Teddy Cruz Wins 2018 Vilcek Prize in Architecture

 John Hill
6. February 2018
Photo: Courtesy of Vilcek Foundation
For the first time since 2007, the Vilcek Foundation, which raises awareness of immigrant contributions in America, has awarded a prize in architecture. San Diego-based architectural designer Teddy Cru is the recipient.
Established in 2006, the Vilcek Prizes are given out annually by the Vilcek Foundation "to immigrants who have made lasting contributions to American society through their extraordinary achievements in biomedical research and the arts and humanities." Each year two prizes are given out, one in biomedical research and one in a rotating arts and humanities discipline (architecture, music, film, culinary arts, literature, dance, contemporary music, design, fashion, theatre, and fine arts.) Architect Denise Scott Brown received the first Vilcek Prize in Architecture in 2007, making Teddy Cruz only the second architect to receive the Vilcek Prize, which comes with $100,000 and a one-of-a-kind trophy designed by Stefan Sagmeister.

Cruz, principal of Estudio Teddy Cruz + Fonna Forman, is a timely choice given how he and his partner focus their research-based political and architectural practice on the San Diego-Tijuana border region. Born in Guatemala, Cruz immigrated to the U.S. in 1982, when he was 20, settling in Southern California. Educated in architecture at California State Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo and then Harvard University, he returned to the area in 2000 to investigate border conditions. 

Recent projects consist of what he describes as cross-border community stations: "A new form of public space that educates... This project is a network of hubs located in marginalized communities, where teaching and research can be conducted collaboratively." In terms of his proactive process: "It’s not enough to design the physical systems. We also need to design the political, civic, and economic processes that would enable those physical systems to be truly inclusive."

The jury for the 2018 Vilcek Prize in Architecture was made up of Barry Bergdoll, Professor of Art History and Archaeology, Columbia University; Sarah Herda, Director of the Graham Foundation; Cathleen McGuigan, Editor in Chief of Architectural Record; Benjamin Prosky, Executive Director of the American Institute of Architects New York Chapter; Tod Williams, partner at Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects.

The Vilcek Foundation will present the Vilcek Prizes at an awards ceremony held in early spring in New York City.
In addition to Teddy Cruz's Vilcek Prize in Architecture, the Vilcek Foundation has named three recipients of the Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise in Architecture. These prizes "encourage and support young immigrants who have already demonstrated exceptional achievements, and who often face significant challenges early in their careers." The winenrs include Iranian-born architect Mona Ghandi, an assistant professor of architecture at Washington State University; James Leng, who was born in China and recently established his own practice in California; and Jing Liu, also from China, co-founder of Brooklyn's SO-IL. Each will receive $50,000.

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