Rankings of National Teaching Awards: ACSA Distinguished Professor Award & TOPAZ Medallion.

In architecture, Bernard Shaw’s often-repeated observation that those who can’t, teach, is especially wrong. Many practitioners and firms have long ties to the ivory tower, and a lot of firms have their basis in friendships that started in college.

Hideo Sasaki founded his firm in 1953 with a group of his Harvard GSD students. It evolved into a 260-person interdisciplinary firm. Sasaki was continuing the legacy of Frederick Law Olmsted Jr., who inaugurated the first professional degree program in landscape architecture at Harvard more than a century ago.

The first TOPAZ Medallion (awarded jointly by the AIA and the American Collegiate Schools of Architecture) was given in 1976 to Jean Labatut of Princeton University. Other awardees include Marcel Breuer (Harvard), Vincent Scully Jr. (Yale), Ralph Rapson (The University of Minnesota) and John Hejduk of the Cooper Union. Harvard’s present chair of the school of Architecture, Toshiko Mori, cites Hejduk as one of her major influences from her days as a student at the Cooper Union. The only other woman to receive the award is Denise Scott Brown, in 1996, for her work at the University of Pennsylvania. And we would be remiss not to mention Design Futures Council Senior Fellow, W. Cecil Steward of the University of Nebraska, who won the award in 1999. He is presently president of the Joslyn Castle Institute for Sustainable Communities.

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