Steven Holl, sculptor of air and light and principal at Steven Holl Architects was just named the 2011 American Institute of Architects Gold Medal Winner for his innovative designs and contributions to architecture. Holl who was born sixty-four years ago today is known for his attention to relationships between light, reflections, space and time. His structures span the world from Kauai, Hawaii to Hensinki, Finland to Seoul, South Korea and are all marked by a careful consideration for the relationship between space, light, reflection and time. Holl integrates sustainable building techniques into his designs, which often take advantage of natural lighting and ventilation. He molds structures that fit their surrounding environment and work with the environment to lower their impact.

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What, in my view, especially commends him as a candidate for the Gold Medal,” said Harry Cobb, FAIA, founder of Pei Cobb Freed, “is his brilliantly demonstrated capacity to join his refined design sensibility to a rigorously exploratory theoretical project.” In their announcement of the award the AIA noted Holl’s, “humanist approach to formal experimentation,” and applauded his ability to tackle urban environmental issues with solutions that, “define success in the built environment throughout the world.”

In a statement, Holl said “I am grateful, I am still beginning and I consider this award shared with all my collaborators. I feel this award is a positive advocacy to make theoretical explorations and experimental works . . . I was on the way to my final review at Columbia University when I received the call from Washington D.C. and felt it connected to my teaching and efforts toward education. I remember John Hejduk’s statement that teaching is a social contract, and I remain committed to teaching.”

Steven not only improves the built environment, he improves the field of architecture by constantly moving us forward,” said Olson Kundig Architects’ Tom Kundig, FAIA. Holl’s architecture is not only thoughtful in design but thoughtful in purpose and practice. His theoretical building techniques will continue to alter the course of architectural practice throughout the rest of his career.

+ Steven Holl