The Board of Directors and the Strategic Council of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) along with the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA) has announced David Leatherbarrow as the 2020 recipient of the AIA/ACSA Topaz Medallion for Excellence in Architectural Education.
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 broad range of students.
For nearly four decades, Professor David Leatherbarrow has trained reflective practitioners through his graduate and undergraduate courses exploring the interdependence of design and theory. One of the world’s leading experts in the history and theory of architecture, he has supervised 30 dissertations and advised an additional 30 that included prominent leaders from around the world.
At the University of Pennsylvania’s Stuart Weitzman School of Design, where he has taught since 1984, Leatherbarrow levied his scholarship to create a foundational culture that persists to this day. For 20 years, he led the school’s first-year studio, which he coupled with a course focused on his signature integration of design and theory. In addition, he has taught the required first-semester course in the school’s PhD program, and his instruction has established fluency in architecture’s theories and history for countless scholars and teachers. His academic leadership at Penn placed him at multiple levels of design education, including two stints as associate dean and department chair, two decades as PhD program chair, and interim leadership of the school’s urban design and undergraduate architecture programs. Prior to his tenure at Penn, Leatherbarrow taught in England at Cambridge University and the University of Westminster.
Through his writings and teaching, Leatherbarrow has been a major force in shaping architectural education. As many of his students will attest, his energy and optimism for the built environment are infectious, and his positive vision is inspiring.