For immediate release:
Washington, D.C. – December 9, 2011 – The Board of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA) named George Baird, Intl. Assoc. AIA, as 2012 recipient of the Topaz Medallion for Excellence in Architectural Education. Long recognized for his association with the University of Toronto’s architecture school, Baird also is one of Canada’s most celebrated architects.
The AIA/ACSA Topaz Medallion honors an individual who has been intensely involved in architecture education for more than a decade and whose teaching has influenced a broad range of students.
Baird is often credited with having helped a new generation of architects find a place at the intersection of architectural form and urban function. He did this by engaging disciplines beyond architecture and fearlessly exploring the political implications of city-making to articulate architects’ social responsibilities. Baird’s deep influence is evident in cities such as Toronto and Vancouver, but also through his prolific writing career and the many students inspired by his example who have gone on to teach and practice.
Baird received a bachelor of architecture degree from the University of Toronto School of Architecture in 1962. He conducted postgraduate research at University College in London, England, where he worked closely with architectural critic Charles Jencks. The pair editing Baird’s first book, Meaning in Architecture.
Baird returned to Toronto in 1967 and began teaching at the University of Toronto, where he remained until 1993. Baird’s practice, Baird Sampson Neuert, was founded in Toronto in 1972, and received the RAIC Architectural Firm Award in 2007. Notable projects include Cloud Gardens Park in Toronto; Thomas L. Wells Public School in Toronto, the first LEED certified public school in Canada; the Old Post Office Plaza in St. Louis, and the Mission 2050 Research Centre, a cutting-edge agricultural research center at the University of Guelph in Ontario.
In 1993 Baird joined the faculty of the Harvard University Graduate School of Design, where he taught design studio and architectural theory. He served as director of master’s degree programs until 2004, when he returned to the University of Toronto to become dean of the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design. Before stepping down in 2009, Baird helped establish the Cities Centre, a multidisciplinary research institute that encourages the study of cities and a wide range of urban policy issues both in Canada and abroad. In 2010, Baird received the Gold Medal from the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC).
Baird will be awarded the medallion at the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA) annual meeting in Boston in March. The AIA will also recognize him at the 2012 AIA National Convention and Design Exposition in Washington, D.C., in May.
About The American Institute of Architects
For over 150 years, members of the American Institute of Architects have worked with each other and their communities to create more valuable, healthy, secure, and sustainable buildings and cityscapes. Members adhere to a code of ethics and professional conduct to ensure the highest standards in professional practice. Embracing their responsibility to serve society, AIA members engage civic and government leaders and the public in helping find needed solutions to pressing issues facing our communities, institutions, nation and world. Visit www.aia.org.
About Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture
The Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture is a nonprofit, membership association founded in 1912 to advance the quality of architectural education. The school membership in ACSA has grown from 10 charter members to over 250 schools in several membership categories. These include full membership for all accredited programs in the United States and government-sanctioned schools in Canada, candidate membership for schools seeking accreditation, and affiliate membership for schools for two-year and international programs. Through these schools, over 5,000 architecture faculty are represented. In addition, over 500 supporting members composed of architecture firms, product associations and individuals add to the breadth of interest and support of ACSA goals. ACSA provides a major forum for ideas on the leading edge of architectural thought. Issues that will affect the architectural profession in the future are being examined today in ACSA member schools. www.acsa-arch.org.