2019 Collaborative Achievement Award
The Collaborative Achievement Award recognizes the excellence that results when architects work with those from outside the profession to improve the spaces where people live and work.
Through his prolific writings, Michael Sorkin has become a role model for design professionals seeking to practice architecture in public and spirited ways. Inspiring countless architects and planners in their pursuit of more just and sustainable communities, his roles of provocative author, publisher, and teacher have made him a definitive conscience to the profession.
For more than 40 years, beginning with his tenure as architecture critic for the Village Voice to his current stint as critic at The Nation, Sorkin has used journalism to present the challenges of the built environment to a broad audience. Tackling complex issues with lucid prose, he has continuously engaged society while challenging architects. In regular op-ed columns for Architectural Record, Sorkin never shies from confronting topics such as urban inequalities, towering figures in the profession, and the architectural consequences of world events. His 1991 anthology, Exquisite Corpse: Writing on Buildings, was heralded by The Guardian as “a thorn in the flesh of America’s more complacent architects.”
As a distinguished professor and director of the Graduate Program in Urban Design at the City College of New York, Sorkin seeks a clearer definition of urban design and its implementation in an effort to improve life in cities. His Urban Design graduate program devotes a semester to solving issues in locales across the globe. Hanoi, Johannesburg, Gaza, and New Orleans have all been studied, and last year’s subject, San Jose, Costa Rica, involved students at CCNY, the University of Pennsylvania, and two Costa Rican architecture schools.
In 2005 Sorkin founded Terreform, a nonprofit studio dedicated to investigating policy, technology, and practice to create an equitable future for an urbanizing planet. Particularly important in the context of an ever-shrinking design press, Terreform’s publishing arm Urban Research (UR) provides a platform for writers and critics who might not otherwise be able to present their work to the public. While other publishers continue to pare down their offerings, UR has doubled down on the production of thought-provoking work.
With his quick mind and silver tongue, Sorkin has cemented his place as the profession’s most influential provocateur. His commitment to new avenues of thought continues to diversify design’s voices.