Contemporary architect Francis Kéré, known for using sustainable materials and construction methods while incorporating a sense of locality and community in his designs, has been named the winner of the 2021 Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medal in Architecture.
The award is one of four typically presented in observance of Jefferson’s April 13 birthday. The presentations usually include a formal dinner at Monticello, a medal presentation at the University of Virginia and public talks by the medalists.
Because of the pandemic, officials with the school and the organization will present the award during a virtual event. Medals for law, citizen leadership and global innovation will be announced later.
“Although circumstances preclude a traditional in-person celebration, they do not diminish our admiration for Kéré’s innovative work and invaluable contributions not only to the field of architecture, but to our society as a whole,” UVa President Jim Ryan said in a statement.
Kéré Architecture has designed renowned projects on four continents, including the Burkina Faso National Assembly in Ouagadougou; the Léo Surgical Clinic & Health Centre in Léo, Burkina Faso; IT University in Burkina Faso; the Lycée Schorge Secondary School, in Koudougou, Burkina Faso; and Xylem, a gathering pavilion for the Tippet Rise Art Center in Fishtail, Montana.
The medals are presented annually by UVa and the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, an independent, nonprofit organization that owns and operates Jefferson’s home, Monticello. The medals recognize contributions in the fields at which Jefferson excelled and held in esteem.
Leslie Greene Bowman, president and CEO of the foundation, said Jefferson believed that each person should contribute to society according to their natural abilities and fortune.
“This year’s Medalist in Architecture, Francis Kéré, embodies the spirit of this charge through his selfless, determined work,” she said. “While we are disappointed that we cannot award this honor to him in person, we are inspired by his creativity and commitment to the public good and hope to welcome him to Charlottesville in the future.”