AIA Wisconsin Golden Award

AIAWI Golden Award

The purpose of the WSA Golden Award is to recognize an individual Wisconsin Architect who has performed most distinguished leadership and service to the WSA/AIA over an extended period of time, and by so doing has advanced the cause of the profession and provided inspiration to his or her peers. The WSA Golden Award is the highest honor that the WSA/AIA can bestow on one of its members.

Statement of Design Problem

Design an award that symbolizes the timeless spirit of architecture and incorporates an appropriate reference to the beautiful State of Wisconsin.

Design Considerations

Form... What form would be significant for the WSA Golden Award?

The Golden Rectangle is a rectangle whose sides are in the proportion of 1 to 1.618.

This rectangular proportion has been used from ancient Greek times to the present and

it is considered one of the most visually satisfying of all geometric forms. The golden rectangle proportion can be found in the ancient Greek Parthenon Temple at Athens; in

the 16th century architectural work of Michelangelo; and in 20th century architectural works of Le Corbusier and Mies van der Rohe. Because of the golden rectangle's 2500 years of architectural history, it was felt appropriate that this beautiful, perfect, geometric form should be the basis for the WSA Golden Award.

A vertical format was also selected because verticality expresses dignity and an uplifting of the spirit which is part of the symbolic purpose of the WSA Golden Award.

Dimensions . . What dimensions would be significant for the WSA Golden Award?

American architects use feet and inches as their basic units of measurement, therefore 12 inches (one foot) and 1 inch are significant dimensions to Wisconsin architects. Another significant architectural dimension is 4 inches and multiples of 4 inches. Brick is 4 x 8 inches and masonry blocks are 8 x 8 x 16 inches, etc.

Materials . . . What materials would be significant for the WSA Golden Award?

Wood, glass, stone, brick and bronze are both ancient and contemporary building materials which have been used in architecture for over 6000 years. Steel, aluminum, concrete and plastics are relatively new materials with a short architectural history. Bronze and glass were chosen for the award because of their 6000 year architectural history and their reputation as quality materials. Gold and gems are also ancient materials that were in­corporated into the award for their symbolism, richness and perfection.

Symbols ... What symbols would be significant for the WSA Golden Award as a reference to architecture and also to the State of Wisconsin?

Frank Lloyd Wright is Wisconsin's most famous architect and his personal symbol was a "red square." The "red square" was incorporated into the award as a symbolic reference to this most famous Wisconsin architect. One of the beautiful features of Wisconsin is its four seasons which the Golden Award symbolizes by using a color reference.

Design Solution

Based on the above design considerations the WSA Golden Award's final design solution con­sists of a vertical bronze bar, exactly 12 inches high (one foot), with a satin, lacquer finish. The cross section of the bar is exactly 1 inch thick and 1.618 inches wide which is the golden rectangle proportion. At the top of the bar is a polished 14 karat gold vertical rectangle .618 inches wide and 1 inch high, which is also the golden rectangle proportion. Inside the gold rectangle is a large square red garnet gemstone (Frank Lloyd Wright symbol), and four small square-mounted colored gemstones to represent the four seasons of Wisconsin. The small gemstones consist of the following: "white zircon" to represent the ice and snow of winter; "green peridot" to represent the green leaves of spring; "blue topaz" to represent the blue skies and blue waters of summer; "golden yellow citrine" to represent the golden leaves of autumn. Finally, the bronze bar rests on a 4 inch square dark brown glass base.

1986 Design Committee: Frank Dropsho, AIA, Chair, R. Potter, AIA, R. Shutter, AIA, F. Zimmermann, AIA

Golden Award Criteria & Nomination Form (PDF)


1986 | David E. Lawson, FAIA        

1987 | Paul H. Graven, FAIA          

1988 | Mark A. Pfaller, FAIA          

1989 | Wayne E. Spangler, FAIA        

1991 | Leonard H. Reinke, FAIA        

1992 | Nathaniel W. Sample, FAIA        

1993 | Harry A. Schroeder, AIA      

1994 | John P. Jacoby, FAIA        

1995 | Noble E. Rose, AIA      

1996 | Douglas H. Smith, AIA (posthumously)        

1997 | Gary V. Zimmerman, FAIA        

1998 | James W. Miller, FAIA        

2000 | George A.D. Schuett, FAIA        

2001 | Roger D. Roslansky, AIA        

2002 | Frederick E. Zimmermann, AIA        

2003 | Horst W. Lobe, AIA        

2004 | Robert D. Cooper, AIA        

2005 | Lisa L. Kennedy, AIA        

2006 | A. James Gersich, AIA        

2007 | Cherie K. Claussen, AIA        

2008 | Joseph H. Flad, FAIA (posthumously)        

2009 | William P. Wenzler, FAIA        

2010 | Brian F. Larson, AIA        

2011 | Kevin J. Connolly, AIA          

2011 | Frank  Dropsho, AIA [Special]          

2012 | Thomas R. Cox, AIA          

2013 | Josh O. Johnson, AIA          

2014 | Thomas E. Hirsch, FAIA          

2015 | Robert E. Shipley, AIA                    

2016 | William M. Babcock, Hon.AIA

Image credits

AIAWI Golden Award

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