Endowed by the architect Lawrence J. Israel, the prize has been given annually since 1998 to an individual or firm whose ideas and work enrich FIT Interior Design students’ course of study.
Known for the High Line and the renovation of Lincoln Center, DS+R is a 40-person interdisciplinary studio based in New York City. For three decades, the firm has been involved with all fields of design, including graphics, installations, experimental dance and theater productions. Past and current projects include museums, restaurants, civic buildings, entertainment complexes, houses, high-rise residential mixed-use developments, and theater and performance pieces. Prominent among these are The Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston; The Brasserie in the Seagram Building; the Blur Building, Switzerland; and Moving Target, a dance work made in collaboration with Charleroi/Danses, Belgium and loosely based on Nijinsky's uncensored diaries. Diller and Scofidio are the first architects to have been honored with a MacArther Prize.
The Lawrence Israel Prize committee noted, “Diller Scofidio + Renfro stands as a keen role model for all students of design, particularly for our students at FIT. Whether it is exterior or interior, written or spoken, their work inspires thought. One never simply inhabits a work by DS+R; instead they provoke us with new perspectives both literally and metaphorically. They’ve proven to New York how unnecessary it is to pull down the house when smart surgical insertions can upturn a foundation. More than architects, they are the alchemists and choreographers of a new mode of dwelling.”
Previous Lawrence Israel Prize honorees have included: 1998 Charles Gwathmey; 1999 John F. Saladino; 2000 Margo Grant Walsh, Gensler; 2001 Clodagh; 2002 Billie Tsien; 2003 Vicente Wolf; 2004 Bromley-Caldari; 2005 Adam D. Tihany; 2006 Jamie Drake; 2007 Lindy Roy; 2008 Avro|KO; 2009 Gaetano Pesce; 2010 Lewis.Tsurumaki.Lewis; 2011 David Rockwell.