And all shall have prizes

We are well into awards season. On Tuesday the Wood Awards were presented, for which I was a judge. Top prize (the Arnold Laver Gold Award) went to Maggie’s at the Robert Parfett Building, a successful attempt by Foster to use its engineering and system rigour on a smaller and gentler scale, in wood.

We are well into awards season. On Tuesday the Wood Awards were presented, for which I was a judge. Top prize (the Arnold Laver Gold Award) went to Maggie’s at the Robert Parfett Building, a successful attempt by Foster to use its engineering and system rigour on a smaller and gentler scale, in wood.

But it is not only buildings that win prizes. On Friday I was delighted to be invited to the party to celebrate the award of an MBE to Catherine Slessor, former editor of The Architectural Review, for services to architectural criticism.

It is easy to be cynical about awards. What do they really mean? in a sense nothing … except that they mean that you are admired and valued and respected and liked by the people who you have encountered in your professional life. And that  is certainly worthwhile.

Bob Dylan may have decided that turning up to receive his Nobel Prize was not essential, but for most people, however detached and cynical they may think themselves, the ceremonial and flim flam makes them feel important and even loved. And that is a great thing.

I bet Frank Gehry was delighed when President Obama awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom. After all, Gehry may be a bit of a rock star in the world of architecture but he was recognised along some ‘real stars’ like Robert de Niro and Tom Hanks, as well as with IT wizards turned philanthropists Bill and Melinda Gates.

I am sure he will have shrugged gracefully and talked about designing the next building, but I bet some of the fairy dust rubbed off. I bet he loved it. I know that Cathy did. So congratulations to her and to all other recipients of prizes and awards and medals.

Sometimes you just have to be gong ho.

Ruth Slavid

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