Today, the United States Artists Foundation announced the 50 winners of its annual award program. Each winner, including five in the category of architecture and design, will receive a $50,000 grant.

United States Artists is an advocacy group dedicated to supporting America’s artists working across diverse disciplines. The organization launched in September 2005 with $22 million in seed funding provided by a coalition of leading foundations—Ford, Rockefeller, Prudential, and Rasmuson. This initial investment enabled the organization to pilot the program, which is now in its fifth year.

For a full list of winners, visit the organization’s Web site.

Million Dollar Blocks, a project by Laura Kurgan’s Spatial Information Design Lab at Columbia University. Click on the slide show icon to see work by all five winners.

2009 Architecture and Design Winners

Neil Denari
Los Angeles, California
Throughout his career, Neil Denari has focused on the technical and formal impact of technology on architecture. In the late 1980s his work began to achieve international recognition, launching a long-enduring association with Japan, a country where he has taught and lectured on a regular basis. During this time, he established his firm Neil M. Denari Architects (NMDA) in Los Angeles in 1988. He is a dedicated teacher, a tenured professor at UCLA, and the former director of SCI-Arc (from 1997-2001). His buildings are known for their folded forms and continuous surfaces, and he is known for his fine renderings.

Laura Kurgan
New York, N.Y.
Laura Kurgan is the director of visual studies and director of the Spatial Information Design Lab at Columbia University. This unique interdisciplinary design practice blends academic research with design, information, communication, advocacy, and architecture. In her work, she gathers data about social issues and makes it accessible to users through innovative design. She works mostly with nonprofits such as New Visions for Public Schools on education reform and Justice Mapping on the costs of incarceration.

Rick Lowe
Houston, Texas
From the beginning of his career, Lowe has been committed to merging art with activism. His most visible work, Project Row Houses (PRH), involves refurbishing a neighborhood in Houston’s Northern Third Ward, one of the city’s oldest African-American communities. Consisting of an abandoned one-and-a-half block site of 22 shotgun-style houses, the project transforms decrepit buildings into art galleries, workshop spaces, offices, and housing for young single African-American mothers.

Kate and Laura Mulleavy
Pasadena, California
The Pasadena, California–based siblings Kate and Laura Mulleavy established their clothing label, Rodarte, in 2005 and have since been recognized as one of the most important fashion houses in the United States. They create one-of-a-kind gowns and ready-to-wear knitwear, which are coveted for their craftsmanship and unique, imaginative designs, which feature complicated cascades of fabrics. In 2009, the Council of Fashion Designers of America named Rodarte the Womenswear Designer of the Year.

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