The Athena Medal
CNU began a new awards tradition at CNU XIV. The Athena Medal
is named for the goddess, defender of the city, weaver of fabric. It recognizes
the legacy of pioneers who laid the groundwork for New Urbanism. The first
recipients are Christopher Alexander and Léon Krier, teachers
and masters for many of us.
looking deeply at systems in nature and society, and at human aspirations
and needs and in challenging us to understand that improved methodologies
for urban design are not enough, Christopher Alexander is asking us to
keep the eye on the prize: the creation of enduring, organic places that
and deepen in complexity and character over time."
-- Hank Dittmar, Chairman
of the Board, Congress for the New Urbanism
Alexander is Professor in the Graduate School and Emeritus Professor of
Architecture at the University of California, Berkeley.
He is the father of the Pattern Language movement in computer science,
and A Pattern Language, a seminal work that was perhaps the first complete
book ever written in hypertext fashion.
He has designed and built more than two hundred buildings on five continents:
many of these buildings lay the ground work of a new form of architecture,
which looks far into the future, yet has roots in ancient traditions. Much
of his work has been based on inventions in technology, including concrete,
shell design, and contracting procedures needed to attain a living architecture.
He was the founder of the Center for Environmental Structure in 1967,
and remains President of that Company until today. In 2000, he founded
PatternLanguage.com, and is Chairman of the Board. He has been a consultant
to city, county, and national governments on every continent, has advised
corporations, government agencies, and architects and planners throughout
Alexander was elected fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences
in 1996, is a fellow of the Swedish Royal Society, has been the recipient
of innumerable architectural prizes and honors including the gold medal
for research of the American Institute of Architects, awarded in 1970.
He was born in Vienna, Austria in 1936. He was raised in England, and
holds a Master's Degree in Mathematics and a Bachelor's degree in Architecture
from Cambridge University, and a PhD in Architecture from Harvard University.
In 1958 he moved to the United States, and has lived in Berkeley, California
from 1963 until the present.
View Alexander Award Presentation in Archives
Leo actually did at the crucial point in the '60s and early '70s was that
he pulled the trigger and actually drew the city entire. No one for 40
years had drawn the city. The project at Lavallette was the first time
that all of the elements of the city - the streets, the roads, the civic
buildings, the mixed-use, the places to work - first appeared and fortunately
for us in highly diagrammatic form. We had completely lost the ability
to understand how a city worked, that if it were not as clear as Lavallette
was, it would have flown right past us. We had really lost the language… I
sometimes think that I would not have become an urbanist if I had not seen
Leo's diagrams because I would never have understood how a city is
made, what a city consists of."
-- Andrés Duany, Co-founder, Congress
for the New Urbanism
Krier studied at the Technische Hochschule, in Stuttgart (1964–5),
but left after six months, dissatisfied with its modernist teaching. By
the age of 20 had developed a strong and enduring belief in the classical
ideal of architecture.
He worked for James Stirling in London (1968–70, 1973–4) and
in between spent a period with Josef Paul Kleihues in Berlin. He taught
in London at the Architectural Association School (1973–6) and Royal
College of Art (1977), and he practiced in London after 1974. Under the
influence of his brother he also became interested in neo-rationalist urban
theory and spatial typologies. The socio-economic dimension of his polemic,
which deplores the effects of industrialization upon cities, led him to
seek inspiration in the urban morphology of early 19th-century neo-classical
examples and to advocate a return to the concept of multi-function localities
in place of 20th-century zoning, which he considered undemocratic.
His uncompromising attitudes left most of his projects unexecuted, but
his polemical writings and numerous superb drawings and photographs of
models were published and exhibited. Such projects included a diagonal
link design (1974) for the Royal Mint Square Housing Development and a
redevelopment plan (1986) with narrow streets, squares and classical buildings
for Spitalfields market in London; the Quartiers de la Villette (1976)
in Paris; three new civic centers (1977) in Rome; public buildings (1980–83),
Tegel, and the Südliche-Friederichstadt redevelopment (iba; 1981;
with Maurice Culot) in Berlin; a master-plan for Washington, DC (1984–5);
and a new city of Atlantis, ‘a model for the art of living’ (1987)
Executed works include a belvedere, market Stoa and summer-house for himself
(1987) at Seaside, a new town in Florida planned by Andres Duany and Elizabeth
Plater-Zyberk: the house combines timber construction with classical detailing,
porticos and loggias, and is topped by a quasi-classical temple. In the
early 1990s construction also began on the first phase of his controversial
scheme (1987–91) for the town of Poundbury, near Dorchester, commissioned
by the Duchy of Cornwall.
View Krier Award Presentation in Archives