Vincent J. Scully Jr. ’40, widely considered one of the nation’s foremost architects, has been selected as this year’s recipient of the Urban Land Institute J.C. Nichols Prize for Visionary Urban Development.
“Nobody’s had a more profound effect on the shape of our urban life than him, starting with his fight against mindless urban renewal right here in New Haven,” said Robert Stern ARC ’65, dean of the Yale School of Architecture.
The award is sponsored by the Urban Land Institute, a nonprofit educational and research organization that strives to represent all aspects of the commercial real estate industry. According to the ULI, the $100,000 prize is awarded to a person whose career demonstrates a commitment to the highest standards of responsible development. The award is in honor of the late developer Jesse Clyde Nichols, a founding member of the ULI. Scully is the fourth annual recipient.
Scully has had a long and distinguished career at Yale. A native of New Haven, he received a full scholarship to Yale at the age of 16. Scully is now a professor of art and art history as well as a lecturer at the School of Architecture.
“My own attitudes toward the city were shaped in large part during my years as his student — and like many people who were privileged to study with him, I think of myself as Vincent Scully’s student not only during my years at Yale, but for the rest of my life,” said architectural critic Paul Goldberger ’72, a member of the Nichols Prize jury.
Last spring, Stern announced the establishment of the Vincent J. Scully Jr. Visiting Professorship in Architectural History at Yale. In 1999, Scully was honored by the National Building Museum in Washington as the first recipient of the Vincent Scully Prize to honor individuals for their outstanding contributions to the built environment through scholarship, research, writing or professional practice. In addition to these and other professional accolades, Scully is revered as an inspiration by many of his students.
“Through his writing, his deep and constant civic engagement, and most of all his lifetime of teaching at Yale, Vincent Scully has had an extraordinary influence on the shape of the American city,” Goldberger said. “He has always taught that the point of architecture is not just the making of buildings but the making of civilized communities, and he has helped two generations of students to understand how much cities matter to the future of this country.”
Nichols Prize jury chairman Peter S. Rummell wrote in his decision how Scully’s academic background was an important factor in the jury’s discussion.
“It takes academics to create an intellectual stimulus, which is what the award was designed to celebrate,” Rummell said in his decision. “Nobody has thought about community design in a richer way than Vincent Scully.”
Rummell said many of Scully’s former students have had enormous influence on urban planning and design.
“They understand that architecture is but one piece of what you do, and that only when planning is done in the whole that a sense of place is achieved,” he said. “Scully has a great ability to put things in context, to show that urban design is not just about architecture.”
Scully will receive the prize at a luncheon next month in New York.
“It’s a great and amazing honor,” Stern said. “There have been only four of them — Sen. [Daniel Patrick] Moynihan, Gerald Hines, Joseph Riley Jr. — so he’s up there in great company, and it’s well deserved.”