Penn's Weitzman School of Design selected Yale architecture professor Peter Eisenman as the recipient of the 2020 Kanter Tritsch Medal for Excellence in Architecture and Environmental Design.
The medal is awarded to “an architect who has changed the course of design history, with a particular focus on the areas of energy conservation, environmental quality, and/or diversity,” according to a School of Design press release. A $1.25 million donation by 1985 PennDesign graduate and member of Weitzman's Board of Overseers Lori Kanter Tritsch and Penn trustee and 1983 Wharton graduate William P. Lauder helped create this prize in 2017.
Eisenman is known for his large-scale housing and urban design projects, according to PennDesign. He founded and leads Eisenman Architects, an architecture firm currently pursuing projects such as a commuter rail station in Italy and a one-million-square-foot cultural complex in Spain, featuring a library, two museums, and a performing arts center.
“Peter always pushes the boundaries of architecture and has given architects so much to think about over the past 50 years,” Weitzman Chair of Architecture Winka Dubbeldam said.
In his early career, Eisenman made a name for himself as a member of the “New York Five,” a well-known group of architects inspired by modernist ideas. He developed a reputation for a deconstructivist approach to architecture, involving the fragmenting of buildings, describing in a 2016 ArchDaily interview how he seeks to “displace certainty” and does not care about details or beauty. But Eisenman denies having a distinctive style.
“When I look at the work on my website, I think to myself, could someone recognize Peter Eisenman? I am not sure. I am not being disingenuous. I am not convinced that I have a style," Eisenman told ArchDaily. "Let’s put it this way — I have a style that’s not a style."
Eisenman received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in architecture from Cornell University and Columbia University, respectively, before traveling to the University of Cambridge and earning a Ph.D. and an additional M.A.
He established the Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies in New York, authored books including 2008’s "Ten Canonical Buildings, 1950-2000," and has taught at Ohio State University, Harvard University, Cambridge University, Princeton University, and The Cooper Union.
His most famous projects include the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe in Berlin, Germany; the Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus, Ohio; and the City of Culture of Galicia, Spain.
Weitzman will hold a celebration for Eisenman and the rest of its 2020 honorees — including GreenPlan Philadelphia, winner of the Witte-Sakamoto Family Medal in City and Regional Planning — on Dec. 2.
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