SAH Publication Awards

Every year, the Society of Architectural Historians presents awards that recognize the most distinguished publications in architectural history, urban history, landscape history, preservation, and architectural exhibition catalogues. SAH also presents the Founders' Award for an outstanding JSAH article written by an emerging scholar in the previous two years. 

Nominations for the next award cycle will open in June 2022. 

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.
List of Past Recipients

2021 Recipient:

Nancy Steinhardt 
Chinese Architecture: A History
Princeton University Press, 2019

The Society of Architectural Historians confers its most distinguished recognition, the Alice Davis Hitchcock Award, for the best book published in the past calendar year by a North American scholar to Chinese Architecture by Nancy Steinhardt. With its exceptional chronological and geographical range, the book documents architecture and urbanism in the current People’s Republic of China from pre-history to the twentieth century. Steinhardt offers a deeply-researched exploration of Chinese architecture and cities, supplying a key resource for future teaching and scholarship on Chinese architecture. This outstanding contribution gives scholars in the Anglophone world a benchmark introduction to the built environment of a country and a civilization that is still unfamiliar to many western readers and researchers. While organized chronologically, the volume also includes key chapters on Chinese urbanism, on the generation of building standards, on cultural exchange and cross influence between China and its neighbors, and between China, Europe, and the United States. The volume further contributes substantively to a more representative history of the built environment. Guided by conceptual issues raised by Steinhardt in her exceptionally generous and yet highly focused book, students and scholars will now have a key source from which to pursue future investigations. Chinese Architecture balances the history of the built environment by offering an alternative model to that provided by Europe and North America: a history of building in which change and continuity persist in a dialogical relationship across vast stretches of time and space.

Award Committee:
Claire Zimmerman, University of Michigan, Chair
Martha Pollak, University of Illinois-Chicago
Conrad Thake, University of Malta


Antoinette Forrester Downing Book Award

For some time, preservationists have been involved in investigating and evaluating the physical fabric of this country and other nations. In order to encourage further research and publication of research in this field, the Society of Architectural Historians has established an annual award for excellence in a published work devoted to historical topics in preservation. Named for Antoinette Forrester Downing, the award honors her scholarship and recognition of the value of local inventories and surveys.
List of Past Recipients

2021 Recipients:

Diana S. Waite, Photographs by Gary David Gold
The Architecture of Downtown Troy: An Illustrated History
SUNY Press, 2019

Diana S. Waite’s The Architecture of Downtown Troy: An Illustrated History, an architectural history of Troy, New York, represents the spirit of Downing’s own work through its close reading of a specific urban landscape, based on systematic survey and research and placed within a larger architectural context. Amply illustrated with historic photographs, maps, and other items culled from the archives, the book is an excellent example of place-based preservation scholarship. Diana Waite’s book honors the tradition and spirit of Antoinette Forrester Downing’s work and reflects a shining example in the field of historic preservation. 

Jeff Cody and Francesco Siravo
Historic Cities: Issues in Urban Conservation
Getty Conservation Institute, 2019

Jeff Cody and Francesco Siravo’s Historic Cities: Issues in Urban Conservation, a collection of essays on the conservation of urban places from around the world, looks widely at developments in architecture, urbanism, and historic preservation, to highlight a diverse range of approaches applied on a global stage. Although the essays are global in scope, their potential for transforming practices of preservation in the U.S. is in keeping with Downing’s own transformative impact. Jeff Cody and Francesco Siravo’s book honors the tradition and spirit of Antoinette Forrester Downing’s work and reflects a shining example in the field of historic preservation.

Award Committee:
Anna Andrzejewski, Chair
Bryan Clark Green
Marjorie Pearson


SAH 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. This award recognizes and encourages excellence in this form of scholarship and publication.
List of Past Recipients


2021 Recipients:

Martino Stierli and Vladimir Kulić
Toward A Concrete Utopia: Architecture in Yugoslavia, 1948–1980
The Museum of Modern Art, 2018

The key role architecture played not only in Tito’s Yugoslavia, but also in the politics of the “Third Way” of unaligned nations, is skillfully synthesized in this handsomely produced catalogue. Exhibition and book alike introduced English-speaking audiences to a key, but overlooked, dimension of the stakes of design in the post-war conflicted search for a new world order. The archival richness of a major research initiative is on full display in finely reproduced drawings, blueprints, and historic photographs, complemented by a portfolio of newly commissioned color photography of these now tarnished utopian dreams, the latter adding poignancy to the volume’s scholarly insights.

A showcase for the work of younger and emerging scholars both in the successor states to the former Yugoslavia and in the United States, the project documents not only the buildings—often heroic—but equally the organization of the profession, the role of female architects, and the politics of design for everyday life, as well as Yugoslavia’s engagement with post-colonial Nigeria. The catalogue will stand for years to come as a portal for further research.  


Chris Grimley, Michael Kubo, and Rami el Samahy
Imagining the Modern: Architecture and Urbanism of the Pittsburgh Renaissance
The Monacelli Press, 2019

Urban renewal is enjoying a renaissance in scholarship, but has yet to win over a larger public for critical reconsideration. The brilliance of this in-depth research study of one American city’s dramatic urban renewal in the 1950s and 1960s lies not only in the richness of its archival haul—photographs, plans, newspaper clippings—but in the student and community engagement documented in this volume published after the run of the show. Transcripts of salons included here leave a new archival layer to the rich period materials assembled by the curators. A model study of a key subject in U.S. post-war urbanism, Imagining the Modern is as innovative for its archival approach and cartography as it is for suggesting ways in which an exhibition might combine scholarly research into the complex landscape of agents who effected a radical change of a city’s urban fabric historically with contemporary community engagement. The imaginative book provides materials for an on-going assessment of the legacy of a conflicted chapter in American urbanism.

Award Committee:
Barry Bergdoll, Chair
Jennifer Komar Olivarez
Benjamin Flowers


Spiro Kostof Book Award

This award was established in 1993 at the Society's Annual Meeting in Albuquerque, in recognition of Spiro Kostof's extraordinarily productive and inspiring career that was ended by his premature death in December 1991. In the spirit of Kostof's writings, the award will be given to interdisciplinary studies of urban history that make the greatest contribution to our understanding of the growth and development of cities.
List of Past Recipients

2021 Recipient:

Zachary J. Violette
The Decorated Tenement: How Immigrant Builders and Architects Transformed the Slum in the Gilded Age
University of Minnesota Press, 2019

The Decorated Tenement: How Immigrant Builders and Architects Transformed the Slum in the Gilded Age, is an important and engaging addition to the growing literature on American urban housing. Focusing on late nineteenth-century tenement in New York and Boston, it greatly expands our knowledge by introducing immigrant and working class actors, whose struggle for respectability it highlights. These architects, builders, and tenants participated in the establishment of comfortable, affordable lodgings at a time when mass housing was entirely in the hands of the private market. Long disdained for their gaudy ornamentation, these Gilded Age apartment buildings communicated, Zachary J. Violette shows us, economic achievement in ways that those who designed, built, owned, and inhabited them far preferred to the prim understatement (and more austere interiors) favored by upper-middle-class reformers. By refusing to take the reformers at their word, the arguments this beautifully presented and illustrated book makes, amply supported by contemporary photographs and advertisements, floor plans, and color plates, should prompt the re-examination of other narratives of architectural benevolence as well as the denigration of popular forms of building that often accompanies them, well beyond the historical and geographical context of industrializing North American cities.

Award Committee:
Kathleen James-Chakraborty, Chair
Dale Gyure
Ipek Türeli


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.
List of Past Recipients

2021 Recipient:

C.J. Alvarez
Border Land, Border Water: A History of Construction on the US-Mexico Divide
University of Texas Press, 2019

Border Land, Border Water is an outstanding model of landscape history that is deeply grounded in landscape and place while also being critically interdisciplinary. It is a historical narrative focused on a rarely examined geography and environment—the border of the U.S. and Mexico—and a provocative exploration of social and political issues of immigration and movement that is both timely and of sustained importance. Alverez’s “longue durée” approach revealed how the interactions of diverse people to “tame” the border and how they contributed to the changing U.S.-Mexico border that extended beyond wars and immigration raids to include how the landscape changed over time. This work, from a young scholar whose scholarship shows great promise for the future, is a paradigm-shifting work that will appeal to scholars, students, community activists, and others seeking to learn more about the history of construction, removal, and displacement in the southwest. Furthermore, it is well-written and accessible to a wide audience—not only landscape historians, cultural geographers, scholars of the American West, and students, but also curious readers interested in the background of current discussions regarding how landscape relates to and informs immigration, borders, and land/resource management. We offer it as an exemplar of landscape history and one that is likely to be a critical text in both future teaching and scholarship.

Award Committee:
Thaïsa Way, Chair
Lake Douglas
Hilary Green


Founders' JSAH Article Award

The Founders' Award is given annually for an article published by an emerging scholar in the preceding two years in the Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians that exhibits excellence of scholarship and presentation. For the purposes of this award, an "emerging scholar" is defined as someone under the age of 40 or within five years of the completion of a terminal degree at the time of submission of the article. Authors will be asked by the JSAH editor whether they are eligible, and if eligible, authors will be asked to submit a curriculum vitae.

Criteria for Award

  1. Publication in the Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians during previous two years Articles from the December issue may be forwarded in galley form. 
  2. Excellence of scholarship and presentation

Upon publication of each issue of the Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, Founders Award application materials are sent to all eligible JSAH authors. Those interested in being considered for this award are asked to submit a CV to the JSAH editor immediately upon receipt.
List of Past Recipients


2021 Recipient:

Etien Santiago
“Notre-Dame du Raincy and the Great War”
Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, Vol. 78, No. 4, December 2019

In “Notre-Dame du Raincy and the Great War,” Etien Santiago illuminates how the church of Notre-Dame du Raincy (1923) near Paris, by Auguste and Gustave Perret, served not only as a place of worship, but as a memorial to the ravages of World War I. Underscoring its memorial role in turn allows Santiago to elaborate significantly on the more often-cited construction innovations introduced in this building. Santiago deftly interweaves direct observation with broad-ranging documentary research to convey the history, materiality, and experience of the church. The article situates the church within the context of other French memorials and war-time structures, demonstrating both the conservative and avant-garde aspects of its memorial features. These include the pictorial content of the windows and the materiality of the load-bearing structure—in particular the exposed surfaces of bare concrete imprinted with the wood grain of recycled formwork. By convincingly arguing that this novel use of rough, exposed concrete was not only a striking aesthetic gesture but an intentional evocation of the strength and expedience of battlefield architecture, including defensive bunkers and fortifying trenches, Santiago opens a potential new avenue of interpretation for béton brut, one of the most distinctive materials of later twentieth-century modern architecture.

Award Committee:
Matthew A. Cohen, Chair
Marie Frank
Lucia Santa Ana Lozada

SAH thanks The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation
for its operating support.
Society of Architectural Historians
1365 N. Astor Street
Chicago, Illinois 60610