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History, Design, and Legacy: Architectural Prizes and Medals

Wordcatcher Publishing



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An Academic Investigation of the Royal Institute of British Architects' Royal Gold Medal

In 1846, in consultation with Queen Victoria, Thomas Phillip Robinson and Earl de Grey, first President of the Institute of British Architects (RIBA) in London, wanted to establish a gold medal that would be awarded for outstanding contribution in the field of architecture.

This work is solely focused upon the history, design and legacy of the RIBAs Royal Gold Medal. It will consider both the historical context and the future, along with winners, nominations, formal procedure and modern press campaigns, to place this British architectural medal alongside others awarded on an international scale.

Sitting within a category group of 25 other Royal Prize Medals, awarded by the monarch of the day, the RIBA Medal is unique in that it is the only Royal Prize Medal awarded by a professional body.

Bringing together press statements announcing the annual winner(s), recipient speeches, obituary notices, letters of correspondence, as well as minute books from RIBA Council and jury meetings; this work also includes other documents housed in the RIBA archive. Along with contemporary published and unpublished material, press releases, and face-to-face conversations with winners and supporters - all of which have given the author ability to construct this work, building on existing knowledge and considering new avenues of discussion within relevant issues. At the time of writing, as many living medallists as possible were interviewed to reveal their views about the medal and how they perceived its value.

Also contained within this work is a piece of statistical analysis. This concentrates on aspects common to all winners, yet had never been considered as part of the criteria for winning the medal: gender, nationality, family background, age, health, profession and posthumous winners. The political background of the winners is also considered; looking at such agendas as refusals, partnerships, war and royal presentations.

The conclusion of this work will outline what has been achieved through collation of this data, and will offer a blueprint for a future medallist drawing from statistical analysis. It will also suggest qualities and achievements a future medallist needs to possess.

History, Design, and Legacy was successfully submitted as a Doctoral thesis to the School of Architecture, University of Liverpool by Liz Walder MA FRSA MCIPR in September 2012.

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