Toshiko Mori AR'76 Awarded 2019 Topaz Medallion

POSTED ON: December 13, 2018

Photo by Ralph Gibson

Photo by Ralph Gibson

Toshiko Mori AR’76 has been awarded the 2019 AIA/ASCA Topaz Medallion for Excellence in Architectural Education, the highest honor that can be given in architectural pedagogy. Mori’s long and rich history as an educator dates back to Cooper Union, where she was invited to teach by then Dean John Hejduk in 1983. While maintaining her eponymous architectural practice, she then moved to the Harvard Graduate School of Design, where she became the first tenured female faculty member and where she continues to teach today, as the Robert P. Hubbard Professor in the Practice of Architecture.

“Toshiko the educator exercises the same generosity towards the students as she does her colleagues and imbues each conversation or review with empathy that very few architectural critics have,” wrote Hashim Sarkis, dean of MIT’s School of Architecture and Planning, in a letter supporting Mori’s nomination. “What is unique about her teaching is the way she establishes open conversations with modern architecture through specific inquiries into specific projects, which then open up ideas to develop and evolve.”


  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.