Winners of the newly launched book and lecture award in honor of J.B. Jackson, inaugurated at The University of New Mexico School of Architecture + Planning (SA+P) last year, were just announced. The jury enthusiastically commended, in alphabetical order:

  • David, Charles L. Building Character: The Racial Politics of Modern Architectural Style. Culture, Politics, and the Built Environment. University of Pittsburgh Press, 2019
  • Escobar, Arturo. Designs for the Pluriverse: Radical Independence, Autonomy, and the Making of Worlds. New Ecologies for the Twenty-First Century. Duke University Press, 2018
  • Harjo, Laura. Spiral to the Stars: Mvskoke Tools of Futurity. University of Arizona Press, 2019
  • Seavitt Nordenson, Catherine. Depositions: Roberto Burle Marx and Public Landscape Under Dictatorship. University of Texas Press, 2018

The jury wanted to emphasize books that share fresh voices and integrated concepts across disciplines. Jury members felt the winning volumes embody the spirit of J.B. Jackson and contribute to knowledge and perspectives across the design disciplines, including architecture, landscape architecture, planning and urban design. They see these books as a collection that, when read together, can help students, faculty, and practitioners raise the bar of design discourse and open new discussions on ways of viewing and knowing.

“We see these four volumes signaling an openness within design discourse,” said SA+P Assistant Professor and head juror Kathleen Kambic. “Each book deals with broad themes of race, environment, and climate through contestation and integration of existing ideas.”

This academic year, the authors will be paired into conversations at UNM SA+P, where they will present their work briefly, and then have the opportunity to discuss each other’s work and take audience questions.

The jurors were Sunil Bald, Craig Barton, Greg Castillo, Felipe Correa, Cathy Lang Ho, Nina-Marie Lister, Victor Rubin, Thaïsa Way and Sibel Zandi-Sayek.

“We congratulate the inaugural jury for helping us launch this award program, and we congratulate the winners for their inspiring contributions,” said Kambic, thanking the jurors.

The following jury comments about the books encapsulate the award programs thematic connection to J.B. Jackson’s historic contributions.

Building Character, by Charles L. Davis, “explores cultural biases in design by reinvestigating prominent voices in architecture and planning. This retelling of a familiar story in new ways is good for teaching as it brings up valuable and difficult questions—what assumptions do we have as we read this? What is American nationalism and naturalism? What is it that we want to bring attention to?”

Designs for the Pluriverse, by Arturo Escobar, “takes the most forward and radical stance in decentering the West while being general about design, instead of dealing with design thinking. It is a manifesto that will be inspiring for students who wish to avoid the pitfalls of ‘expert’ knowledge and find deeper and more meaningful forms of engagement. Although this book is part of a long trajectory of research, this particular volume interrogates modernity in a valuable way. It reveals the larger structures within which designers operate while revisiting complex systems adaptation theory.”

Spiral to the Stars, by Laura Harjo, “is a remarkable and original volume. It validates indigeneity and contextualizes western thinking within it by bringing additional voices to the forefront. The ontological approaches Harjo proposes are valuable blueprints for community engagement. Harjo shares a concept of radical sovereignty that reveals the value of marginalized communities to those who may not have knowledge of them. It is a powerful and expansive view of the potentials of design. This book will be captivating for students, reinforcing the importance of new types of scholarship. This volume starts with community and grounds itself in the personal experience and accessible writing of Harjo.”

Depositions, by Catherine Seavitt-Nordenson “is a creative, rich and multi-disciplinary book that integrates original documents, critical discussion and close observation of Brazilian landscape architect, Roberto Burle Marx’s design work. This volume is seamless and well written, accessible and explorable. It reveals the contemporary relevance of landscape architecture and public space through a historical study. It discusses profound societal and cultural change, similar to the contemporary issues we face, like the pandemic and our political situation. Implications of this volume are present for moral and ethical contributions to design disciplines. The way the author contextualizes the politics and ethics as the context for Burle Marx’s work is a clever way to deal with a messy situation; the author is not an apologist for the regime. The volume is decentered from the West, and it contextualizes design as heritage.”

Nominations for the 2022 On the Brinck Book and Lecture Award may now be submitted here:

SA+P’s Dean Robert Alexander González, who founded the program as a Dean’s Initiative during his first year at UNM, is looking forward to a new body of work for next year’s program.

“This award hopes to bring light to contemporary and emerging values in design presented in books that offer new perspectives that resonate with the seminal writings of J.B. Jackson, who so generously supported the SA+P with an endowment,” he explained. “The three criteria we have committed to come directly from Jackson’s enlightened approach to scholarship, emphasizing new and often overlooked areas of study, accessibility to the reader, and the integration of allied disciplines.”

The criteria for book nominations are:

  1. The book should break new ground, be a trailblazer, a new study or area that takes the reader past former work;
  2. The book should contribute to the creative arts in an integrative way, across the three disciplines of architecture, landscape architecture and urban planning and design; and
  3. The book should be approachable to students with writing that is relevant, and offers contemporary understanding (to the issues of our times, with voice as much as subject).