League Prize 2004: If . . . Then

Established in 1981 to recognize visionary work by young practitioners, The Architectural League Prize is an annual competition, lecture series, and exhibition led by the League and its Young Architects + Designers Committee.

Recently, the public’s imagination has been stimulated by ambitious building and redevelopment proposals that offer a rereading of cities and their public institutions. Architecture has reemerged as a channel for the hopes and aspirations of society to provide symbols of cultural value and spaces for cultural production. These new visions challenge social and political assumptions about architectural production and offer an opportunity for rethinking site, program, form, technology, and materials. Architectural invention relies on the presentation of a story, or speculative fiction. The projection of what will happen, and how it will transform the urban experience is often a social fiction that imagines new relationships and social structures.

Every architectural project, at any scale, is preceded by an act of imagination, an architectural fiction that speculates on future events in a space that does not yet exist. This fiction starts with programs and site and it drives project development by translating ideas into built form. How do we anticipate the results? Is it possible for our speculations to prompt certain effects or is architecture a product of its own social fiction? What effects do our speculations generate? What are the relationships between broader social conditions and our individual fictions, between fiction and construction? What possibilities can architecture present within the framework of the built environment in writing these social fictions?

Winners included:

  • Fernando Romero of LCM
  • Tom Wiscombe of Emergent
  • Anthony Piermarini & Hansy Better Barraza of Studio Luz
  • Keith Mitnick, Mireille Roddier, & Stewart Hicks
  • Gail Peter Borden of Borden Partnership
  • Tobias Lundquist of Miloby Ideasystem

The theme was developed by the 2004 Young Architects + Designers Committee, comprised of past League Prize winners Stella Betts, Makram El-Kadi, and Eric Liftin.

The jury included Betts, El-Kadi, and Liftin, in addition to Preston Scott Cohen, Cynthia Davidson, Michael Maltzan, and Wendy Evans Joseph.

The competition is organized by The Architectural League’s program director, Anne Rieselbach.

More from past League Prize winners

Ultramoderne lecture

What separates architecture from other disciplines, say the founders of Ultramoderne, is that it unites the conceptual, social, and material.