Athena Medal Winners to Be Feted at CNU 19

Michael Dennis, Fred Koetter, and Colin Rowe Recognized for Dedication and Accomplishments in New Urbanism

Tags for this image:

For six years now, CNU has presented the Athena Medal to some of the most renown names in the field of New Urbanism. The mark of honor, named after the goddess who defended cities, recognizes the legacy of pioneers who laid the groundwork for New Urbanism to flourish.

This year, CNU will award the Athena Medal to two of New Urbanism’s most respected and long term champions, Michael Dennis and Fred Koetter. And, for the first time, CNU will also be awarding a posthumous award for one of New Urbanism’s first and best advocates, Colin Rowe, a man who kept good urbanism alive when its tenets seemed all but forgotten. Further tying the three together, Rowe was both Dennis' and Koetter’s professor at Cornell University, proving the enduring power and impact of education.

Michael Dennis, author of Court and Garden: From the French Hôtel to the City of Modern Architecture, currently teaches urban design and urban form at MIT, and maintains a thriving architecture practice in Boston at the firm he founded, Michael Dennis & Associates. Fred Koetter, who co-authored Collage City with Colin Rowe, served as dean of Yale University’s School of Architecture from 1993 to 1998. He is a founding partner at Koetter Kim & Associates, Inc., Architecture and Urban Design.

Koetter and Dennis have worked consistently to integrate principals of robust urban design with beautiful, functional, appropriately-scaled architecture in cities and college campuses around the nation and the world. While their respective work has earned its fair share of accolades worldwide, Koetter and Dennis, who were college roommates at the University of Oregon, also shared the same mentor: Colin Rowe. Koetter was a student in Rowe's urban design studio and, as colleagues at Cornell, Dennis and Koetter would benefit from Rowe's guidance and support.

Despite teaching in the era of high modernism, Rowe challenged the dominant orthodoxy of the day through his lectures and writings. Rowe emphasized contextual thinking and careful planning, never wavering in this commitment to repairing the divested urban fabric. Today, the real-world results of Rowe’s dedication can be seen clearly in Dennis and Koetter’s successful and comprehensive designs.

As this year’s awards make clearer than ever, one of New Urbanism’s greatest goals and gifts is the education of the next generation. Whether that is through the writing of innovative books, the design and development of beautiful, walkable academic campuses, or simply the influence of a wonderful teacher, Dennis, Koetter, and Rowe each give our New Urbanist community an inspiring legacy to learn from. The 6th annual Athena Medal ceremony will be held during CNU 19: Growing Local, in Madison, Wisconsin, on Thursday, June 2nd at 5:30 pm.