Architects Marion Weiss and Michael Manfredi, co-founders of a New York-based architectural design firm named one of North America’s “Emerging Voices” by the Architectural League of New York, are the 2020 recipients of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medal in Architecture.
Their multidisciplinary practice, WEISS/MANFREDI Architecture/Landscape/Urbanism, is at the forefront of redefining the relationships between landscape, architecture, infrastructure and art. Their award-winning projects include the Seattle Art Museum’s Olympic Sculpture Park in Seattle, which Time Magazine identified as one of the top 10 projects in the world. Integrating art, architecture and ecology, the park has won numerous other honors, and was the first project in North America to win Harvard University’s Veronica Rudge Green Prize in Urban Design.
Most recently, WEISS/MANFREDI was selected through an international competition to re-imagine the world-renowned La Brea Tar Pits and Museum in Los Angeles.
The medals, typically presented in person at UVA and Monticello, will be given in absentia this year due to ongoing efforts to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus and limitations on events and travel.
Weiss, who earned her undergraduate degree in architecture at UVA and her graduate degree from the Yale School of Architecture, is currently the Graham Chair Professor of Practice at the University of Pennsylvania and has taught design studios at Harvard University, Yale University and Cornell University. She was also an Eero Saarinen Visiting Professor at Yale University. In 2017, she was honored by Architectural Record with the Women in Architecture Design Leader Award. She is also a fellow of the American Institute of Architects and a National Academy of Design inductee.
Manfredi is currently a senior design critic at Harvard University. Born in Trieste, Italy, and raised in Rome, Manfredi completed his undergraduate education in the U.S. and received a Master of Architecture degree from Cornell University. He has taught design studios at Yale, the University of Pennsylvania, Princeton University and Cornell University. In addition to being a founding board member of the Van Alen Institute, he is also a fellow of the American Institute of Architects and a National Academy of Design inductee.
WEISS/MANFREDI is known for placing environmental stewardship and sustainability at the core of their work, and for their design projects that require progressive ecological and infrastructural frameworks. In addition to the Seattle Museum of Art’s Olympic Sculpture Park, these frameworks are evident in their award-winning and public-facing projects such as Hunter’s Point South Waterfront Park on the East River in New York, winner of the 2019 Masterworks Award for “Best Urban Landscape” and one of four projects selected as “Best Architecture of 2018” by The Wall Street Journal. The Krishna P. Singh Center for Nanotechnology, a state-of-the-art lab facility at the University of Pennsylvania, earned WEISS/MANFREDI an AIA Institute Honor Award. The firm’s design for the visitor center at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden won the NY Public Design Commission Award for Excellence in Design and an American Society of Landscape Architects Honor Award.
“As designers, Marion Weiss and Michael Manfredi have been critically redefining the relationship between landscape, architecture and urbanism through their work, which not only underscores the significance that Thomas Jefferson attributed to these intertwined realms, but also speaks to the necessity, in our current age, to transcend traditional disciplinary boundaries and create newly integrated cultural-ecological paradigms,” School of Architecture Dean Ila Berman said. “Their transformation of coastal urban brownfields in Seattle and New York has breathed new life back into these cities, while generating truly public spaces that support inclusiveness and social equity. Innovative, thoughtful and carefully crafted, their works are both powerful and beautiful – urban social condensers and light-filled landscapes that express the profound cultural significance and transformative potential of architecture.”
Other built works include the Tata Innovation Center at Cornell Tech in New York City; the Museum of the Earth in Ithaca, New York; and the Women’s Memorial and Education Center at Arlington National Cemetery, winner of a Federal Design Architectural Award. WEISS/MANFREDI’s current projects include Yale University’s Tsai Center for Innovative Thinking, The Tampa Museum of Art expansion, and the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi, India, which breaks ground in spring 2020.
WEISS/MANFREDI won the 2018 Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Institution’s National Design Award, the New York AIA Gold Medal and the Academy Award in Architecture from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. They have been featured in exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the National Building Museum, the Essen Design Centre in Germany, the Louvre Museum and the Venice Biennale. Princeton Architectural Press has published three monographs on their work, including Public Natures: Evolutionary Infrastructures.
On the anniversary of Thomas Jefferson’s birthday, April 13 (known locally as Founder’s Day), the University of Virginia and the Thomas Jefferson Foundation at Monticello join together to present the Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medals to recognize achievements of those who embrace endeavors in which Jefferson, the author of the Declaration of Independence and third U.S. president, excelled and held in high regard. These medals are the highest external honors bestowed by the University of Virginia, which grants no honorary degrees. For information on Founder’s Day, the Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medals and the 2020 recipients, click here.