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Vincent Scully Prize

The National Building Museum recognizes Theaster Gates, world-renowned artist and social innovator, as the twenty-fifth recipient of the Museum’s annual Vincent Scully Prize. The Vincent Scully Prize, established in 1999, is named for the esteemed professor who inspired so many across the building disciplines. Scully was the Sterling Professor Emeritus of the History of Art at Yale University and Distinguished Visiting Professor at the University of Miami. For more than four decades, his teaching and scholarship profoundly influenced prominent architects, urban planners, and others.

The Prize recognizes excellence in practice, scholarship, or criticism in architecture, historic preservation, and urban design. The nomination and selection process for each year’s recipient resides within the Prize jury. 


Theaster Gates (b.1973) currently lives and works in Chicago. Gates creates works that engage with space theory and land development, sculpture and performance. Drawing on his interest and training in urban planning and preservation, Gates redeems spaces that have been left behind. Known for his recirculation of art world capital, Gates’s practice focuses on the possibility of the “life within things.” His work contends with the notion of Black space as a formal exercise – one defined by collective desire, artistic agency, and the tactics of a pragmatist.

Gates has received numerous awards, including the Isamu Noguchi Award (2023), the Crystal Award (2020), Nasher Prize (2018), the Kurt Schwitters Prize (2017), the American Academy of Arts & Sciences Award (2016), and the Smithsonian American Ingenuity Award for Social Progress (2015). His work can be found in public collections worldwide, including the Menil Collection, Houston; the Brooklyn Museum of Art, New York; the National Gallery of Canada, Ontario; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; the Tate Gallery, London; and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Gates is a professor at the University of Chicago in the Department of Visual Arts and the Harris School of Public Policy.