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15 April 2005

Frank Weiner Wins First Place in the Competition for the EAAE Prize 2003-2005

Frank H. Weiner, associate professor in the School of Architecture + Design has won the European Association for Architectural Education Prize 2003-2005. A biennial international competition on the subject of architectural education, the EAAE Prize was first awarded in 1991, “with the aim to stimulate original writings on the subject of architectural education in order to improve the quality of architectural education in Europe.”

Weiner has been at Virginia Tech since 1987 and received his bachelor’s from Tulane University (1980), a master’s from Columbia University (1987), and has served as co-chair of the Graduate Programs in Architecture (1996 � 1997), as Head of the Department of Architecture at Virginia Tech (1997 � 2003) and was the founding interim director of the School of Architecture + Design (2003).

Weiner was named one of 10 first-stage finalists in October 2004. He later presented his paper at an invited workshop to an international jury in Copenhagen, Denmark, in November. Notable jury members included architect Juhani Pallasmaa and historian Alberto Perez-Gomez. The VELUX Corporation, a well-known Danish manufacturer of roof windows and skylights sponsors the competition. Weiner will receive the award at a prize ceremony to be held in Dublin, Ireland, on March 16.

The EAAE is an international non-profit association committed to the exchange of ideas and people within the field of architectural education and research. It has more than 100 active member schools and almost 5,000 tenured faculty members. Faculty from all EAAE member schools and all US schools that are members of the Architectural Research Centers Consortium (ARCC) and ACSA (Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture) were eligible to compete.

The competition focused on the question: “How will the demands of the information society and ‘new knowledge’ affect the demand for relevant or necessary ‘know how’ in architectural education?”

In Weiner’s award winning essay entitled, “Five Critical Horizons for Architectural Educators in an Age of Distraction,” five contemporary societal forces are identified that significantly impact the context of architectural education today—accountability, sustainability, the global economy, information technology, and the politics of transparency. These forces or ‘fundamental distractions’ are in turn countered by developing a set of five horizons—teaching, history/theory/criticism, philosophy, literature, and sensibility. Each of the five horizons offers a broad platform from which to critically view the challenges that face architectural educators as they collectively seek future directions.

“Architectural educators should not simply react to current demands but seek to be autonomously responsible for the dignity of their inquiry and activity that responds to the nature of architecture,” Weiner said. “We are in a sense free to choose our distractions rather than have them imposed on us from the outside.”