A retrospective view of 2010 AIA Gold Medalist, Peter Bohlin - Part 1 Print
Sunday, 06 December 2009 11:45

The Board of Directors of The American Institute of Architects (AIA) voted on December 3rd to award the 2010 AIA Gold Medal to Peter Bohlin, FAIA. Bohlin, founder of Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, which has five U.S. offices, is renowned for his versatile, contextual use of materials.

All Photographs are courtesy of the AIA

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The AIA Gold Medal, voted on annually, is considered to be the profession’s highest honor that an individual can receive. The Gold Medal honors an individual whose significant body of work has had a lasting influence on the theory and practice of architecture. Bohlin will be honored at the 2010 AIA National Convention in Miami.

“I’m so pleased and I’m surprised,” said Bohlin upon hearing the the AIA’s Board decision. “We all believe in architecture. It is our life to a great extent. Like athletes, we all know that it’s hard work to make it look easy, and we’re all constantly striving to do that.”

Ledge House in Catoctin Mountains, Maryland
A House that builds a serene, natural light-bathed retreat in Maryland's Catoctin Mountain region by arranging a series of timber and stone pavilions in a horseshoe pattern.


Forest House in West Cornwall, Connecticut
Designed by Bohlin for his parents in 1975

Over the course of his long career, Bohlin has designed superlative rural houses, nature centers as well as excellent urban buildings. The key to success for both building types is their contextual use of materials. “He moves from the log cabin to the glass box with the same unassailable ethic that has for hundreds of years defined and shaped an architectural tradition rooted in the exercise of knowledge and made unique only by the personal will, character, and imagination of its creator,” wrote Mack Scogin, FAIA, of Mack Scogin Merrill Elam Architects, in a recommendation letter.


Peter_bohlin_09 Combs Point Residence in Finger Lakes Region, New York
"Combs Point ... uses the grace of the land to place itself. It begins in a ravine which extends to the edge of the lake. At the end, at that moment, it evaporates into the lake. What do we see in these projects? We see architecture OF nature. Not IN it, above it or instead of it." James Timberlake, FAIA

“His architecture clearly communicates that buildings are not just placed on the landscape, but are part of the landscape and indeed enhance the experience of nature,” wrote Ed Feiner, FAIA, former General Services Administration chief architect, in a letter of recommendation.


Pixar Studios and Headquarters inEmeryville, California
Far from a regular office building, Bohlin imagined the Pixar Headquarters as a 'home away from home' for the staffers that worked long hours. Talking about Architect's design, Pixar's CEO, Steve Jobs, said: "He didn't want a standard office-park building—one with corrugated-metal siding or ribbon windows. The building had to look good 100 years from now. That was his main criterion."



Peter_bohlin_18 Peter_bohlin_19The Apple Store Fifth Avenue in New York City
A pure, pristine glass cube absent any structural steel that takes visitors below ground, away from its busy urban milieu, and into one of Apple’s flagship retail destinations.
Ada Louise Huxtable, critiquing the Fifth Avenue Apple Store, stated: ‘who could have imagined that the General Motors Building, (which) brought mediocrity to the most elegant part of New York’s Fifth Avenue, would be redeemed by the Apple Store’s magic crystal cube?’"


More on Peter Bohlin and his impressive body of work in Part 2 of this article

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Last Updated on Monday, 07 December 2009 07:23