Kenneth Frampton, the architectural historian who wrote the pivotal book “Modern Architecture: A Critical History,” will be the recipient of the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at this year’s edition of the Venice Architecture Biennale.
“There is no student of the faculties of architecture who is unfamiliar with his ‘Modern Architecture: A Critical History,’” Paolo Baratta, the president of the biennale, which runs from May 26 through Nov. 11, said in a statement. He added that the award will go to “a ‘maestro,’ and in this sense it is also intended to be a recognition of the importance of the critical approach to the teaching of architecture.”
Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara of the Dublin-based firm Grafton Architects, who organized this year’s biennale, recommended Mr. Frampton for the honor, which in the past has gone to star architects like Rem Koolhaas, Frank Gehry and Renzo Piano.
“His humanistic philosophy in relation to architecture is embedded in his writing,” Ms. Farrell and Ms. McNamara said in a statement, “and he has consistently argued for this humanistic component throughout all the various ‘movements’ and trends often misguided in architecture in the 20th and 21st century.”
Mr. Frampton, born in 1930 in Britain, was trained at the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London and has taught at the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation at Columbia University since 1972. In a phone interview, he said he was also at work on expanding “Modern Architecture.”
“I’m looking at architecture in the non-Eurocentric world,” he said. “Today talent is everywhere. Even though the opportunities are not as great as one would like them to be, nevertheless there is extraordinary work around the world. It’s an impossible thing to take on.”
Before teaching at Columbia — even before teaching at Princeton in the late 1960s — Mr. Frampton was a practicing architect in London. That experience, Ms. Farrell and Ms. McNamara said, “makes him both more sympathetic and more critical of the various forms of the practice of architecture.”
They added: “His consistent values in relation to the impact of architecture on society, together with his intellectual generosity, position him as a uniquely important presence in the world of architecture.”
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