Greek architect Elia Zenghelis has won the RIBA's first ever £10,000 Annie Spink Award for excellence in education.
Zenghelis, who expressed his 'great honour and surprise' at his triumph, lists current RIBA president Marco Goldschmied, Rem Koolhaas, Zaha Hadid ('who I taught how to make a staircase'), Janet Street-Porter, Alan Stanton, Nigel Coates, Ken Yeang and John Young as some of his illustrious pupils. He entered teaching in 1963 because it was 'the only way to escape the Greek army', and has taught in Europe and America ever since.He currently teaches in Dusseldorf, Amsterdam and Brussels and is an external examiner at Edinburgh College of Art School of Architecture. He is also a practising architect, having spent many years as a partner at OMA before establishing Gigantes Zenghelis Architects with Eleni Gigantes in 1987.
Zenghelis' list of former pupils is testament to his skills as a teacher, although he insists that 'it is almost impossible to gauge when it is the teacher and when the taught who benefits'. Among those who sent citations in his support were Zaha Hadid, who described him as 'one of the very few individuals in the profession whom I would truly call a teacher' and Kenneth Frampton, who told the judges 'his patience and critical persistence are legendary'.The judges, chaired by AJ columnist Paul Hyett included Cambridge's Professor Peter Carolin and Julia von Rohr, last year's silver medallist in the President's Medals, who now works at OMA.
Zenghelis will receive his award from Marco Goldschmied at a ceremony on Thursday 7 December at the RIBA. The award is financed by a trust set up by architect Herbert Spink as a memorial to his wife Annie who died in 1938.