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May 5, 2010

Michael Sorkin Wins American Academy Architecture Award

Professor Michael Sorkin 

Professor Michael Sorkin

Michael Sorkin, Distinguished Professor of Architecture and Director of the Graduate Urban Design Program at The City College of New York's (CCNY) Bernard and Anne Spitzer School of Architecture, was chosen as a recipient of the American Academy of Arts and Letters 2010 Architecture Awards.   Professor Sorkin was selected for the award, which carries a $7,500 prize, in recognition of his body of work in architecture, research and criticism.

“As a critic, I call them as I see them,” said Professor Sorkin, who has written or edited 16 books to date.  “It is important in an appearance-obsessed era to understand architecture not so much for how it looks but for what its effects are, including its social effects.”

Professor Sorkin’s research focuses on social, environmental, technical and philosophical contexts of architecture and urbanism.  Among his long-advocated ideas that have gained increased acceptance are highly autonomous planning, mixed-use development of waterfront areas and dramatically increased pedestrian space in cities, of which the Times Square Pedestrian Plaza is one example.

Of late, his work has emphasized environmental effects because the scarcity of resources is forcing societies to become more self-sufficient.  His newest book, “Beyond Petropolis,” which will be published later this year, compiles the project of a CCNY urban design studio in the Ecuadorian rain forest and offers ideas for what local communities can do after the oil runs out. “All Over The Map,” a collection of Sorkin’s recent critical writing will also be published this year.

Currently, he is working on an alternative master plan for New York City, through his Terreform nonprofit design group, that has as its goal making the Big Apple completely self sufficient, including growing all food locally.  “I hope this study will have great impact in showing how far you can go (toward self sufficiency),” he said

Terreform’s other major project is a counter proposal to the Columbia University expansion that shows how the level of planned investment could be leveraged beyond the site. Terreform has recently been selected to help represent the United States at the Venice Biennale.

The Michael Sorkin Studio, his commercial practice, has handled design assignments for several cities in China, including current work on a new “green” town for 250,000 people.

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