Each year beginning in 1991, the Western European Architecture Foundation has awarded the Gabriel Prize, named after one of France’s most famous architects, Ange-Jacques Gabriel (1698-1782), author of such extraordinary achievements as Place de la Concorde, the Petit Trianon at Versailles, L’École Militaire, and the Château de Compiègne. Prize winners receive a $20,000 grant for the study of classical architecture and landscape in France, embarking on a three-month itinerary of their own devising. While abroad, Gabriel laureates focus on a particular aspect of French architecture, specifically architectural compositions in France built between 1630 and 1930, as well as keep a traveling sketchbook and prepare three large colored perspective drawings reflecting their skill.
The selection process includes three phases, with candidates registering their interest through the submission of pertinent illustration of personal work and an outline of the studies contemplated. A first jury is empowered to select from such submissions three candidates who are then invited to meet a second jury assembled with the task of naming the final winner and a runner-up.
An initial jury selected three finalists, including Diego Arias and another Virginia Tech Architecture alumnus, Jonathan Fleming (M.Arch. 1998). The second jury (Patrick J. Fleming, President; Carol Fleming, Vice-President; Raymond L. Gindroz, FAIA; Stephen Harby; Patrick L. Pinnell, AIA; Amy Gardner, FAIA; Mireille Roddier; and Joyce Rosner) met in San Antonio, TX on Feb. 23rd to select the 2018 Gabriel Prize winner.
The Western European Architecture Foundation and the Gabriel Prize program were founded by George Parker, Jr., an American patriot, a Texan, and a Francophile. He believed passionately in the humanizing power of classical architecture and strove to find some way to bring its spirit back to our own country. The Foundation exists to encourage the practice of hand-drawing in architecture, which Parker feared was being lost to computer-aided design software used commonly in modern society.