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Rykwert wins RIBA Gold Medal

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The 2014 RIBA Royal Gold Medal has been awarded to a close friend of the AJ in recognition of his lifetime’s service to architecture

Architect turned architectural critic Joseph Rykwert has won the 2014 RIBA Royal Gold Medal in recognition of his lifetime’s work.

The historian and writer, best known for his influential book The Idea of a Town (1963), joins the likes of Le Corbusier, Frank Lloyd Wright and Charles Voysey to have been handed the prestigious award.

A regular AJ contributor, Rykwert, 86, worked with Maxwell Fry and Jane Drew in the 1940s before becoming a librarian and, later, an author. He also designed the legendary Ad Lib nightclub in London.

According to Eric Parry, who selected Rykwert along with fellow RIBA Honours Committee judges, David Chipperfield, Louisa Hutton, Frederic Migayrou and RIBA president Stephen Hodder, the author’s books had ‘changed the way architects, planners and urban theorists think about buildings and cities and more fundamentally how historians view the architectural roots of our era’.

Hodder said the institute’s recognition for Rykwert, who is again judging the AJ’s annual Writing Prize, was ‘long overdue’.

He said: ‘[The fact that the medal] has gone to a man whose writings have provided inspiration to so many who practice in the heart of our cities, gives me particular personal pleasure.

‘Joseph’s writing and teaching are rare in that he can deliver the most profound thinking on architecture in an accessible way. All our lives are the richer for it.’

Rykwert will be presented with the medal at a special event at the RIBA at Portland Place on the 25 February 2014.


1926 Born in Warsaw

1939 Moves to England and attends Charterhouse school

1942-44 Studies at The Bartlett

1944-47 Studies at AA; works in the office of Maxwell Fry and Jane Drew

1951 Starts teaching at the Hammersmith School of Arts and Crafts

1961 Becomes librarian and tutor at the Royal College of Art

1963 Completes his PhD and seminal work The Idea of a Town.

The Idea of a Town

1967 Leaves RCA and spends the next 14 years as professor of art at the University of Essex, where he launches a post-graduate course on architectural history and theory with the critic Dalibor Vesely

1972 Rykwert’s influential theoretical work On Adam’s House in Paradise is published

1979 Delivers the University of Cambridge’s Slade lectures

1980 The First Moderns is published

1981-87 Becomes reader in architecture at Cambridge

1982 The Necessity of Artifice is published

1984 Appointed a Knight of France’s Order of Arts and Letters

1988 Teaches as Paul Philippe Cret Professor at the University of Pennsylvania. His translation of Leon Battista Alberti’s 15th century Art of Building in Ten Books is published

1994 Co-curates an exhibition on Alberti

1996 The Dancing Column: On Order in Architecture is published. Becomes president of CICA, the international council of architectural critics

1999 Becomes prof emeritus at University of Pennsylvania

2000 Lands the Venice Biennale’s Bruno Zevi prize for architectural history

2002 Publishes a new treatise on urban space entitled The Seduction of Place

2008 Becomes a regular columnist in the AJ, as well as writing building studies

2009 Wins Spain’s Gold Medal for Fine Arts

2013 Awarded the RIBA Royal Gold Medal for his life’s work in architectural criticism



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