March 22: you could just call it “the Clio,” if you want, Mr. Driehaus
2012/03/22 § 1 Comment
On this day in 2003 the first Richard H. Driehaus Prize for Classical Architecture was awarded.
This initial trophy was presented to Léon Krier (b. 1946), the Jedi Grand Master of Neo-Traditional architects and planners (not to mention general sartorial excellence: the linen suits! the cravats! and then there’s his majestic philosopher’s mane!). But this post is neither about him nor the other laureates (although we’ll get to them, if only briefly, just hang on). This is a celebration of the Prize itself, awarded for achievement in Classical architecture–not the narrow sort defined by Hellas and illustrated by the fine trophy that takes the shape of the Choragic Monument of Lysicrates, not that there’s anything wrong with that (indeed, for obvious reasons, Clio is pretty fond of that stuff). The Driehaus Prize is for Classicism of the broader sort: architecture that is elevated in a poetic, artistic way from the vernacular traditions of a place. It’s what smart, creative architects do with the lessons worked out over generations and centuries by smart, intuitive builders. As such, it varies dramatically from place to place due to differences in climate, resources, preferences. And as such, it keys precisely with the culture of a place, and that is what the Prize is about: Classicism of sustainable traditions, defined both culturally and ecologically.
Because of this definition, the folks who have picked up this tinsel trophy vary a lot in what their architecture looks like but not in their approach to architecture. Also multi-cultural and inclusive, the laureates represent cultures from around the globe. In addition to the Luxembourger Krier (2003), the Prize has been bestowed on the Greek Demetri Porphyrios (2004), Brit Quinlan Terry (2005), South African Allan Greenberg (2006), Americans Jaquelin T. Robertson (2007), Andres Duany and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk (2008), Robert A. M. Stern (2011) and Michael Graves (2012), Egyptian Abdel-Wahed El-Wakil (2009), and Spaniard Rafael Manzano Martos (2010). Clio hates to play favorites among all these followers who have listened to me so well, but she must give special props to Demetri, and not only because he was raised in the shadow of my home. Have you seen how this fellow accessorizes with violet? Really, what’s a muse to do?
Image: the actual bronze trophy (from this source)