Just a year away from preparing for its 25th year Anniversary Convention, The American Society of Architectural Illustrators thrives as an organization built on promoting the awareness of the artistry of architectural illustrations in the varied techniques that have evolved over time.
Since becoming a charter member of ASAI (then know as ASAP) in 1986, I have enjoyed viewing the art of 24AIP competitions that have been held.
The highest award bestowed by ASAI is the prestigious Hugh Ferris Memorial Prize. The other awards are the Formal Category Award, Informal Category Award, Juror Award (one selection by each of the three jurors) and the popular Member’s Choice Award which is presented to the winner of an online vote submitted to all 500 from around the world. The rest of the AIP is comprised of the winners of the Award of Excellence. The winners of these awards are included in an annual catalogue which is distributed to over 1,000 influential architects and developers. They are also part of the “Show’, a traveling exhibit with venues across the USA and other countries.
Over these years I have had conversations with other architectural illustrators about these selections. As with any competition that is subjective in nature, questions arise about the process behind the awards. It is fair enough and even healthy to have such conversations. Let me be blunt here though, some (not any members that I know of) have even questioned the fairness of the competition suggesting that there might be some sort of clique that serves the interests of those in some sort of an imagined inner circle within the organization.
It may be easy for somebody that is not involved to view the individuals who are more involved as being “insiders”. I myself was somewhat of and “outsider” over many years even though I have enjoyed friendships with two of the founding members.
I am here to let all ASAI members know that all it takes to be an “insider” is to volunteer your time and talent.
One of the reasons I decided to become more involved in ASAI was my desire for adjustments to the criteria on which the awards are made.
This year, as president of ASAI, not only was I able to observe, I was involved in the proceedings.
First of all the president is autonomous in his/her duty to select the jurors. This alone rules out any prior influences or trends.
The jury process was held at the Miami Beach Resort, in Miami Beach Florida, which is the setting for the 2009 ASAI Convention. Present were Tamara Horsch-Prezio, Executive Director of ASAI, Gordon Grice and VP Mark Nelson. Their roles as well as mine were to set up the computers screens and equipment and to present the standard guidelines for the Jury.
The Jurors were:
Terry Riley, Director, Miami Art Museum
Ben Hutchens, ArquitectonicaGEO
Alfredo Sanchez, AIA, Partner Bermello Ajamil & Partners, Inc.
After all of the years of wondering what goes on while the jurors view and discuss hundreds of world-class presentations, I can tell you that I got to be that proverbial “fly on the wall”. What integrity, what a well-organized event. The purity of the process leaves no doubt that the judges are influenced only by each other while they pour over the images, talking amongst themselves. The event truly takes on a life of its own. A chemistry develops between the jurors that is distinctly their own. The jurors invited to preside over AIP24 were all from the Miami area. They come with varying backgrounds in art and architecture. Impressively, the jurors hit their stride from the outset and even though they had never met each other prior to that weekend, they worked as a unit with reverence and respect for every single submission.
We the facilitators each had favorite images. Almost the way one wants to use body language in Charades to convey a thought, so were we frustrated because we were not allowed to influence the jury in any way at all, not even a gesture or timely cough!
They were unanimous in their selection of this years’ Hugh Ferris Memorial winner, Maarten van Dooren.
The other selections fell into place as smoothly as if the jurors were partners in their own firm.
While I and others may still wish to adjust and improve the jury process, I now have much more appreciation and respect for the procedures that are in place.
Any artists that don’t make the “cuts” can take solace in the fact that there very likely could be different outcomes with different combinations of jurors. That is why members are encouraged to re-submit their works in succeeding years. This year’s back of the book image might be next year’s Hugh Ferris Memorial winner.
Frank Bartus, President, Genesis Studios Inc./2009 President, ASAI
About the American Society of Architectural Illustrators (ASAI)
The American Society of Architectural Illustrators (ASAI), previously American Society of Architectural Perspectivists (ASAP) was founded in 1986 by Frank Costantino, Paul Stevenson Oles and Steven Rich in Boston. We hold an annual art competition for members and each year 3 jurors are recruited from the art, architectural and/or rendering community. The jurors select their favorites out of the submissions. What was once a small, local art competition, has grown exponentially into more than 500 entries in recent years from all countries around the world. From this competition, we host a traveling exhibition and publish the Architecture in Perspective catalogue. ASAI’s top award is the Hugh Ferriss Memorial Prize. In addition, we also have a Formal category winner and a Sketch category winner, as well as one image that each juror has selected as his or her personal favorite and approximately 54 additional selected artworks every year. ASAI hosts an opening exhibition venue with each conference and holds a reception at the venue on opening night.
ASAI consists of over 500 members from the USA and most other countries around the world. We are affiliates with American Institute of Architects (DC), Australian Association of Architectural Illustrators, Japan Architectural Renderers Association (JARA, Japan), Korean Architectural Illustrators Association (KAIA, South Korea), The Architectural Society of China (ASC, China), The New York Society of Renderers (NYSR, USA), The Society of Architectural & Industrial Illustrators (SAI, United Kingdom) and Philippine Association of Architectural Renderers (PAAR, Philippines). We also recently gained an affiliation with the Institute of Classical Architecture & Classical America. Our focus and mission is to foster communication among architectural illustrators, to raise the standards of architectural illustration and to acquaint the public with the importance of such drawing as integral to the practice of architecture.