Junior wins international essay competition

Prestigious Berkeley Prize for architecture writing carries $3,000 award

Philip Tidwell, a junior in the School of Architecture at Washington University in St. Louis, took first place in the Fifth Annual Berkeley Undergraduate Prize for Architectural Design Excellence.

The prestigious essay competition, open to undergraduate architecture majors from accredited schools from around the world, carries a $3,000 award.

Philip Tidwell
Philip Tidwell

Tidwell’s essay, Place, Memory, and the Problem of the Architectural Image, was selected from a field of 130 entries by students representing 31 countries and 81 undergraduate architecture programs on six continents. His essay critiques contemporary architecture’s tendency to evoke meaning through primarily visual means and references, rather than through more experiential strategies that utilize “all human modes of perception.”

“The experiences of many new buildings, plazas, parks, and campuses have become so banal that a popular comparison has been drawn between these spaces and printed postcards,” Tidwell wrote. “The relationship between these two ideas makes painfully apparent the fact that our built environment is quickly becoming a stage set rather than a thoughtfully constructed environment for living.”

Jurors for the competition included Brit Andresen, professor of architecture at the University of Queensland, Australia; Francesco Bandarin, director of UNESCO World Heritage, Paris, and professor at the School of Planning in Venice; Jo Noero, director of the School of Architecture and Planning at the University of Cape Town, South Africa; and Brigitte Shim, associate professor of architecture, landscape and design at the University of Toronto.

The Berkeley Prize competition was established in 1998 by the Department of Architecture at the University of California, Berkeley, to promote architecture as a social art through writing and criticism. The 2003 competition was named a special event of “World Heritage in the Digital Age,” an internet-linked “virtual congress” of conferences and events commemorating the 30th anniversary of the UNESCO World Heritage Convention. Last year, the competition was honored with an American Institute of Architects Education Award.

For more information about the Berkeley Prize, visit http://www.berkeleyprize.org/2003/essays.cfm