Architect Teddy Cruz: “Can we design human rights?’

February 7, 2018

Teddy Cruz. Photo: The Aspen Institute Central Europe.
The Vilcek Foundation announced on 5 February the winners of its 2018 prize in the arts and humanities, which celebrates the breadth of immigrant contributions to the American arts and sciences. Focusing on the field of architecture, this year’s $100,000 award went to Teddy Cruz, a professor at University of California in San Diego and the director of design at Estudio Teddy Cruz + Fonna Forman, a research-based political and architectural practice.

Marica Vilcek, cofounder and vice chairman of the Vilcek Foundation, said: “With the Vilcek Prizes in Architecture, we are pleased to recognize the many ways in which they have shaped its physical landscape as well—through bold, original designs, and through research that challenges the status quo, both in the building arts and in society.”

Born in Guatemala, Cruz immigrated to California when he was twenty years old…Among his most recent projects completed with his partner Fonna Forman, are cross-border community spaces that host a variety of arts and educational programming on both sides of the US-Mexico border.

Today, we must expose rather than mask the institutional mechanisms driving uneven urban development,” Teddy Cruz and Fonna Forman wrote in the 2016 summer issue of Artforum. “Such a revelation requires a corresponding expansion of our understanding of the scope of architecture itself—can we design human rights, for example? Can social justice become an architectural protocol? In other words, the most important materials with which architects must learn to work are not steel and concrete but critical knowledge of the underlying conditions that produce today’s urban crises.

Established in 2000 by Jan and Marica Vilcek, immigrants from the former Czechoslovakia, the Vilcek Foundation aims to honor the contributions of immigrants to the United States and to foster appreciation of the arts and sciences. The foundation awards annual prizes to prominent immigrant biomedical scientists and artists working in the disciplines of music, film, culinary arts, literature, dance, contemporary music, design, fashion, theatre, and fine arts.

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