Society of Architectural Historians Announces 2020 Award Winners

by SAH News | May 05, 2020

The Society of Architectural Historians is pleased to announce the 2020 recipients of the SAH Publication Awards and the SAH Award for Film and Video. The SAH Publication Awards honor excellence in architectural history, urban history, landscape history and historic preservation scholarship as well as architectural exhibition catalogues. The SAH Award for Film and Video is an annual award that was established in 2013 to recognize the most distinguished work of film or video on the history of the built environment.

The 2020 award recipients are listed below.

Publication Awards

Alice Davis Hitchcock Book Award

The Alice Davis Hitchcock Book Award was established in 1949 to recognize annually the most distinguished work of scholarship in the history of architecture published by a North American scholar. 

Peter H. Christensen
Germany and the Ottoman Railways: Art, Empire and Infrastructure
Yale University Press, 2017

Antoinette Forrester Downing Book Award

Named for Antoinette Forrester Downing, this award recognizes excellence in a published work devoted to historical topics in preservation and honors her scholarship and recognition of the value of local inventories and surveys.

Sally McMurry
Pennsylvania Farming: A History in Landscapes
University of Pittsburgh Press, 2017

Philip Johnson Exhibition Catalogue Award

As architectural history exhibitions are able to address historical and critical questions in special ways, through the presentation of both documentation and artifacts to a diversified audience, so their catalogues have become distinctive vehicles for the expression of scholarship in architectural history. They remain as the substantial and enduring contribution after the life of the exhibition is spent. The Philip Johnson Exhibition Catalogue Award was established in 1990 to recognize and encourage excellence in this form of scholarship and publication.

Jennifer Dunlop Fletcher and Joseph Becker, editors
The Sea Ranch: Architecture, Environment, and Idealism
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and DelMonico Books • Prestel, 2018

Spiro Kostof Book Award

This award was established in 1993 in recognition of Spiro Kostof's extraordinarily productive and inspiring career. In the spirit of Kostof's writings, the award recognizes interdisciplinary studies of urban history that make the greatest contribution to our understanding of the growth and development of cities.

Samia Henni
Architecture of Counterrevolution: The French Army in Northern Algeria
Zurich: ETH/gta Verlage, 2017

Pamela O. Long
Engineering the Eternal City: Infrastructure, Topography, and the Culture of Knowledge in Late Sixteenth-Century Rome
Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2018

Elisabeth Blair MacDougall Book Award

The Elisabeth Blair MacDougall Book Award was established by the SAH Board in 2005 to recognize annually the most distinguished work of scholarship in the history of landscape architecture or garden design. Named for SAH past president and landscape historian Elisabeth MacDougall, the award honors the late historian's role in developing this field of study. 

Wilhelmina F. Jashemski (1910-2007), Kathryn L. Gleason, Kim J. Hartswick, Amina-Aicha Malek, editors
Gardens of the Roman Empire
Cambridge University Press, 2018

Founders’ Award

Established in 1970, the Founders’ Award recognizes an article published by an emerging scholar in the Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians that exhibits excellence of scholarship and presentation.

Michael Abrahamson
“Actual Center of Detroit”: Method, Management, and Decentralization in Albert Kahn's General Motors Building
Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, Vol. 77 No. 1, March 2018

SAH Award for Film and Video

The SAH Award for Film and Video recognizes the most distinguished work of film or video on the history of the built environment. The most important criterion is the work’s contribution to the understanding of the built environment, defined either as deepening that understanding or as bringing that understanding to new audiences.

First Line of China

Hanwen Zhang, Director
The First Line of China
Hanwen Zhang, Producer, 2018

Honorable Mentions:

Joseph Hillel, Director
City Dreamers
Ziad Touma, Producer, 2018

Rima Yamazaki
Learning from Buffalo
2018

The Society usually presents the awards at its Annual International Conference, but this year’s conference in Seattle was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. SAH will begin accepting nominations for the 2021 Publication Awards and SAH Award for Film and Video in June 2020. For more information, visit sah.org/publication-awards and sah.org/film-award.




Founded in 1940, the Society of Architectural Historians is an international nonprofit membership organization that promotes the study, interpretation and conservation of architecture, design, landscapes and urbanism worldwide. SAH serves a network of local, national and international institutions and individuals who, by profession or interest, focus on the built environment and its role in shaping contemporary life. SAH promotes meaningful public engagement with the history of the built environment through advocacy efforts, print and online publications, and local, national and international programs.
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