Architecture affects the public in ways that may not be apparent at first glance. It's up to journalists and organizations like the American Institute of Architects (AIA) to be able to keep people aware, appreciative, and even analytical. This Thursday, the Washington, D.C. chapter of the AIA (AIA|DC) awarded D.C. journalist Kriston Capps for his coverage on architecture and art at CityLab as well as his works in The Atlantic, Washington City Paper, and Architect magazine. With the first ever Sarah Booth Conroy Prize for Journalism and Architectural Criticism, Capps earned $5,000, which was funded by the AIA|DC and sponsored by Shalom Baranes Associates.
On how he felt about winning the prize, Capps told Curbed, "There's a lot of talent here, so it was a surprise and validating." While always interested in architecture and design, Capps further spoke on how he views the way he approaches his reporting on the topics, saying:
"I don't think of what I do when I write about architecture as criticism really ... I like to write about the argument in a building, or in planning, or in policy, the arguments that guide the built environment. Sometimes, these things reach back into history. Sometimes, they can be very current and trendy, but architecture in building and design obviously affect everybody. It touches everyone, and exploring the sort of reasons why and the arguments behind the reasons why they're happening is exciting."The jury for awarding the Sarah Booth Conroy Prize for Journalism and Architectural Criticism included Shalom Baranes, Senior Director of Media Relations at AIA National Scott Frank, and journalist Claire Conroy. According to a press release, the jury described Capps as "a good cage-rattler" who "addresses critical local design projects and issues."
Executive Director of the AIA|DC Mary Fitch told Curbed that about 10 journalists applied for the prize, ranging from well-established reporters to up-and-coming bloggers. The prize is named after Sarah Booth Conroy, a Washington Post reporter who focused on architecture and city history for over 30 years. The AIA|DC and Washington Architectural Foundation also awarded her the first Glenn Brown Award in 2001. The award is given to those who improve the life of Washington, D.C. and raise awareness of architecture. By naming the prize after Booth, the organization hoped to both celebrate her work and her contributions to the District.
Fitch said, "We feel strongly that there is not enough discourse about architecture in Washington, D.C., both in the press and just in general, and we want to encourage that and support more people writing about issues related to the built environment that are city-specific."
In April 2016 during the annual Architecture Week, the AIA|DC will present the prize to Capps at the District Architecture Center. There, Capps will also speak at a public lecture.
[Photo courtesy of Eli Meir Kaplan/Kriston Capps]
· All CityLab posts by Kriston Capps [CityLab]
· All coverage on the AIA [Curbed DC]