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Chad Oppenheim, founder of Oppenheim Architecture, wins the 2023 American Prize for Architecture


Desert Rock Main Rock Crevice. Image credit Luxigon

Chad Oppenheim

The Chicago Athenaeum: Museum of Architecture and Design, together with The European Centre for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies, has announced that Miami-based architect and urban planner Chad Oppenheim has been selected as the 2023 Laureate of The American Prize for Architecture, the prestigious award that is regarded internationally as the highest honor for architecture in the United States.

Oppenheim’s built works, spanning over two decades, are expansive in typology and geography, including works ranging from cultural and hospitality buildings to residences and urban masterplanning throughout Asia, Australia, Europe and North and South America.

Desert Rock Main Rock Crevice. Image credit Luxigon

Subtle, powerful, elegant, and deeply romantic, he is a prolific American architect who is radical in his restraint, demonstrating his reverence for history and culture, as well as time and space, while honoring the preexisting built and natural environments, as he reimagines a more beautiful and poetic world with modern, meaningful buildings that relate to their context and reinvigorates the landscape and places in which his designs exits.

His monumental, immutable architecture enhances the lives of its occupants, realizes a site’s full potential, and protects and celebrates the natural environment. From the serene Jordanian desert to the lush Bahamas, he shapes buildings and places to achieve the optimal balance between creativity and pragmatism, function and experience, construction and aesthetics . . . Oppenheim’s buildings engage and harness their surrounding land and seascapes and showcase the designer’s dedication to sustainable practices and materials.

Christian Narkiewicz-Laine, architecture critic and museum president/CEO of The Chicago Athenaeum

Star Metals Offices. Image credit Campfire Social

The joint American Prize for Architecture honors American architects, as well as other global architects practicing on a multiple of continents, whose body of architectural work, over time, exemplifies superior design and humanist ideals. It pays tribute to the spirit of the founder of modernism, Louis Sullivan, and the subsequent generations of Chicago practitioners such as Frank Lloyd Wright, Daniel H. Burnham, and Holabird & Root.

Previous Laureates include: Sir Norman Foster, Michael Graves, the General Services Administration (GSA), Richard Meier, Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture, Form4Architecture, Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates PC., Bernardo Fort-Brescia and Laurinda Spear of the Miami-based firm of Arquitectonica, Eric Owen Moss, and Victor F. “Trey” Trahan of Trahan Architects APAC. Last year, the Prize was given to SHoP Architects.

Ayla Golf Academy & Clubhouse. Image courtesy of Oppenheim Architecture

Chad Oppenheim founded Oppenheim Architecture in 1999 to design a new kind of sensory, site-specific architecture. Working across scale, typology, and geography, every Oppenheim project is a sensitive contextual response guided by the philosophy that design follows life and form follows feeling. Since the founding of his firm, Oppenheim has won numerous awards and gained an enormous international presence.

Oppenheim has lectured widely and taught at various architecture schools, including Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design and, most recently, Cornell University’s College of Architecture, Art, and Planning. He has published two books – Spirit of Place (2019), a monograph about the practice featuring seven award-winning projects, and Lair: Radical Homes and Hideouts of Movie Villains (2019), an academic investigation into the cultural associations of modernist design with villainy in cinema.

Muttenz Water Treatment Plant. Credit: Borje Muller

Chad Oppenheim’s recent work and over 160 winning projects from the 2023 American Architecture Awards are published in Global Design + Urbanism XXIII (“New American Architecture 2023”) edited by Christian Narkiewicz-Laine for Metropolitan Arts Press Ltd.