For over 30 years, Washington Post reporter Sarah Booth Conroy focused on architecture and city history. In celebration of her legacy, the Washington, D.C. chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA|DC) created an annual prize in her name. For the second time, the AIA|DC awarded one member of the media the Sarah Booth Conroy Prize for Journalism and Architectural Criticism. This year, the winner was none other than Amanda Kolson Hurley.
Hurley is known for writing a column on design in D.C. called “Concrete Details” for the Washington City Paper. She has also contributed to Architect Magazine, The Atlantic’s CityLab, The Washington Post, and Curbed.
While born in Ohio, Hurley grew up in Alexandria, Virginia and later went to the U.K. for college and graduate school. After moving back to the D.C. area, she worked as Senior and then Executive Editor of Architect Magazine from 2006 to 2011.
In an interview with Curbed DC, Hurley said, “I kind of came to writing about architecture a little bit sideways.” While she studied literature in undergraduate and graduate school, she came to architectural journalism when she got a job with Preservation, the magazine for the National Trust for Historic Preservation. She was also influenced by her father who taught courses in the history of urban planning and who got her used to architectural day trips to iconic structures like Fallingwater.
“I feel really honored to win a prize that’s named for Sarah Booth Conroy, who was a really legendary figure and a really sharp-eyed journalist behind this demeanor of Southern charm. I don’t think too much escaped her notice,” said Hurley.
The AIA|DC’s jury was composed of architect Shalom Baranes, Scott Frank of ARGO Communications, and Claire Conroy, the daughter of Sarah Booth Conroy. In a statement, the jury said that they found Hurley’s writing to be “witty” and “approachable.”
Specific journalistic pieces that caught the jury’s eye included this Washington City Paper article on the rise of gray-painted homes in the Distirct, this Washingtonian article on DeafSpace, and this Washington City Paper article on how D.C. should veer towards more adventurous styles of architecture and “ban the box.”
On April 4 at the District Architecture Center, the AIA|DC will host a public lecture, led by Hurley, titled The Overlooked Architectural Opportunities of Suburbia. Here, she will argue that the suburbs can and should be a realm of innovation.
To learn more about Hurley, follow her on Twitter here.
The first winner of the Sarah Booth Conroy prize was Kriston Capps.
• Amanda Kolson Hurley [Official Website]