Postmodern gem in London wins 2019 AIA 25-Year Award

Exterior view from Trafalgar Square during a protest.

Venturi, Scott Brown and Associates’ Sainsbury Wing, a 1991
addition to London’s National Gallery, took home this year’s
prize

Last year, the American Institute of Architects decided for the
first time since 1971 to withhold its 25-Year Award, a (supposedly)
annual honor given to a building that has proven its significance
after approximately 25 years of existence.

We were, in a word, disappointed. By our estimation, there were
plenty of buildings built between 1983 and 1993 that were
worthy of the accolade
, including a handful of postmodern
gems.

People walking up stairs
Photo by Phil Starlin courtesy AIA Interior view of gallery space.

Now, postmodernism is getting its due. This year, the AIA

granted
the 25-Year Award to Venturi, Scott Brown and
Associates’ Sainsbury Wing, the columned addition to London’s
National Gallery.

The 120,000-square-foot wing elicited
mixed reactions
when it was completed in 1991. Built from
limestone, glass, and metal, the building was stately yet playful,
traditional yet modern. Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown
designed the wing to live alongside William Wilkins’ original
1893 building, as a modern homage to the past. They didn’t design
it to match.

Woman standing next to limestone columns
Photo by Matt Wargo courtesy AIA Interior view of atrium and
gallery space.

The Sainsbury Wing has remained largely untouched since its
completion and was granted Grade I status, making it one of the
U.K.’s most architecturally significant buildings.

Indeed, postmodernism
isn’t for everyone
, but it still deserves to be considered,
critiqued, and, yes, celebrated.

Source: FS – All – Architecture 10
Postmodern gem in London wins 2019 AIA 25-Year Award