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Berke honored for his “distinct” contributions to architectural education

Deborah Berke, Dean of the Yale School of Architecture, received the 2022 AIA / ACSA Topaz Medallion for Excellence in Architectural Education, the highest honor awarded for architectural education in the United States.

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) and the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA) annually award the Topaz Medallion to an individual who has been involved in architectural education for at least a decade and whose teaching has influenced a wide range of students.

I am delighted to hear that Dean Berke has been honored with the Topaz Medallion, ”said Yale President Peter Salovey. “With an unwavering commitment to education over her long career, she has created new study programs, increased student support, and advanced the role of architecture in solving long-standing and emerging challenges. in our local community and around the world. “

The medallion will be presented at the CASA annual meeting in March and again at the 2022 AIA conference in June.

For over 40 years, Deborah Berke, FAIA, has leveraged her agile alignment of education and practice to share the discipline of architecture with students and professionals from a wide range of backgrounds, ” the award quote said. “Thanks to his accessible and deliberately non-monumental pedagogy, Berke expresses his deep conviction that training in architecture must be accessible to all. His contributions and inexhaustible spirit have inspired countless students and design professionals.

In July 2016, Berke became the first woman to lead the School of Architecture. She was appointed for a second five-year term earlier this year.

During his tenure, Berke led efforts to diversify faculty and student body, and forged collaborations with other schools and departments on campus. It recruited top professors, increased financial support by 60%, and created a new undergraduate major in Urban Studies that bridges multiple disciplines. She also supported the creation of the Yale Center for Ecosystems in Architecture – a multidisciplinary effort to develop a sustainable built environment – and the Regenerative Building Lab, a program that teaches students design and construction techniques that reduce the environmental impact of ” a structure during construction and throughout its existence

Deborah has not only been instrumental in welcoming new faces to school and the profession, she has also proven to be an intellectual leader, championing a point of view that has done much to thwart navel-gazing theories. of recent architectural pedagogy, ”wrote Robert AM Stern, Berke’s predecessor as dean and medallion recipient in 2017, in a letter supporting his appointment. “Her studios and seminars, imbued with what she describes as ‘the architecture of everyday life’, reflect a fundamental humanity that she brings to all of her work.”

Berke is the fourth woman to receive the medallion since the award was created in 1976. She is the first person to receive the honor while she was Dean of the Yale School of Architecture.

Prior to being appointed dean, Berke had been an assistant professor of architectural design at Yale. She has also taught at the University of Maryland, the University of Miami, the Rhode Island School of Design, the University of California-Berkeley, and the Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies.

His approach to teaching and design emphasizes “architecture of the greater good”, emphasizing the idea that good design is inclusive, demonstrates a concern for the community and produces buildings where all feel welcome. welcome and comfortable. She partnered up with the school Jim Vlock first year construction project, through which first-year students, in partnership with Columbus House, a local non-profit organization serving homeless people, design and build a house in New Haven. Each year, students design and build homes that are comfortable, aesthetically appealing, and affordable for those in the organization’s support system.

In the past, the unfortunate standard for universities was to follow the paths of power, whether through the presence of the singular ‘starchitect’ or star practices, ”wrote architect Billie Tsien, Professor Charles Gwathmey in practice at the ‘School of Architecture. “From her early days as Dean, Deborah has instead spoken of the need for collaboration, a work-life balance, and an architect’s responsibility to the world at large.

Berke is the founder of New York-based architecture firm Deborah Berke Partners. In her professional practice, she designs private residences, hotels, residential and commercial developments and institutional art and music buildings, including the renovation and expansion project that created the Yale School of Art Holcombe T. Green Jr. Hall. His company designed the home of NXTHVN, a nonprofit arts and community incubator founded by artist Titus Kaphar in the Dixwell neighborhood of New Haven. In 2017, the company received the National Design Award from Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum.

In his roles as professor and practitioner, Berke has evolved critical design thinking and equipped the architects of tomorrow with the skills to face pressing societal and environmental challenges for the greater good, ”the quote said. price. “His insightful leadership and distinct contributions to the profession ensure that his influence will continue to reverberate for generations. “

Past Yale Laureates of the Topaz Medallion for Excellence in Architectural Education include Stern, Serge Chermayeff (1980), faculty member 1963-1969; the late Vincent Scully Jr. ’40, ’49 GRD (1986), who was Sterling Professor of Art History; the late Charles Moore (1989), Chairman of the Department of Architecture 1965-1970; Spiro Kostof ’61 Ph.D. (1992), which was part of the faculty from 1961 to 1965; and Peter Eisenman (2014), the first Charles Gwathmey professor in practice.