It has been revealed that architect, scholar, curator, activist and conservationist Phyllis Lambert is to receive the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at the 14th International Architecture Exhibition in Venice this June. Lambert will be presented with the award on 7 June, following in the footsteps of previous winners Alvaro Siza, James S. Ackerman and Director of this year’s la Biennale di Venezia, Rem Koolhaas.
Rem Koolhaas said of Lambert’s selection by the Board of la Biennale di Venezia: “Not as an architect, but as a client and a custodian, Phyllis Lambert has made a huge contribution to architecture. Without her participation, one of the few realisations in the 20th century of perfection on earth - the Seagram Building in New York - would not have happened.
“Her creation of the Canadian Centre for Architecture in Montreal combines rare vision with rare generosity to preserve crucial episodes of architecture’s heritage and to study them under ideal conditions. Architects make architecture; Phyllis Lambert made architects.” Lambert initiated the Canadian Centre for Architecture to act as a study centre and museum for architecture in order to raise public awareness of building design and promote scholarly research in the field.
Lambert is perhaps best known for her involvement in discussing issues of urban conservation and bolstering the role of architecture in the public realm. This work as a conservationist and architectural critic has earned her recognition from the Royal Society of Canada, the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada, the Royal Institute of British Architects and the American Institute of Architects.
Lambert credits the beginning of her professional journey to her work with Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Philip Johnson, explaining: “My life began with my passionate involvement with…the creation of a building of great architectural quality in New York, that is, the Seagram Building. The philosophy a building expresses seeps into a society and helps mould it.”