december 8, 2006
  Lance Jay Brown, FAIA, Awarded Topaz Medallion

Summary: The AIA Board and the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA) on December 7 named professor and urban planner Lance Jay Brown, FAIA, the 2007 recipient of the Topaz Medallion for Excellence in Architectural Education. The AIA/ACSA Topaz Medallion honors an individual who has made outstanding contributions to architecture education for at least 10 years, whose teaching has influenced a broad range of students, and who has helped shape the minds of those who will shape our environment.

Distinguished educator
A native New Yorker, Brown was educated at Cooper Union and Harvard’s Graduate School of Design and was a Fulbright Scholar in Paris. His 38-year career is particularly notable for his intellectual leadership in academia, from Princeton University’s School of Architecture through his long tenure as a professor at the City College of New York’s School of Architecture, Urban Design, and Landscape Architecture, where he served as associate dean, chair, and director for 10 years. He currently serves CCNY as coordinator of design. His academic activities also include serving as a special advisor working with a student team at the “1997 Mostar 2004 Urban Reconstruction Workshop,” Bosnia Hercegovina, and co-directing (with Robert Geddes, FAIA) “Crosstown 116: Bringing Habitat II Home from Istanbul to Harlem.”

Noted author
Brown’s numerous publications include:

  • Planning and Design Workbook for Community Participation (with B.P. Spring, H. Weber, et al, 1970)
  • Editor, Design Arts I, II (National Endowment for the Arts, 1980–1982)
  • Between Expedience and Deliberation: Decision-Making for Post 9-11 New York (Special Edition Properties, Baruch College, 2002)
  • Introduction and Chapter 2 of Learning from Lower Manhattan (by Stephen A. Kliment, FAIA, 2005).

“Lance is held in high esteem by his peers in education, students of architecture, and the profession alike, and has positively advanced design excellence in our nation through his fervent advocacy for good design and social responsibility reflected in his prolific results through teaching, academic administration, writing, research, speaking and practice,” notes 1990 AIA President and current Chair of HKS Ronald L. Skaggs, FAIA.

Citizen architect
Brown also is distinguished in the realms of public discourse, seeking solutions to society’s needs through architecture, planning, and urban design. He has led CCNY’s Urban Consortium and participated in projects important to New York City’s future. Working with teams of students and professionals, often from around the country, Brown has conducted programs on the reconstruction of Manhattan’s Upper West Side, Far West Side, Greenpoint-Williamsburgh, Downtown Brooklyn, downtown Newark, and afield in New Orleans, Detroit, and New Haven. In the last few years, he has devoted much time to working with New York New Visions and the Lower Manhattan Development Commission on the reconstruction of Lower Manhattan.

Brown also has participated in numerous National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB) accreditation teams and validation conferences, ACSA conferences, and R/UDAT (Regional/Urban Design Assistance Teams). He also served as chair of the AIA Regional and Urban Design Knowledge Community. “Lance has always been a charismatic, imaginative, creative teacher and architect,” writes noted architect and planner Robert Geddes, FAIA, himself a Topaz Medallion recipient, former dean and professor of architecture at Princeton, and former Luce Professor at New York University. “For leadership in civic engagement over many decades, I strongly urge his being awarded the Topaz Medallion.”

“Lance Jay Brown has lived and worked the life of a teacher in the largest sense. He effectively makes students of everyone, expanding the range of their education, helping them to accumulate knowledge and to learn how to use it,” concluded the Topaz Medallion jury. “The excitement and energy Lance Brown brings to his classes and studios convey his optimism and belief in the potential of education and the architecture profession to create a more just, relevant, and beautiful future, encouraging each student to work to his or her highest capabilities.”

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The Topaz Medallion will be presented to Brown at the ACSA annual meeting in March 2007 in Philadelphia and in May at the 2007 AIA National Convention in San Antonio.