On February 5, the National Academy in New York, one of the country's oldest arts organizations, honored architectural firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro with the Lifetime Achievement Award and businessman, philanthropist and art collector William Louis-Dreyfus with the Advancement of American Art Award at the Academy’s 2014 Spring Gala. Dwell was proud to be a media sponsor for the event and to be associated with an institution that has so long been dedicated to promoting architecture as an art form.
The Academy was founded in 1825 by artists Samuel F. B. Morse, Thomas Cole, and Asher B. Durand as a place to exhibit and teach art. Today, the Academy includes over 300 living artists and architect members. Each year, artists and architects are named by their peers as National Academicians. Recently elected Academicians include Vito Acconci, Moshe Safdie, Renzo Piano, William Pedersen, David Adjaye, and Kate Orff.
The president of the Academy’s board of governors, Bruce Fowle, principal at FXFOWLE Architects, says that the institution’s focus swings back and forth from art to architecture depending on who is at the helm, and that he has been working for the last few years to create a stronger membership among his fellow architects. He also oversaw the museum’s recent renovation, hiring Bade Stageberg Cox to modernize existing galleries and create new educational spaces for students and faculty.
Geoffrey Canada, the American social activist and educator, gave a stirring introduction on behalf of honoree and art collector William Louis-Dreyfus. Most of his collection will ultimately benefit Geoffrey Canada’s Harlem Children’s Zone through the sale of works by the William Louis-Dreyfus Foundation. Diller Scofidio + Renfro were awarded for their contributions to American architecture by the Academy’s Director Carmine Branagan.