Anya Van der Merwe To Receive AIA Lifetime Achievement Award

Cape Town architect is first South African woman to receive top international lifetime achievement award for architecture 

(Cape Town, 9 February 2012) The American Institute of Architects (AIA) this week announced that Cape Town architect Anya van der Merwe will receive one of its highest honours, a lifetime honorary fellowship and medal for lifetime achievement in architecture. 

Van der Merwe is the first South African woman and only the sixth South African ever to receive this prestigious international award, following in the footsteps of distinguished architects such as Gawie Fagan and Ivor Prinsloo.

The AIA, the largest professional organisation of architects in the world at 80 000 members, is honouring Van der Merwe for her significant contribution to architecture and society, based both on her professional body of work and contribution to academia.

Van der Merwe will be inducted into the AIA's Lifetime Honorary Fellowship and will receive an accompanying medal at a special ceremony at the National Cathedral in Washington DC in May this year. Five other architects, from Australia, Germany, France, Paraguay and China, will also receive this prestigious recognition.

"I am tremendously honoured to receive this recognition from the AIA. As I said to my office colleagues, one must always keep a healthy perspective on these things - awards come and go - but I am still very grateful for and appreciative of the AIA's acknowledgement," Van der Merwe said in reaction to the news. 

Van der Merwe is a director of Van der Merwe Miszewski Architects (VDMMA), which this year celebrates its 21st year in practice. As design architect within the practice, Van der Merwe has been responsible for many important architectural pieces in South Africa including the award-winning Cape Town International Convention Centre, the head offices of De Beers in Johannesburg, the presently under-construction Allan Gray head office in the Cape Town Waterfront, the new UCT Student Administration and Economics Facilities, and several unique contemporary residential buildings, mainly in Cape Town.

During her career Van der Merwe has worked as a member of the academic staff at the School of Architecture of the University of Cape Town, and was appointed Adjunct Professor of Architecture in 2009. Herself a graduate of UCT in 1984, Van der Merwe completed her graduate studies at the Architectural Association in London, the oldest school of architecture in the world. Van der Merwe and VDMMA have published numerous articles on architecture and have won a number of prestigious local and international awards.

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