The Board of Directors and the Strategic Council of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA) named Jorge Silvetti, Int’l Assoc. AIA, as the 2018 AIA/ACSA Topaz Medallion recipient. The AIA/ACSA Topaz Medallion honors an individual who has been involved in architecture education for more than a decade and whose teaching has influenced a range of students. Silvetti has taught at Harvard University Graduate School of Design (GSD) since 1975 as a professor and mentor. Argentinian by birth, Silvetti’s influence at GSD may have been most felt from 1995-2002, when he served as chair of the architecture program.
Currently, Silvetti is the Nelson Robinson, Jr. Professor of Architecture and leads design studios, as well as delivering regular lectures on history, contemporary theory, and criticism. The publication of his 1977 essay “The Beauty of Shadows” provided an argument for how a profession caught between postmodernism and deconstruction should proceed. His later works, published with Rodolfo Machado, furthered his arguments and have influenced his students as well as other schools of design across the country. The list of deans and department chairs that were former students, colleagues, or employees of Silvetti is long.
Since 1986, Silvetti has overseen a number of research programs, including an examination of Sicily’s urbanism and architecture, which won a Progressive Architecture award. Other projects have explored the future of public space in the shifting metropolis of Buenos Aires and the future development of previously industrial Bilbao. He is a recipient of the Rome Prize and, since 1996, has served as a Pritzker Architectural Prize juror. In 2000, he was a juror for the former Mies van der Rohe Prize for Latin American Architecture.
Beyond academia, Silvetti’s work in association with Rodolfo Machado since 1974 and under different professional firms that they founded and led (presently MACHADO SILVETTI), has been celebrated. Run like a studio where all employees contribute ideas and everyone shares in the learning experience, the projects of the firm include work at major universities and colleges in the U.S., (among them Dartmouth and Bowdoin Colleges, Princeton, Harvard, Rice, and Arizona State universities), abroad at the American University in Beirut and the Vietnamese and German University in Vietnam, as well as notable cultural and educational institutions such as the Getty Trust in the U.S. The firm received the First Award in Architecture from the American University of Arts and Letters in 1991 and numerous design awards and citations from the AIA.