Press Room

Professor of Architecture David Leatherbarrow Awarded 2020 AIA/ACSA Topaz Medallion for Excellence in Architectural Education

PHILADELPHIA— David Leatherbarrow, professor of architecture at the University of Pennsylvania Stuart Weitzman School of Design, has been named as the 2020 recipient of the AIA/ACSA Topaz Medallion for Excellence in Architectural Education. The announcement was made this morning by the Board of Directors and the Strategic Council of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) along with the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA).

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.

For nearly four decades, Leatherbarrow has trained reflective practitioners through his graduate and undergraduate courses exploring the interdependence of design and theory. One of the world’s leading experts in the history and theory of architecture, he has supervised 30 dissertations and advised an additional 30 that included prominent leaders from around the world. As many of his students will attest, his energy and optimism for the built environment are infectious, and his positive vision is ceaselessly inspiring.

At Penn, where he has taught since 1984, Leatherbarrow created a foundational culture that persists to this day. For 20 years, he led the Weitzman School’s first-year studio, which he coupled with a course focused on his signature integration of design and theory. In addition, he has taught the required first-semester course in the school’s PhD program, and his instruction has established fluency in architecture’s theories and history for countless scholars and teachers. His academic leadership at the Weitzman School includes service as chair of the Department of Architecture and two decades as chair of the PhD in Architecture program.

Leatherbarrow is among several Penn faculty and alumni to receive the Topaz Medallion. Previous recipients include: G. Holmes Perkins (1979), a professor of architecture who served as dean from 1951-1971; alumnus (BArch’37) Joseph Esherick (1982); Denise Scott Brown (1996), an alumna (MCP’60, MArch’65) who was on the faculty from 1960-1965; Professor Emeritus Lee Copeland (2001), who served as dean from 1979-1991; and Adele Naude Santos (2009), an alumna (MArch/MCP’68) who was on the faculty from 1981-1990.

Visit AIA’s website to learn more about Leatherbarrow’s selection as the AIA 2020 Topaz Medallion recipient.