Los Angeles-based Australian expatriates Hank Koning and Julie Eizenberg have won the 2019 Australian Institute of Architects' Gold Medal, the country's most prestigious award for architecture.
Awarded since 1960, the prize recognises architects who have, according to the institute, designed or executed buildings of high merit or produced work of great distinction resulting in the advancement of architecture or endowed the profession of architecture in a distinguished manner.
Previous winners include Jørn Utzon, Brit Andresen, Harry Seidler, Robin Boyd and Alec Tzannes.
This year's recipients, Santa Monica-based Hank Koning and Julie Eizenberg, of Koning Eizenberg Architecture, were awarded the prize for their lifelong pursuit of social and community outcomes through architecture.
Julie Eizenberg becomes only the third woman to collect the Gold Medal after Brit Andresen, who in 2002 became the first female recipient, and Kerry Clare, who won the award with her husband Lindsay in 2010.
The two Australians established their practice in 1981 after graduating from the University of California, Los Angeles.
Over the next three decades, they developed Koning Eizenberg Architecture into a firm of national repute, gaining a succession of American Institute of Architects awards for projects like the Simone Hotel Apartments, the first new Skid Row accommodation facility in Los Angeles in thirty years, and internationally-acclaimed Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh.
“Through their affordable housing, education and civic projects, Julie and Hank have tirelessly fought to improve the situation of these typically underprivileged communities,” the jury citation said.
“Their efforts have transformed the lives of those they have touched – by providing meaningful and respectful homes, they have also brought these communities into the spotlight so that other firms may now consider designing for them a worthwhile pursuit.”
“The legacy of their projects lies not just in the bricks and mortar of the buildings themselves, but also in the hearts and minds of all those involved in making sure the lessons learnt extend beyond the property boundaries.”
The National President’s Prize was awarded to entertainer and broadcaster Tim Ross, who has propelled Australian design – notably modernism and its protection – into the popular media.
Ross had a prominent role in campaigns to stop the destruction of heritage landmarks, Save Our Sirius and Hands Off Anzac Hall, and continues to advocate for Australian architecture and design.
The Leadership in Sustainability Prize was awarded to Cooperative Research Centre for Low Carbon Living, which creates collaborations between property, planning, engineering and policy organisations with researchers aimed at spurring sustainability in the development and construction industries.
National President Helen Lochhead was awarded the Paula Whitman Leadership in Gender Equity Prize for her commitment to women’s participation and sustained contribution in the industry.
As the first female Dean of the Faculty of the Built Environment at the University of New South Wales, she has achieved a goal of 50 per cent representation of women on the leadership team and advisory council.
“Combining her teaching, research, practice and advisory roles, Helen uses her profile to facilitate education opportunities for women in architecture, including establishing scholarships and prizes, and supporting mentoring programs and work placements,” the jury said.