm Award is the highest honor bestowed on an architecture firm in the country, and the Gold Medal is considered the profession's highest individual honor. Holl, along with VJAA, were the architects for the Rapson Hall addition.
Two of the three VJAA principals are graduates of the University of Minnesota School of Architecture, and all three currently teach at the School: Vincent James, FAIA, is a Cass Gilbert Visiting Professor, Jennifer Yoos (B Arch '95) is an Adjunct Professor and Nathan Knutson (M Arch '95) is a Professor in Practice. VJAA's staff also includes Dzenita Hadziomerovic and Nat Madson, both M Arch grads and adjunct instructors.
"We are honored to be recognized by the AIA with this important award," said James. "This recognition is due to talented and committed employees, ambitious clients and the strong support we receive from our local design community. With this encouragement, we will continue to build a practice that strives to innovate while creating a responsive architecture that is sensitive to its users and its place."
Firms are nominated to the AIA for Firm Award consideration. Presentations on behalf of finalists are made before the Board of Directors. This year Architecture Head, Professor Renee Cheng, presented on behalf of VJAA. Cheng discussed the creative and imaginative nature of VJAA, as well as the firm's impact on students, noting, "Not only do our students want to work for VJAA, they want to be VJAA."
Founded in 1995, VJAA, the 49th Firm Award recipient, has previously received 16 state and local AIA Awards, and nine AIA National Awards. In November, the team led by VJAA, that included Associate Professor of Architecture Marc Swackhamer and Associate Professor of Art Diane Willow, also won the Weisman Art Museum Plaza Design Competition.
In recognition of VJAA's legacy to architecture, its name will be chiseled into the granite Wall of Honor in the lobby of the AIA headquarters in Washington, D.C. Both VJAA and Holl will also be honored at the AIA 2012 National Convention and Design Exposition in Washington, D.C.
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