Paul Revere Williams Wins 2017 AIA Gold Medal

Paul Revere Williams Wins 2017 AIA Gold Medal, LAX Theme Building, 1961. Image © Flickr user thomashawk. Licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0
LAX Theme Building, 1961. Image © Flickr user thomashawk. Licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) has announced Paul Revere Williams, FAIA as the posthumous winner of the 2017 AIA Gold Medal. With a portfolio of nearly 3,000 buildings over five decades, Williams’ career was notable for breaking boundaries within the profession as the first black member of the AIA.

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Paul Revere Williams. Image Courtesy of AIA

Paul Revere Williams. Image Courtesy of AIA

“This is a moment in our Institute’s history that is so important to recognize and acknowledge the work of a champion,” said Phil Freelon, FAIA, Managing and Design Director at Perkins + Will, who presented to the AIA Board of Directors on behalf of Williams. “It’s been many decades but Paul Williams is finally being recognized for the brilliant work he did over many years.”

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La Concha Motel, Las Vegas, 1961 (now Neon Museum). Image Courtesy of AIA

La Concha Motel, Las Vegas, 1961 (now Neon Museum). Image Courtesy of AIA

A native of Los Angeles, Williams was known for his many schools, public buildings, and churches in a variety of styles, notably the Palm Springs Tennis Center (1946) and the space-age LAX Theme Building (1961). Eight of his buildings have been named to to the National Register of Historic Places.

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Guardian Angel Cathedral, Las Vegas, 1961. Image Courtesy of AIA

Guardian Angel Cathedral, Las Vegas, 1961. Image Courtesy of AIA

“Our profession desperately needs more architects like Paul Williams,” wrote William J. Bates, FAIA, in his support of William’s nomination for the AIA Gold Medal. “His pioneering career has encouraged others to cross a chasm of historic biases. I can’t think of another architect whose work embodies the spirit of the Gold Medal better. His recognition demonstrates a significant shift in the equity for the profession and the institute.”

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LAX Theme Building, 1961. Image Courtesy of AIA

LAX Theme Building, 1961. Image Courtesy of AIA

As the 73rd AIA Gold Medalist, Williams joins an esteemed list of winners including Frank Lloyd Wright (1949), Louis Sullivan (1944), Le Corbusier (1961), Louis I. Kahn (1971), I.M. Pei (1979), Thom Mayne (2013), Julia Morgan (2014), Moshe Safdie (2015). Last year, the prize was given to Denise Scott Brown & Robert Venturi, the first time the Gold Medal was given to a pair of architects.

Read more about Williams’ nomination here.

News via AIA.

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