Lawrence (Larry) Speck, distinguished professor and former dean of the School of Architecture at The University of Texas at Austin, has been awarded the Topaz Medallion for Excellence in Architecture Education, the highest honor awarded to an architectural educator, from the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA).
The medal honors an individual who has made outstanding contributions to architectural education for a decade or more.
Speck joined the faculty of the School of Architecture in 1975 after teaching at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for three years. He was the founding director of the Center for American Architecture and Design from 1982-1990, an associate dean of the school from 1990-1992 and dean of the school from 1992-2001. In 1975, he founded Lawrence W. Speck and Associates, and since 1999 he has been the principal of the award-winning architectural firm, Page Southerland Page.
His design work has appeared in more than 90 publications in the United States, England, Brazil, Italy, Japan and Germany, and he has been featured in the The New York Times, Forbes, The Atlantis, Architectural Record, Architecture and Architectural Digest. He has received more than 50 national, state and local design awards over the last two decades.
Although Speck is nationally recognized for his commitment to urbanism and regionalism (incorporating local culture and climate into design), he is perhaps best known for his commitment to educating students and mentoring hundreds of current and former students. His classes attract more students (architecture majors and non-majors) than any professor at the university, making him one of the most influential teachers on campus.
“I have met a great many academicians and professionals around the word in my work, including those of the highest caliber, and Larry Speck is among the most prominent I have encountered,” said Craig Dykers, founder of the internationally renowned design firm, Snohetta. “This is due not only to his skills and professional abilities but also his qualities as a mentor and his desire to treat each person he meets and each project he undertakes with sensitivity and character.”
During his tenure as dean of the School of Architecture, the school grew in size and stature. The school, once recognized only at a regional level, began to achieve national prominence.
“By the time Larry ended his deanship, (the school) regularly ranked among the nation’s top institutions, with an outstanding faculty, some of the best facilities in the country, an endowment over $20 million, and an eager and intelligent student body,” said Reed Kroloff, former editor-in-chief of Architecture magazine, former dean of architecture at Tulane University and now director of the Cranbook Academy of Art.
Speck was awarded the 2009-2010 University of Texas System Regents Outstanding Teaching Award, the 2007 Friar Centennial Teaching Fellowship, the 2005 Chancellor’s Council Teaching Award (the highest award for undergraduate teaching given by The University of Texas System), the 2005 Edward J. Romieniec Award given by the Texas Society of Architects to an outstanding architectural educator and the 2004 Outstanding Teaching Award in the School of Architecture.
The Topaz Medallion will be presented at the 2011 AIA National Convention and Design Expo in New Orleans and at the ACSA annual meeting in Quebec.