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Akron Art Museum Wins 2008 RIBA International Award, Finalist for Prestigious Lubetkin Prize

For Release: June 2008

Akron, Ohio, June 27, 2008 – Proving once again that it indeed deserves the title “world renowned,” the Akron Art Museum, designed by the Viennese firm Coop Himmelb(l)au, was chosen as one of three finalists for the highly prestigious Lubetkin Prize from the Royal Insitute of British Architects (RIBA) in London. After winning one of RIBA’s 2008 International Awards, following a visit by a jury of architects and lay judge, the Akron Art Museum was honored further by being chosen as one of only three worldwide finalists for the Lubetkin Prize.

According to RIBA, the Prize “recognizes the most outstanding work of architecture outside the UK and European Union by a RIBA member,” and although Casa Kike (Costa Rica) was announced as the 2008 winner, the Akron Art Museum is honored to have been a finalist, as it was the only North American building in the running. Adding to the award’s prestige is the fact that RIBA memberships include not only British architects but many of the world’s leading practitioners elsewhere, such as Coop Himmelb(l)au’s Wolf Prix, who is Austrian. According to Maurizio Sabini, Associate Professor of Architecture & Urban Design at Kent State University in Kent, Ohio, “RIBA is one of the few national associations to grant prizes internationally, to recognize quality designs realized beyond UK national borders.”

"It is an incredible honor for all of us in Akron who worked on the museum's John S. and James L. Knight Building to have it singled out by the world's leading architectural organization as one of the three most important new buildings outside Europe,” said Mitchell Kahan, director and chief executive officer of the Akron Art Museum. “When I think of all the great structures unveiled last year around the globe, from Asia and Africa to North and South America, this recognition underlines the success of our goal to create an innovative design of worldwide significance."

Tony Chapman, RIBA’s Head of Awards and one of the visiting judges, also had complimentary comments for the museum: “The RIBA congratulates the Akron Art Museum and Co-op Himmelb(l)au on their achievement in reaching the shortlist for the prestigious Lubetkin Prize. As judges we were highly impressed with the boldness of the gesture and the way the new building appears to hold the hand of the old. The new museum demonstrates that great architecture can help a city re-invent itself.”

"From the beginning of our search for an architect, we wanted to stretch imaginations and take a calculated risk with innovative design,” said Fred Bidwell, Chair of the museum's Architect Selection Commitee. “It is really rewarding to succeed so dramatically and earn this top recognition from such a distinguished body of architects."
Although Coop Himmelb(l)au didn’t share in the winning of the Lubetkin Prize for the Akron Art Museum, they were awarded another huge honor - a 2008 RIBA European Award for the BMW Welt Event, Exhibition and Automobile Delivery Centre in Munich.

For more information on the Lubetkin Prize or RIBA, visit For more information on Coop Himmelb(l)au and the architecture of the Akron Art Museum, please visit


In addition to these honors, the Akron Art Museum was also recently ranked #18 in the “Top 100 New and Powerful Museums” in the world according to the leading Japanese design magazine Casa Brutus.

Several other ranked museums in the U.S. include the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York at #26, the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth at #31 and the Yale University Art Gallery at #32.

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