Allen Eskew
Image © Architectural Record
Allen Eskew in his New Orleans office in 2011.

The American Institute of Architects announced today that New Orleans firm Eskew+Dumez+Ripple has won the 2014 Architecture Firm Award, the organization's highest honor for a firm. The announcement comes two days after the death of cofounder Allen Eskew at age 65. “This is incredibly bitter sweet,” said Eskew's longtime collaborator, Steven Dumez, in a statement released by the AIA. “Allen was tremendously proud of this nomination. We are grateful that we can reflect on what we have been able to accomplish.”

Eskew was a major figure in the New Orleans architecture world. His work includes design and masterplanning for the 1984 World's Fair and most recently "Reinventing the Crescent," an ongoing revamp of the Mississippi River waterfront, among many other projects. In June, his firm received RECORD's Good Design is Good Business award for its headquarters for the Lamar Advertising Company.

In a statement, the firm described Eskew as follows: "One can argue that buildings are the lasting legacy of any architect worth remembering. However, in Allen’s case, it can be argued that his greatest contributions and achievements are not framed by steel, glass, or mortar, but rather in the context of how they came to be. In an era of ever-increasing polarity, Allen had an uncanny knack for building consensus and progress through thoughtful discussion, creative thinking, the insertion of levity, and meaningful dialogue. Poised and confident, he led with humility, charm and an intellectual generosity that evokes a contemporary mash-up of Atticus Finch and 'the Dude.'"

In selecting Eskew+Dumez+Ripple for the annual firm award, the AIA recognized its contribution to the rebuilding of New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina. “The firm’s active civic leadership provides a stimulus for thoughtful urban reconstruction as the city heals,” wrote architect Julie Snow in a letter of recommendation to the institute quoted in today's announcement. “This kind of leadership demands a generosity of time, a patience for the public process, and a lack of self-interest that is worthy of recognition.”

Read the full statement from Eskew+Dumez+Ripple (PDF).

Read a detailed Eskew obituary in the Times-Picayune.

Read the full AIA Architecture Firm Award announcement.

View additional projects by Eskew+Dumez+Ripple.

Back in 2011, Eskew discussed his favorite historic New Orleans architecture with RECORD. Watch the video below...