On the night of April 24, at a black-tie event in Washington, D.C., the principals of STUDIOS Architecture came up to the stage—and they just kept coming. The firm had flown in all 18 of its principals, from as far afield as Paris and Mumbai, to jointly accept Architectural Record’s Good Design Is Good Business Lifetime Achievement Award, presented at the American Architectural Foundation (AAF) Accent on Architecture Gala. Todd DeGarmo, the firm’s CEO, said his thanks at the podium with his colleagues fanned out behind him, all dressed in evening wear together for the first time.
Now in its third year, the award honors both architects and patrons who “consistently build the best corporate architecture,” as Record’s Editor in Chief Cathleen McGuigan said in her remarks. STUDIOS received the 2014 architecture award for a body of work that includes some of the most admired office spaces—like the New York headquarters of Bloomberg LP—and that stretches back to the early days of Apple (the firm’s first client was Steve Jobs).
This year’s patron award went to Novartis, the Swiss pharmaceutical company. Novartis has quietly commissioned a fleet of world-class firms, such as Weiss/Manfredi and Rafael Viñoly Architects, to design its campuses around the world. Novartis’ director of design, Patrick Lobdell, accepted the award, and noted that a short video shown that night had given him a new perspective on what the company had built over the years. “I was able to sit back and say: ‘How impressive is this?’”
Ron Bogle, president and CEO of the AAF, emceed the evening, which began (paradoxically) with a retrospective. It was the 25th Accent on Architecture gala, so two AAF Regents—Theodore Landmark, the president of Boston Architectural College, and Bryce Pearsall, chairman of DLR Group—joined Robert Ivy and Helene Combs Dreiling of the American Institute of Architects to reminisce about their favorite galas over the years. (For Dreiling, it was 2001, the gala at which Michael Graves received the AIA Gold Medal.)
The final honor of the night, AAF’s Keystone Award, went to the Chicago Architecture Foundation. But before that, Tom Cochran of the U.S. Conference of Mayors gave the Joseph P. Riley Jr. Award for Leadership in Urban Design to a husband-and-wife pair of civic leaders: Oscar and Carolyn Goodman, the former and current mayors of Las Vegas. Both have promoted the revival of Las Vegas’ once-moribund downtown. Oscar Goodman, martini in hand, gave the night’s most colorful speech, riffing on showgirls and mobsters. But his wife made an appeal to the crowd of architects: Move to Vegas. “Those of you who’d like to start a firm: There’s no income tax,” she said, referring to Nevada’s tax code.