Marion Weiss and Michael Manfredi Win Jefferson Medal

John Hill
3. April 2020
Marion Weiss and Michael Manfredi (Photo courtesy of WEISS/MANFREDI)

UVA does not grant honorary degrees. Instead, in collaboration with the Jefferson Foundation, it gives out medals annually in fields of special interest to Thomas Jefferson: architecture, citizen leadership, global innovation, and law. In addition to Weiss and Manfredi's joint medal in Architecture the other recipients are Dr. Rajiv J. Shah (Citizen Leadership), Ted Turner (Global Innovation), and Sonia Sotomayor (Law). The medals would be given in person on April 13, Jefferson's birthday, but as UVA President Jim Ryan said, "the virus had other ideas." 

"Still," he continued, "I hope they will accept these medals as a token of our admiration and gratitude. Together, they have devoted their lives to areas of study and practice that Thomas Jefferson cared deeply about. And they have done so with an eye toward improvement – recognizing that, while our pursuit of high ideals will always be imperfect, hope lies in the striving."

Likewise, Weiss and Manfredi will give their 2020 Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medalists in Architecture Public Talk online via Zoom on April 20 at 5pm EST.

Time magazine identified Seattle Art Museum’s Olympic Sculpture Park as "one of the top 10 projects in the world." (Photo: Benjamin Benschneider)

Marion Weiss and Michael Manfredi founded WEISS/MANFREDI in New York in 1989, when they won the competition for the Women’s Memorial and Education Center at Arlington National Cemetery. In the more than thirty years since, the multidisciplinary practice has moved to what UVA describes as "the forefront of redefining the relationships between landscape, architecture, infrastructure and art." The announcement for the medal singles out the Olympic Sculpture Park, completed in Seattle to wide acclaim in 2007, as an example of such an approach. Other notable projects in that vein include the Brooklyn Botanic Garden Visitor Center (completed in 2012, expanded in 2019) and Hunter’s Point South Waterfront Park, a two-phase project built on former industrial space along the East River in Queens.

UVA School of Architecture Dean Ila Berman said of the duo: "Marion Weiss and Michael Manfredi have been critically redefining the relationship between landscape, architecture and urbanism. Their transformation of coastal brownfields in Seattle and New York has breathed new life back into these cities, while generating truly public spaces that support inclusiveness and social equity. Innovative, thoughtful and carefully crafted, their works are both powerful and beautiful—urban social condensers and light-filled landscapes that express the profound cultural significance and transformative potential of architecture."

Most recently, WEISS/MANFREDI won the international competition to re-imagine the La Brea Tar Pits and Museum in Los Angeles. (Visualization: WEISS/MANFREDI Architecture/Landscape/Urbanism)

The Jefferson Foundation Medal in Architecture was created in 1966, when it was given to Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. Recent winners include Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa, David Adjaye, Yvonne Farrell and Shelly McNamara, Cecil Balmond, Herman Hertzberger, Toyo Ito, Laurie Olin, and Rafael Moneo.

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