The five finalists for the inaugural Curry Stone Design Prize will be officially announced tomorrow at the Venice Biennale’s 11th annual Architecture Exhibition. Founded by architect Clifford Curry and his wife, H. Delight Stone, and administered by the University of Kentucky (UK) College of Design, the prize will be given each year to an individual or group for “exceptional emerging design innovations that contribute positively to living circumstances for broad sections of global humanity.”

Modeling itself on the MacArthur Fellowship, the Curry Stone Prize invites an anonymous pool of 75 to 100 leading designers and global thinkers to nominate between one and three designers each. A jury, comprised this year of an international group of five, selects the finalists and the winner. The winner is awarded $100,000, and up to four of the finalists receive $10,000 each. The 2008 finalists are Shawn Frayne, Wes Janz, MMA Architects, Marjetica Potrc, and Antonio Scarponi. The winner will be announced on September 25, at the IdeaFestival in Louisville, Kentucky.

The prize aims “to make design more prominent as a tool of social good,” says David Mohney, AIA, former dean of the UK College of Design and current Curry Stone Chair in Design. As he recalls the donor often saying “design needs to be at the table,” and the prize will encourage the public to give it a seat, allow designers to make an impact around the world, and inspire future generations to follow in their footsteps. Mohney also notes that Michael Speaks, who became dean of the UK College of Design this year, plans to build on the prize at his university by developing a graduate or post-graduate research area focused on social justice issues.

Award details, along with juror biographies and finalist profiles, are posted at currystonedesignprize.com.

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