The Daylight and Building Component Award 2010

The Daylight and Building Component Award 2010

James Carpenter is a principle of James Carpenter Design Associates (JCDA), a cross-disciplinary design firm working at the intersection of art, engineering and the built environment.  The firm is recognized for its distinctive use of natural light, which serves as the foundation of its design philosophy.

Carpenter, who is educated as a sculptor from the Rhode Island School of Design, is a unique blend of artist, engineer and architect. His vast experience in working with building materials and being able to bring them to life in an artistic way has earned awards ranging from a MacArthur Fellowship to numerous honours from consulting engineers for his technical work.

“Designing buildings is not the normal terrain for a sculptor, but sculpture does something that architecture often doesn’t and that is to engage the phenomenological qualities of its environment. And here light is one of the primary materials I use to accomplish that task,” says Carpenter. “Like any good artist, it is important that I have a solid understanding of materials.”

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Carpenter’s diverse skills have also led to collaborations with some of the world’s most renowned architects including Norman Foster, Richard Meier and Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. He also works as lead architect on several projects, including the current redesign of the Israel Museum in Jerusalem which is set to open.

“My own interests have always been diverse: materials, fine arts, engineering. That makes the work we do today unique – it is highly technical but it always starts with the poetics: what is the idea? And how do you engage people? What is the phenomenology of the environment you are working with?”

In 2020, James Carpenter has been awarded with The Daylight award, honouring him for his lifelong design work in enhancing the urban environment with daylight and other natural phenomena.


Jury reasoning

“James Carpenter is one of the few who clearly strives for a link between the measurable and the immeasurable, nature and architecture,” said Bjarne Thomsen, Chairman for the award committee. “In this manner his works serve as inspiration for many as they introduce strokes of new direction, content and clear technological know-how to the art and science of daylight and architecture.”