2013 - Andrew von Maur

Andrew-von-Maur

Thanks so much to Bruce Tolar, Mike Thompson, and the other members of the Barranco Award selection committee for their dedication to this award. I’ll speak a bit about Michael, then Andrew’s colleague Mark Moreno will have some words about Andrew and accept the award on his behalf.

Michael Barranco was a Renaissance man; an architect, artist, musician, and civic leader. But Michael’s life and work also had a much broader impact, even though he never would have told you so himself.

I first met Michael in Jackson, Mississippi, at DPZ’s planning charrette for Lost Rabbit, a new town in Mississippi. Michael, serving as Town Architect, asked me to plan a subsequent architectural charrette for Lost Rabbit. That charrette, in July 2004, would be the second ever held by the New Urban Guild, after Alys Beach that January.

Michael was the linchpin of an extraordinary decision made on the first morning of the charrette that led to the rediscovery three days later of the “heartbeat of living traditions,” which is these four words: We do this because…

Katrina came just over a year later. Michael called just after the storm and said “Steve, we’re assembling a Governor’s Commission, and we’d like for you to speak to them about rebuilding Mississippi according New Urbanist principles” I said “that’s a job far too big for me; let me talk to Andrés.” The next morning I went to DPZ and after discussing it, he said “that’s a job too big for me, too,” and so he picked up the phone and called John Norquist. And the rest we all know.

Through the years that followed, Michael worked quietly at the highest levels to advance the right ideals of rebuilding. Without him, we were just a bunch of outsiders, but with him, we were far more effective. If you really pressed him, he would simply say that he was doing what any civic-minded person would do. But he’s responsible for so much more than that.

The Katrina Cottages initiative sprang out of the recovery work. Katrina Cottages would likely never have existed without Michael. So this one man, humbly doing what he considered to be his civic duty, has seen the influences of that duty ripple outward far beyond what he ever would have imagined.

That civic duty ended on a tragic night just south of Memphis. The first tragic death ever recorded was that of Abel. Roughly 4,000 years later, it was said of him that “he, being dead, is yet speaking.” In like manner, we cannot yet fully know the legacy of Michael Barranco, as it is still growing.

This year’s recipient of the New Urban Guild’s Barranco Award for Architecture is Andrew von Maur. I don’t know if Michael and Andrew ever met, but I do know that they were men of like talents, like service, like heart, and like faith. Andrew is an enormously talented architect, planner, illustrator, and educator at Andrews University. Today, he is traveling with his students somewhere in Europe. His colleague, Mark Moreno, is here to accept the award for him.

~Steve Mouzon

Andrew extends his sincere thanks to the New Urban guild and especially to the Barranco Family for this distinguished award.  

In 1996, when I came to Andrews University, which is a Seventh Day Adventist Institution, Andrew von Maur was at the top of his class, one of the most talented groups of students with which I’ve ever worked.  Two years later, for our accreditation visit, the work of this class as fifth year students under Philip Bess’s direction, again with Andrew leading, most clearly illuminated for the architecture faculty in 1998 that the urban design and new urban vision Philip had introduced just a few years prior had established solid roots.   

To reinterpret Winston Churchill’s claim about buildings, I’d like to offer that, we shape our students, and in turn they shape us.  This is especially true with Andrew von Maur.  With Philip’s lead, the school’s architecture faculty crafted a meaningful, tightly knit curriculum increasingly reinforcing urban design principles in each of its five years.  While sad and worried when Philip left to direct the graduate studies at Notre Dame, I am proud to say that Andrew von Maur stepped in and successfully furthered the vision Philip and early CNU members had founded.  Andrew has since led his urban design classes to an unprecedented five Charter Awards and continued to shape the school in positive ways. 

As a colleague since 2003, Andrew has served with distinction.   His work within the architecture school, with the New Urbanism, with the New Urban Guild is held in high regard by his colleagues, is inspirational and highly influential with our students, some of which (I’m happy to say) are here at this conference.  His ability to network and to further the goals of New Urbanism and to further the goals of his students is phenomenal.  He continues to influence and shape me in profound ways and on top of it all, he is a delightful and charismatic person.

From Europe, Andrew wants me to underscore for you the fact that his work with the school, the students and especially the Adventist faith-based mission of our program enables him to pursue the work and relationships recognized by the Barranco Award. He did not know Michael, but shared admiration for his life’s accomplishments and gratitude for the collegial, collaborative spirit and generous support of all those Guild members with whom he has worked and studied.  He has learned much from them and looks forward to many more opportunities for good and useful work with the Guild.  And he says, I quote “They are the best.”

So it is with great privilege that I accept this award on Andrew’s behalf.

~Mark Moreno


© New Urban Guild 2014