A Prize for Robert A. M. Stern

Robert A. M. Stern brings glamor to this year’s Driehaus Prize. Glamor is something the Driehaus sorely needs. Founded in 2003 by Chicago investment manager Richard H. Driehaus, the prize is intended to balance that other Chicago architectural award, the Pritzker Prize. While the Pritzker is relentlessly avant-garde in its selections, the Driehaus honors classical architecture and traditional urbanism. Although the public generally favors traditional over modernist architecture, the Driehaus Prize has not had a high profile. Maybe having two major architecture prizes is simply one too many, or maybe the Pritzker simply staked out the “Nobel prize of architecture” territory first. In fact, sometimes the Driehaus seems too much like the Nobel Prize for Literature, primly singling out little-known architects: the last two laureates were Rafael Manzano Martos and Abdel-Wahed El-Wakil, hardly household names. Stern, a high-profile practitioner, prolific author, and dean at Yale, is very well-known indeed.

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