Celebrating the City, the 2020 MAS Awards

Honoring Excellence in Art and Architecture

Our annual Celebrating the City awards reception was postponed in March 2020, however, we held virtual presentations of the MASterworks 2020 winners. During Archtober 2020, a month-long celebration of design and urbanism during the month of October, the MASterworks awards were presented as a virtual series, celebrating design excellence in New York City. The virtual program shared MASterworks projects past and present, featuring conversations with the 2020 winners, moderated by winners of years past. Rewatch the MASterworks programs on the MAS YouTube channel here.

The postponed 2020 Brendan Gill Prize Ceremony will be held on September 14, 2021, at the newly-restored Concert Grove Pavilion in Prospect Park. We will pay tribute to Julia Wolfe for her magnificent oratorio, Fire in my mouth, a hauntingly beautiful retelling of the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire.

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Tuesday, March 24
6:30 PM — 9:30 PM

Japan Society
333 East 47th St
New York, NY 10017

Tickets:

  • portrait of composer Julia Wolfe
    Julia Wolfe. Photo: Peter Serling.
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  • Jaap van Zweden conducts the New York Philharmonic in the world premiere of Julia Wolfe's Fire in My Mouth at David Geffen Hall, January 24, 2019. Photo: Chris Lee.
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  • Photo: Chris Lee.
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  • Photo: Chris Lee.
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  • Photo: Chris Lee.
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  • Photo: Chris Lee.
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The Brendan Gill Prize was established in 1987 in honor of Brendan Gill by friend and fellow MAS board member Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis along with board members Helen Tucker and Margot Wellington. The Prize is given each year to the creator of a specific work—a book, essay, musical composition, play, painting, sculpture, architectural design, film or choreographic piece—that best captures the spirit and energy of New York City. 

2020 Brendan Gill Prize Honoree

Julia Wolfe

Fire in my mouth

The 2020 Brendan Gill Prize honors the composer, Julia Wolfe, for her magnificent oratorio, Fire in my mouth, a hauntingly beautiful retelling of the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire.

The Brendan Gill Prize Jury was impressed with the how this spectacular conception, managed in one large multimedia piece, presented in David Geffen Hall, January 24 – 26, 2019, conveys the story of the promise of immigration; the treatment of unfair labor practices; and the history of women-led protests that would shape the civic and political life of New York City. A wide breadth of musical techniques, performed by the chamber choir, The Crossing, the Young People’s Chorus of New York City, and the New York Philharmonic, mine an emotional tragedy of contemporary relevance.

Julia Wolfe’s oratorio illuminates what a piece of orchestral music can be and do. The 146 female singers, standing in for the 146 garment workers who perished in the fire, also speaks to the power of our city, its history, and all of the people who have made it what it is today. For all of this, the 2020 Brendan Gill Prize Jury sat in deep admiration.

The Brendan Gill Jury selected this extraordinary piece from a highly competitive field of nominations.

 

Gill Prize Finalists: Special Recognition

A note from John Haworth, Chair of the Gill Prize Jury

During deliberations for the 2020 Gill Prize, the jury was struck by the quality of four books that draw on the historical record of our City in quite special and particular ways. We are proud to honor these four writers—all finalists for the Gill Prize—with special designation this year.

Gabrielle Bendiner-Viani’s Contested City: Art & Public History as Mediation at New York’s Seward Park Urban Renewal Area articulates how important community-based residents and organizations are in shaping public policy and informing decision making.

Thomas J. Campanella’s Brooklyn: The Once and Future City is a seriously ambitious book that is meticulously and thoroughly researched. The author brings a bold perspective of place — and one that is in sharp contrast to history told through a Manhattan lens.

Photographer Stanley Greenberg’s CODEX New York; Typologies of the City challenges us to take a closer look at the everyday visual components of our City’s infrastructure that reveal layers upon layer of our shared histories. Greenberg took over 500 photographs based on a walk of every block of Manhattan. The physical landscape is connected to our political and social histories over the decades. The highlighted visual details reveal so much about our collective, shared histories.

Eric K. Washington’s Boss of the Grips: The Life of James H. Williams and the Red Caps of Grand Central Terminal is a deeply informed and personal story of the Harlem-based black men who worked at New York City’s major train station. The book is a remarkable telling of a story about race, class, labor, and social and economic history. This highly personal story speaks to much larger and universally significant issues.

Learn more about the Brendan Gill Prize  >

  • exterior of the Madison Square Boys and Girls Club Pinkerton Clubhouse
    The Madison Square Boys and Girls Club Pinkerton Clubhouse, winner of the 2020 Masterworks Award for Best New Building. Photo: ROGERS PARTNERS Architects + Urban Designers, photograph by Albert Vecerka Esto.
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  • the Fire Watchtower at Marcus Garvey Park
    The Fire Watchtower at Marcus Garvey Park, winner of the 2020 Masterworks Award for Best Restoration. Photo: New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, Thornton Tomasetti, photograph by Alexander Severin.
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  • exterior of the TWA Hotel at JFK Airport
    The TWA Hotel, winner of the 2020 Masterworks Award for Best Adaptive Reuse. Photo: Beyer Blinder Belle, photograph by David Mitchell.
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  • plaza area and shops inside Essex Market
    Essex Market / The Market Line, winner of the 2020 Masterworks Award for Best New Urban Amenity. Photo: SHoP Architects, photograph by QuallsBenson.
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  • El Barrio Bait Station
    El Barrio Bait Station, winner of the 2020 Masterworks Award for Best New Infrastructure. Photo: JACOBSCHANG Architecture, photograph by Ryan Lahiff.
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  • Roberto Clemente State Park
    Roberto Clemente State Park, winner of the 2020 Masterworks Award for Best Urban Landscape. Photo: NV5.
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Selected each year by our esteemed jury, the MASterworks Awards pay tribute to projects that make a significant contribution to New York City’s built environment. From some of the city’s most iconic buildings to its hidden gems, our list of past winners includes the likes of New Lab, the Fulton Center, McCarren Pool, Brooklyn Bridge Park Boathouse, the High Bridge, and the Museum at Eldridge Street. 

2020 MASterworks Honorees

Selected each year by our esteemed jury, the MASterworks Awards pay tribute to projects that make a significant contribution to New York City’s built environment. From some of the city’s most iconic buildings to inconspicuous local gems, our list of past winners includes the likes of Domino Park, New Lab, the Fulton Center, McCarren Pool, TKTS Booth, the High Bridge, and the Museum at Eldridge Street.

This year’s MASterworks winners are:

  • Madison Square Boys & Girls Club Pinkerton Clubhouse – Best New Building
  • The Fire Watchtower at Marcus Garvey Park – Best Restoration
  • TWA Hotel – Best Adaptive Reuse
  • Essex Market / The Market Line – Best New Urban Amenity
  • El Barrio Bait Station – Best New Infrastructure
  • The Reconstruction of Roberto Clemente State Park – Best Urban Landscape

Learn more about the MASterworks Awards  >

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logo for the Brendan Gill Prize
1987

Establishing the Brendan Gill Prize

MAS establishes the annual Brendan Gill Prize, which honors the creator of a specific work of art produced in the previous year that best captures the spirit and energy of New York City. The inaugural prize is given to Rudolph Burckhardt for a film series at MoMA.

View Our Full History