The AIA Gold Medalis awarded to an architect (living or deceased), or an architect-duo by the American Institute of Architects every year to honor their exemplary contributions to the field- both in theory as well as the built realm. It is among one of the highest honors bestowed upon architects and sheds light on what is truly some of the best work from all around the globe- something to be looked up to and be inspired by. So, here are ten winners of the AIA Gold Medal to inspire you:

1. Marlon Blackwell (2020)

Marlon Blackwell is the founder and Principal Architect at Marlon Blackwell Architects, a practice founded in 1992, along with being a university professor in the United States. Known for his “glocal” approach, he believes in creating environmentally sensitive architecture across scales and budgets. He has also received multiple accolades for his teaching such as the title of “2020 SEC Professor of the Year”.

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Marlon Blackwell ©
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Thaden Reels, a project by Marlon Blackwell Architects ©
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Shelby Farms Park Visitor Centre, a project by Marlon Blackwell Architects ©

2. Richard Rogers (2019)

As one of the architects for the Pompidou Center in Paris, Richard Rogers’ famous ideology of “celebrating the components of structure” is reflected in most of his works. Rogers has been cited as one of the pioneers of the “High-tech” architecture movement in Britain. In the later part of his career, he has also addressed other wide range of topics and problems surrounding architecture like city planning, housing, and sustainability. 

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Richard Rogers ©Martin Bureau/AFP/Getty
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Pompidou Center, Paris by Richard Rogers and Renzo Piano ©
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Lloyds Building, another project by Richard Rogers ©

3. Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown (2016)

Collaboration lasting close to 60 years, their work is a fitting symbiosis of two minds and two styles of architecture. Their work, such as the ‘Chapel at Episcopal Academy’ and the ‘Seattle Art Museum’ explore a playful amalgamation of the historic and traditional with popular culture. Their built-work, as well as writing, such as the famed “Learning From Las Vegas”, highly influenced post-modernism in architecture.

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Seattle Art Museum ©
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Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown ©
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Chapel at Episcopal Academy ©

4. Julia Morgan (2014)

Julia Morgan (1872-1957) received the 2014 AIA Gold Medal posthumously and is the first woman to receive the prize. Hailing from California, she was also the first woman to attend École des Beaux-Arts in Paris. In addition to being a brilliant designer, well-versed with several historical styles, she was also a civil engineer and had expertise in R.C.C. based earthquake-resistant structures, which was rare back in the early 1900s.  

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Julia Morgan ©
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The Hearst Castle By Julia Morgan ©
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Oakland YWCA by Julia Morgan ©

5. Fumihiko Maki (2011)

Fumihiko Maki is a Japanese architect, professor, and founder of the Tokyo-based architecture firm Maki and Associates. His work is a unique take on modernism in that it appears to be an amalgamation of materials, spaces, and forms, including pure geometrical forms such as cones, pyramids, and cylinders as design elements. The juxtaposition of these seemingly disparate forms into one was what Maki termed as “group forms”, thereby breaking the rigidity of volumes.

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Fumihiko Maki ©
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Spiral Building, Tokyo by Maki and Associates ©
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Kemper Art Museum by Maki and Associates ©

6. Peter Bohlin (2010)

One of the architects behind the renowned Apple Store at 5th Avenue, New York, Peter Bohlin of Bohlin Cywinski Jackson architects had created people-centered, experiential architecture, which is complemented with the advances in technology. Paul Goldberger, an American architecture critic has described him as a, “romantic modernist, determined to use the form of modernism to achieve the emotional impact of traditionalism.”

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Peter Bohlin ©
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Entrance to the Apple Store at 5th Avenue, New York ©
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Thomas M. Siebel Center for Computer Science by BCJ Architects ©

7. Antoine Predock (2006)

Creating buildings that generate an effect of almost emerging from the surrounding landscape, Antoine Predock says that his buildings are“like rides; they reveal both the topical and the timeless”. To him, architecture is experiential rather than linear. He believes that each place has its own unique “clues” from which the architecture can be derived. Predock’s idea of architecture being a “poetic encounter” is highly prevalent in his grounded, discerning works.

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Antoine Predock ©
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Austin City Hall, Austin, Texas by Antoine Predock ©
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Flint River Quarium, Albany, Georgia ©

8. Santiago Calatrava (2005)

Santiago Calatrava is an architect who wears many hats. In addition to being an architect, he is also a structural engineer, sculptor, and painter. Known for buildings and bridges whose structures push the boundaries, he can merge structure and architecture into one. His works are not only structurally adept, but his way of thinking of architecture as art also makes them visually stunning, which has evolved into a style termed as “neo-futuristic.”

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Santiago Calatrava ©
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City of Arts and Sciences by Santiago Calatrava ©
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Alamillo Bridge by Santiago Calatrava ©

9. César Pelli (1995)

César Pelli of Pelli Clarke Pelli architects was an Argentinian-American architect who has one of the tallest buildings in the world to his name- the Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. To Pelli, each project is a “ unique condition that requires a separate act of creation.” It is formed through what Pelli stated, a “coincidence”, of the information that is available and how he happens to feel in the moment.

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César Pelli ©
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Petronas Twin Towers ©
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Wells Fargo Center, Minneapolis, by Pelli ©

10. Thomas Jefferson (1993)

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), the third president of the United States of America, was also a prominent architect, among other things. He was posthumously awarded the AIA gold medal in 1993 for his contributions to the field. His style of architecture, famously known as “Jeffersonian Architecture”, was a take on classical architecture. He was a self-taught architect and was highly influenced by Andrea Palladio’s “The Four Books of Architecture”.

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Thomas Jefferson ©
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The Rotunda at University of Virginia by Thomas Jefferson ©
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Thomas Jefferson’s home at Poplar Forest ©

Sana Gupta has always beeninterested in too many things for her own good. Having studied architecture has only aggravated her desire to explore life through the lens of philosophy, spirituality, sociology, and psychology. Music helps her relax and writing helps her make thought-connections.