“The making of architecture is best taught by example,” said Robert A. M. Stern today, as he accepted the 2017 AIA Topaz Medallion at the national conference in Orlando. “Architecture education should also prepare students to positively affect the lives of others.”
Indeed, all of this morning’s keynote speakers demonstrated the ways in which architects and designers can become leaders and agents for positive change in the world through their work.
The first speaker, Diébédo Francis Kéré, highlighted the importance of using local materials and labor, citing several of his school projects throughout his home country of Burkina Faso. “I grew up in the classroom where you could put your hand up and touch corrugated iron, which is not a good solution where temperatures can reach 60 degrees Celsius [140 degrees Fahrenheit],” he said, “Here we have a new ceiling made of clay bricks that I taught people to make out of the material we have in the village.” Through his work and his words, Kéré also emphasized the value of education. “Access to knowledge remains something unreachable for many kids in Africa,” he said. “That is what is splitting us.”