2023 On the Brinck Book Award + Lecture Winners Announced

January 5, 2024

plant-life-book-cover The Architecture of Disability Book Cover historic-real-estate-book-cover a-house-for-the-struggle-book-cover

The University of New Mexico School of Architecture + Planning (UNM SA+P) is pleased to announce the winners of the 2023 On The Brinck Book Award and Lecture series, created in honor of John Brinckerhoff Jackson. The jury, comprised of Sunil Bald, Felipe Correa, Margaret Crawford, Charles L. Davis, Catherine Page Harris, Cathy Lang Ho, Thaïsa Way, and Sibel Zandi-Sayek, honors the following publications: 

Elkin, Rosetta S. Plant Life: The Entangled Politics of Afforestation. University of Minnesota Press, 2022. 

Gissen, David. The Architecture of Disability: Buildings, Cities, and Landscapes beyond Access. University of Minnesota Press, 2022. 

Martinko, Whitney. Historic Real Estate: Market Morality and the Politics of Preservation in the Early United States. University of Pennsylvania Press, 2020. 

West, E. James. A House for the Struggle: The Black Press and the Built Environment in Chicago. University of Illinois Press, 2022. 

UNM SA+P Dean Robert Alexander González founded the program as a Dean’s Initiative in 2020. He notes, “This award is supported by a generous endowment established by J.B. Jackson toward the end of his life. In his spirit, it affirms our commitment to promoting enlightened approaches to scholarship that emphasize new and overlooked areas of study, accessibility to the reader, and the integration of the allied disciplines we study at the School of Architecture + Planning.” 

The awarded volumes embody the legacy of J.B. Jackson, a prolific writer and influential figure in the development of the field of cultural landscape studies, merging analysis of natural, built, and human landscapes. The selected works contribute new knowledge and perspectives spanning the design disciplines of architecture, landscape architecture, planning, and urban design. Together they serve as a collection that can help students, faculty, and practitioners expand design discourse and open new discussions on ways of viewing and knowing. 

Coordinating juror and UNM SA+P Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture Catherine Page Harris: “These new works enhance conversations around capital, identity, Black presence, and climate change in design. This award honors deft and timely scholarship.” 

The School of Architecture + Planning will host the authors for a symposium later this spring to present their work and discuss the awarded volumes in the context of J.B. Jackson’s legacy and contemporary issues within architecture and design. We will update our website soon with dates of the event at saap.unm.edu/news-events/events.html 

The following jury comments encapsulate the award program’s thematic connection to J.B. Jackson’s historic contributions: 

Plant Life: The Entangled Politics of Afforestation by Rosetta S. Elkin, “Elkin defies the current moment’s obsession with tree planting to challenge what we know about what we are planting. As a landscape architect, Elkin argues that we need to carefully consider how we steward trees and the places where they thrive and in turn, better understand the places where they don’t. Elkin’s critique of tree planting as a cause célèbre to assuage climate change impacts is based in historical and geographically diverse examples. The work reads with a specialist’s eye for horticulture and a storyteller’s narrative arc.” 

The Architecture of Disability: Buildings, Cities, and Landscapes beyond Access by David Gissen, “In a multi-referential deconstruction of ableist architectural norms, Gissen’s readings of landscapes, buildings, and histories bring non-linear conceptions of ability into focus. Investigations of ancient historic ramps, landscape spaces of multiple abilities, and conceptualizations of built form challenge contemporary practice and theory to shift away from accommodation to resisting definitions of lack. The book references a rich, complex set of texts and theories in an approachable, readable prose.” 

Historic Real Estate: Market Morality and the Politics of Preservation in the Early United States by Whitney Martinko, “Martinko’s evocative study drafts a new origin story for the discipline of historic preservation. Instead of casting ‘preservation’ and ‘new construction’ as polarities of urban development, Historic Real Estate reveals their concomitant function in investing the capitalist market with the perceived morality to preserve the patrimony of the state even as it endorses crude patterns of economic development. This book opens the field of historic preservation to future studies in economics, American studies and architectural history that will be productive for decades.” 

A House for the Struggle: The Black Press and the Built Environment in Chicago by E. James West, “A House for the Struggle documents the spatial geographies that were established by the reportage of Chicago’s Black newspaper row. Insisting upon the primacy of space as a concrete medium of change, West’s critique of the Johnson Publishing Building - a beautiful Miesian block that ultimately came to represent the conservatism and decadence of Black capitalism - reveals the relative impotence of formalist approaches to design that are too distanced from the practical realities of Black social uplift. This book provides a useful model for documenting and analyzing the overlooked contributions of Black actors on the built environment.”