The Gish Prize Trust announced on Monday that artist and designer Walter Hood, Professor of Landscape Architecture & Environmental Planning and Urban Design at UC Berkeley’s College of Environmental Design, has been selected to receive the 26th annual Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize. The prestigious award is in recognition of Hood’s ongoing achievements in merging landscape, urbanism, and public art for the benefit of communities across America. The Gish prize is considered one of the most prestigious honors for artists in the United States and awards one of the largest monetary gift amounts each year. The announcement comes less than two weeks after Hood received the 2019 MacArthur Genius grant.
When speaking to the Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize Trust, Hood said, “When I look at the artists who have received the Gish Prize, it’s clear to me that this is not your typical award. It’s very much about people having a voice. So I am astonished, and deeply moved, that the Gish Prize jury has heard my voice. The work the Studio has done for the past twenty years is often soft-spoken and can go unnoticed. I thank the Gish Prize for helping to bring it into the public conversation.”
The prize is awarded each year to a highly accomplished artist who has pushed the boundaries of an art form, contributed to social change and paved the way for the next generation. Past recipients of the award include visionaries such as Isabel Allende, Bob Dylan, Frank Gehry, and Spike Lee. Hood was chosen for the award by a selection committee from among more than 70 finalists. Established in 1994 through the will of Lillian Gish, the Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize is given annually to an individual who has “made an outstanding contribution to the beauty of the world and to mankind’s enjoyment and understanding of life.”
Acting Dean and professor of Architecture and Urban Design Renee Chow said, “On behalf of the faculty, students, and staff at the College of Environmental Design, we offer congratulations to Professor Hood for receiving this well-deserved and prestigious award from the Gish Prize Trust. Hood’s visionary teaching for the last 27 years at UC Berkeley is a testament to his legendary practice that uses oral histories as well as physical, environmental and social patterns to uncover familiar and untold stories in the Bay Area and around the world.”
The Gish Prize will be presented to Hood in a private award ceremony on the evening of Wednesday, November 20, at Lenfest Center for the Arts at Columbia University. The ceremony, attended by leaders of the arts community, will include remarks from Carol Becker, Dean of Faculty, School of the Arts and Professor of the Arts, Columbia University; Adam Clark, Managing Director and Global Head of Trust & Estates, J.P. Morgan Private Bank, which administers the award as trustee of the Gish Prize Trust; Mabel Wilson, Professor of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, Columbia University; Oskar Eustis, Artistic Director, The Public Theater; and Mary Miss, Gish Prize Selection Committee member and Founder of City as Living Laboratory. Blu Bailey will perform a spoken word piece about Hood’s work and Hood’s nephew J-Hood will perform a song.