The prize is awarded, by a vote of the Faculty, to a senior thesis of the highest merit on a topic in the history, theory, and/or design of architecture. The wide range of subjects and approaches to the study of architecture, across fields and time periods, appropriately reflects the legacy of Professor James Sloss Ackerman (1919-2016) and his rigorous and innovative scholarship. Ackerman joined the Faculty at Harvard University in 1960, where he taught and advised generations of students and served as the Arthur Kingsley Porter Professor of Fine Arts from 1983 until his retirement in 1990. His methodology situated architecture within the broader contexts of cultural and intellectual history. From the mid-1960s, Ackerman was the most widely read architectural historian in America, and his seminal studies on Michelangelo (1961-64) and Palladio (1964) appealed to both specialists and non-specialists alike. Ackerman’s last book, Origins, Invention, Revision: Studying the History of Art and Architecture (2016), presented essays on diverse topics including reflections on his own interest in architecture which was formed through his military service in Italy in World War II. During his career, Ackerman received many prestigious honors and awards, culminating in 2001 with the Balzan Prize for achievement in architectural history and urbanism and the Paul Kristeller citation of the Renaissance Society of America for lifetime achievement.
The James Sloss Ackerman Senior Thesis Prize in Architecture is supported through a gift made by Ackerman’s family, friends, students, and colleagues.
Comprehensive list of winners of the James Sloss Ackerman Prize
Samantha Meade for her thesis entitled, “Successful Taste: American Domestic Design in the House Beautiful from 1896-1906”