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National Building Museum to Honor 'Civic Innovators'


On May 11, 2010, the National Building Museum will hold its 24th Honor Award ceremony to recognize three organizations—including A&D firm Perkins+Will—that have advanced the quality of our built environment through their unique civic and social innovations.

WASHINGTON – If you could lead an industry, what would be the legacy of your influence? Perhaps it would be to empower generations of architects to practice socially-responsible design around the world.

If you could create a stronger community, where would you start? Maybe in your hometown … where a natural disaster eliminated nearly everything except the culture and tradition that truly united the neighborhood.

If you could build a better world, how would you begin? Perhaps by inspiring students to reinvent the world’s most ubiquitous structure to harness the sun’s power for renewable energy.

On May 11, 2010, the National Building Museum will hold its 24th Honor Award ceremony to recognize three organizations that have advanced the quality of our built environment through their unique civic and social innovations: architecture firm Perkins+Will; New Orleans Habitat Musicians’ Village founders Harry Connick Jr., Branford Marsalis, Ann Marie Wilkins, and Jim Pate; and the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon.

Architecture and interdisciplinary design practice Perkins+Will will be celebrated for its legacy of socially-relevant design that has promoted human wellbeing over the course of the firm’s 75-year history. Perkins+Will, one of the world’s largest design firms with 23 offices globally, has a remarkable portfolio of complex, high-performing institutional projects for civic, education, health care, government, and private-sector clients. Even though an international leader, the firm focuses on educating its professionals to design structures and built environments that harmonize locally—conserving resources and preserving local ecosystems, promoting the health of occupants, and unifying communities through design.

The founders of the New Orleans Habitat Musicians’ Village—Harry Connick Jr., Branford Marsalis, Ann Marie Wilkins, and Jim Pate—will be honored for their creation of a multi-generational village to house musicians in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, thereby preserving and promoting the cultural traditions and practices that define New Orleans. The group’s leadership in restoring and revitalizing the Upper Ninth Ward has been a catalyst for additional community development in the neighborhood. The founders will be celebrated for their role in helping sustain local culture and inclusion of low-income populations that support a vibrant and successful city.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon will be recognized for its commitment to educating the next generation of engineers, architects, and builders through a creative “whole building approach” with renewable energy, energy-efficient, and environmentally responsible systems. Since 2001, the Solar Decathlon has increased public awareness and consumer interest in renewable energy and energy efficiency in the marketplace. The Department of Energy and its Solar Decathlon have helped spur research and development through partnerships with leading educational institutions around the world.

According to Chase Rynd, the executive director and president of the National Building Museum, this year’s decision to honor civic innovators had particular relevance. “Over the past few years, we’ve witnessed many challenges in our society. We wanted to salute those who see these challenges as civic opportunities to innovate and build places that are inclusive, inspiring, and sustaining. This year’s honorees—which include individuals, a large design firm, and a government agency—focus on teaching, mentorship, and multi-generational knowledge as an essential way to improve our buildings and help communities thrive. The National Building Museum believes these models have, and will continue to have, an extraordinary impact in our society.”

The Honor Award ceremony will take place the evening of May 11, 2010 during a gala event which will include the honorees, government officials, leaders from across the design and building industry, and guests from arts and cultural organizations. The Honor Award was instituted by the National Building Museum in 1986 to recognize achievements in our nation’s building heritage and to highlight those devoted to quality in our built world. Previous honorees include Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Cindy and Jay Pritzker, DuPont, Related, The Associated General Contractors of America, and four ‘Visionaries in Sustainability’—the U.S. Green Building Council, United Technologies, the City of Chicago, and Majora Carter. For ticketing and event sponsorship information, contact Jessie Cochran, development events manager, at

The National Building Museum is America’s leading cultural institution dedicated to exploring and celebrating architecture, design, engineering, construction, and planning. Chartered by Congress in 1980 and open to the public since 1985, the Museum has become a vital forum for exchanging ideas and information about the built environment through its exhibitions, education programs, and publications. The Museum is located at 401 F Street NW, Washington, D.C. Museum hours are Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free. Call (202) 272-2448 or visit for more information.