Michael Barranco was a near and dear friend to a lot of us here; he’s probably the reason that I’m here. He lived by the words: “beyond architecture.” By that, he meant that we change more than sites, more than buildings, and more than more than the spaces within them. We also have the opportunity to change lives, families, and communities if we’re willing to take on the mantle of civic duty with the combination of passion and humility. We’ve always looked at potential nominees each year in light of those words, and a lot of soul-searching goes into the selection of that particular individual.
When we took nominations and held the vote, it wasn’t close. As a matter of fact, someone emailed me privately and said “we should have made this selection years ago.” The winner is someone who I can characterize, both her as a person and also her work, with one word: mystique. Normally, if you characterize an architect’s work that way, it gives them license to do anything because how can you question mystique? But when they’re able to combine the quality of mystique with grace, curiosity, humility, and love, then you actually sometimes find, as you do in this case, a person who has become that rarest breed of architect: one whose work can not only enchant you like something wonderful and exotic you have never experienced before, but also welcome you as dear friend you’ve known since childhood. I think of her as a sort of Rosetta Stone; able to translate between architectural realms that are impossibly different, as she does work equally as elegant, from the Modernist to the traditional. These abilities are only rarely found embodied in one person. It is my great honor to present this year’s Barranco Award to Julie Sanford.