David Watkin

David Watkin

Author and architecture history scholar challenges the prevailing interpretation of modernism

Acclaimed architectural historian David Watkin has been named the 2013 Henry Hope Reed Award laureate. Watkin will receive the $50,000 Reed Award in Chicago at a March 23 ceremony in conjunction with the Richard H. Driehaus Prize at the University of Notre Dame, which will be presented to Thomas H. Beeby.

Watkin, emeritus professor of History of Architecture and emeritus fellow of Peterhouse, Univeristy of Cambridge, is also an honorary fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects and has taught at the Prince of Wales’s Institute of Architecture. His research focuses on classical architecture with an emphasis on the neoclassical from the 18th century to the present.

David Watkin’s books include A History of Western Architecture and English Architecture: A Concise History. He is the recipient of the Banister Fletcher award for his Sir John Soane: Enlightenment Thought and the Royal Academy Lectures (1996), which was published by Cambridge University Press.

He first received international attention with his book Morality and Architecture: The Development of a Theme in Architectural History and Theory from the Gothic Revival to the Modern Movement (1977), which he expanded and republished under the title Morailty and Architecture Revisted (2001). In these works, Watkin challenges the prevailing interpretation of the language used to describe modernist architecture, which claims to be rational and truthful, reflecting the needs of the contemporary society.

“Through his prolific output David Watkin has given us a renewed and refreshing view of our past, present, and future by challenging contemporary attitudes that illustrate history as a series of distinct periods identified by the spirit of the age,” says Michael Lykoudis, Dean of the University of Notre Dame School of Architecture. “He has proposed a framework that respects the primacy of the interconnectedness of cultures, yet celebrates these attributes that give each time and place its distinctiveness and character.”

The Henry Hope Reed Award is given to an individual working outside the practice of architecture who has supported the cultivation of the traditional city, its architecture and art through writing, planning or promotion. It is presented annually through the University of Notre Dame School of Architecture, a national leader in incorporating the ideals of traditional and classical architecture into the task of modern urban development.

Together with the Driehaus Prize, the Reed Award represents the most significant recognition for classicism in the contemporary built environment. Recipients are selected by a jury comprised of Adele Chatfield-Taylor (President of the American Academy in Rome), Robert Davis (Developer and Founder of Seaside, Florida), Paul Goldberger (Architecture Critic for Vanity Fair), Léon Krier (Inaugural Driehaus Prize Laureate), Demetri Porphyrios (architect, author and 2004 Driehaus Prize Laureate) and Witold Rybczynski (Meyerson Professor Emeritus of Urbanism at the University of Pennsylvania).