Miami-based architecture office Arquitectonica has received the 2019 winner of the American prize for architecture. The firm, founded in 1977 by Laurinda Spear and Bernardo Fort-Brescia, together with Andrés Duany, Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, and Hervin Romney, is known for its “Trendsetting Modernist Miami Style”. The practice which has a global presence in cities such as New York, Los Angeles, Paris, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Manila, Lima, and Sao Paulo, has been credited with redefining the architectural language of the city of Miami, and has projects spanning 59 countries on five continents. Christian Narkiewicz-Laine, President and CEO of The Chicago Athenaeum says: “The firm’s early, legacy buildings became immediate media sensations, lauded in the US and international press and used as shooting locations for fashion labels and photographers and TV shows. In the early 1980s, Fort-Brescia and Spear rejected the formalist “Postmodern Style” with an architectural style representing an ebullient, hopeful, confident, and creative version of Postmodernism, which had become auspiciously reactionary—regressive, classicising, and heavy in many of its more northerly manifestations.” Their work include a diverse range of projects such as mixed-use developments, schools and universities, resorts and casinos, hotels, luxury condominium towers, retail centers and office buildings to specialised projects such as a US Embassy, opera house/symphony halls, museums, courthouses, multipurpose arenas and convention centers, airports and transportation centers, television studios and several bank headquarters. Arquitectonica has received hundreds of design awards, because of their continuous quest and exploration with limits and innovation especially in the use of “geometry, pattern, and color to introduce a new brand of humanistic modern design to the world. Narkiewicz-Laine adds further: “The firm is known for sophisticated surface patterning and facade articulation. Arquitectonica’s structures are bold in colour and graphic in form and the firm has become famous for its own signature style — a dramatic, expressive ‘high tech’ modernism. This firm for all its achievements and for several decades now is laudable for its fresh approach, its visionary attitude, its forward-thinking with the invention of an architectural style that is publically popular and one that celebrates, embraces, and enhances the city, its citizenry, and its urban landscape.”
The American Prize for Architecture, also known as The Louis H. Sullivan Award, organised by The Chicago Athenaeum and The European Centre for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies, honours American and international architects practicing on those continents. It is granted to outstanding practitioners that have made an impact on the history of American Architecture, and have contributed to humanity through their architecture. Previous laureates include Norman Foster, Michael Graves, and Richard Meier.