The Rise of Awards in Architecture

Jean-Pierre Chupin, Carmela Cucuzzella, Georges Adamczyk (Eds.)

by Dana Buntrock (University of California, Berkeley), Marco Polo (Ryerson University), Jean-Pierre Chupin (Université de Montréal), Carmela Cucuzzella (Concordia University), Sherif Goubran (The American University in Cairo, Egypt), Aurélien Catros (Université de Montréal), Adélie de Marre (Université de Montréal), Lucie Palombi (Université de Montréal), Alexandra Paré (Université de Montréal), Typhaine Moogin (Université Libre de Bruxelles), Georges Adamczyk (Université de Montréal)

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This book offers an in-depth analysis of the widespread practice of acknowledging the quality of architecture works with prizes, awards, and project competitions given to individuals, collective works, and constructions. This timely study considers a contemporary culture of recognition that is largely taken for granted and not yet grasped as a global and rising phenomenon that has seen exponential growth since the 1980s. The contributors thus address the controversies, ambiguities, and shortcomings surrounding this context, including issues of gender biases, cultural diversity, transparency, and how media, politics, and financial prizes impact architectural awards. The authors provide scholarly insights that cannot be found elsewhere, proving a timely contribution to knowledge that will further our understanding of the context in which contemporary architecture practices operate.

Federica Goffi, Ph.D.,
School of Architecture (Carleton University)

This book raises, in quite a healthy and rational fashion, the vexed question of the judgment of quality in the arts, lifting the lid on the very human and sometimes unseemly tendency to favor winners and follow the money, while yet allowing some hope for continuing development of mechanisms that permit valid judgments, promote genuine quality, and encourage current and future practitioners. This is an unusually balanced point of view. This is a useful guide to understanding how things have worked and to acting intelligently to make things fairer.

David Vanderburgh, Ph.D.,
Laboratory of Architecture and the Built Environment (Université catholique de Louvain)

This book is the first scientific study to focus on awards in architecture and the built environment investigating their exponential growth since the 1980s. The celebration of excellence in architecture and related fields remains a phenomenon on which there is strangely little scientific scrutiny. What is to be understood from the plethora of award-winning projects, award-winning buildings and awarded professional practices in the built environment, year after year? Glossy images partake in an intense ballet at every local, regional, national or international award ceremony and they are meant to embody proofs of architectural excellence. However, it is necessary to take a critical distance to question what awards are meant to embody, symbolize, and perhaps measure.

Each of the 10 chapters in this volume is centered on one question related to themes as varied as the comparison of Pritzker and Nobel Prizes, the Prix de Rome, the redefinition of quality through awards, green awards and sustainability, the multiplication of sustainable awards, heritage awards, architecture book awards, the awarding of school architecture, awards as mediations and awards as pedagogical devices. Many fields, once consolidated, have featured a sharp increase in related prizes. The original data, compiled and summarized in 4 appendices cover more than 150 award-granting organizations in some 30 countries. Our inventory includes upwards of 24,000 prizes awarded at more than 3,100 events, the earliest of which is the first instance of Western architecture’s seminal Grand Prix de Rome in France in 1720. A history of contemporary architecture is thus written through press releases that praise the merits of the heroes as much as their works and achievements. And while awards can be vehicles that propel architecture forward, they can also be Trojan horses in an era that is constantly on the lookout for event-driven products, small and big news, and brand imaging.

List of Figures
List of Tables
List of Acronyms
About the Editors
About the Authors

What Can Explain the Exponential Growth of Awards in the Built Environment?
Jean-Pierre Chupin
Université de Montréal
Carmela Cucuzzella
Concordia University
Georges Adamczyk
Université de Montréal

Chapter 1
Big in Japan: What the Nobel Prize Reveals about the Pritzker Prize
Dana Buntrock
Department of Architecture, University of California, Berkeley

Chapter 2
Is there Still a Place for the Prix de Rome?
Marco L. Polo
Department of Architectural Science, Toronto Metropolitan University

Chapter 3
Can Awards and Prizes Define Quality in Architecture?
Jean-Pierre Chupin
School of Architecture, Université de Montréal

Chapter 4
How Do Green Awards Assess Sustainability?
Carmela Cucuzzella
Department of Design and Computation Arts, Concordia University

Chapter 5
How Did Canada Come to Host more than 100 Categories of Sustainable Awards?
Sherif Goubran
Department of Architecture, The American University in Cairo, Egypt

Chapter 6
Are Heritage Awards a New Type of Conservation Status?
Aurélien Catros
Université de Montréal
Adélie De Marre
Université de Montréal

Chapter 7
Do Architecture Book Awards Have Literary Ambition?
Lucie Palombi
Université de Montréal

Chapter 8
Should School Architecture Be Recognized in Specific Award Categories?
Alexandra Paré
Université de Montréal

Chapter 9
How Does Award Mediation Produce ‘Architecture Worlds’?
Typhaine Moogin
Architecture Unit of the Wallonia-Brussels Federation, Belgium

Chapter 10
What Can Students Learn from Architecture Awards?
Georges Adamczyk
School of Architecture, Université de Montréal

Appendix 1: Index of Awards Analyzed or Mentioned by Chapter
Appendix 2: Historical List of Awards and Organizations (non-exhaustive)
Appendix 3: Figures and Timelines on Architecture Awards in the World
Appendix 4: Focus on Architecture Awards in Canada

Jean-Pierre Chupin holds the Canada Research Chair in Architecture, Competitions and Mediations of Excellence at Université de Montréal. An expert on architecture competitions and awards, he is the chief editor of two online databases of projects and buildings: the Canadian Competitions Catalogue and the Atlas of Research on Exemplarity in Architecture and the Built Environment.

Carmela Cucuzzella holds the Concordia University Research Chair in ‘Integrated Design And Sustainability for the Built Environment’. She is the founding co-director of the ‘Next Generation Cities Institute’. In 2020, she published ‘Analyzing Eco-architecture Beyond Performance’ and co-edited with Dr. Sherif Goubran, ‘Sustainable Architecture between Measurement and Meaning.’

Georges Adamczyk is professor at the School of Architecture of the Université de Montréal which he directed from 1999 to 2007. He is an associate researcher to the ‘Laboratoire d'étude de l'architecture potentielle’ (LEAP).

Architecture awards, architecture prizes, Pritzker Prize, Prix de Rome, Rome Prize, Green Awards, Book Awards, Heritage Awards, RIBA Awards, AIA Gold Medal, RAIC Gold Medal, PA Awards, UIA Gold Medal, Praemium Imperiale, Stirling Prize, European Prize for Architecture, Prix ARVHA des femmes architects, Nobel Prize

See also

Bibliographic Information

Book Title

The Rise of Awards in Architecture





Number of pages


Physical size

236mm x 160mm


52 B&W

Publication date

July 2022