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FIT Awards 2011 Lawrence Israel Prize to David Rockwell

Cheri Fein, executive director, Public and Media Relations or 212 217.4715

Architect and designer David Rockwell has been named the recipient of the 2011 Lawrence Israel Prize, awarded by the Interior Design Department at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT).  The prize, endowed by architect Lawrence J. Israel, has been given annually since 1998 to an individual or firm whose ideas and work enrich FIT Interior Design students course of study.  Each year, the recipient is invited to give a public lecture on a relevant topic. 

Rockwell will speak about his professional journey, Rockwell Groups current projects, and on his new explorations into using technology to create more powerful spatial experiences on Thursday, April 28 at 6:00 pm in the Katie Murphy Amphitheatre at FIT, Seventh Avenue at 27th Street.  This event is free and open to the public, with no reservations required.

David Rockwell founded Rockwell Group in 1984.  Based at Union Square in New York City, with a satellite office in Madrid, Rockwell Group is a cross-disciplinary architecture and design firm that handles a broad spectrum of project types and services, ranging from master planning, strategy, and building to interior design, set design, and custom furniture design.

Past and current projects include hotels, restaurants, hospitals, retail and department stores, theaters, theater sets, casinos, playgrounds, and an airline terminal.  Standouts among these are the Imagination Playground in downtown New York City; the JetBlue Terminal at John F. Kennedy International Airport; and the Nobu restaurants in New York, Dubai and Hong Kong.  Current projects include the sets for Broadways Catch Me If You Can; the new restaurant Untitled at the Whitney Museum of American Art; the first Yotel outside of Europe, in Times Square; W Hotels in Paris and Singapore; a renovation of Los Angeles legendary Hotel Bel Air; and the Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Society at Lincoln Center.

Rockwell and his firm have been nominated for or received more than 100 prizes and awards for their work.  Among these are the National Design Award for Outstanding Achievement in Interior Design from the Smithsonian Institutions Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum (2008); the Presidential Design Award for the restoration and renovation of Grand Central Terminal (2001); and an Emmy Award for Outstanding Art Direction for Variety, Music or Nonfiction Programming for the 82nd Annual Academy Awards (2010).

The Lawrence Israel Prize committee noted:  As educators, we encourage our students to develop their own design process, rather than emulate a fashionable look.  David Rockwell embodies that ideal, characterized not by a single signature style but motivated by a deep commitment to engaging the senses, minds, and souls of all those who encounter his work.  By breaking with the ranks of crisp minimalism, Rockwell leads a sumptuous opposition.

The committee added:  Lauded for his skillful sense of materials, colors, textures and light, he has long been an advocate of the handmade in his words, the radically hand-built.  At the same time he is no stranger to the ever-evolving technologies that rock our world.  Indeed, he is considered a progenitor in the seamless application of technology and has embraced technology as yet another element of design by creating the LAB.  Embedded within Rockwell Group, the LAB focuses on blurring the boundaries between the physical and the virtual to further involve and delight us.  Thanks to his lead, these are potentials that all students of design must now embrace.  David Rockwell's ongoing ability to delight motivates students on the brink of defining their own path. We know that his presence at FIT will inspire our students in ways we cannot predict.

Past Lawrence Israel Prize winners are:

1998     Charles Gwathmey
1999     John F. Saladino
2000     Margo Grant Walsh, Gensler
2001     Clodagh
2002     Billie Tsien
2003     Vicente Wolf
2004     Bromley-Caldari
2005     Adam D. Tihany
2006     Jamie Drake
2007     Lindy Roy
2008     Avro|KO
2009     Gaetano Pesce
2010     Lewis.Tsurumaki.Lewis

FIT's Interior Design program, named by DesignIntelligence as one of the country's top ten interior design programs, by the website as among the top ten programs in the world, and by as the number one interior design program in New York City, has been preparing students for success for more than 50 years. This rigorous, multidisciplinary program combines the academic study of the history and theory of interior design with practical, hands-on projects. In classes taught by industry professionals, students learn drafting techniques, computer modeling, lighting, and materials and methods, with an emphasis on sustainability and user health and safety.