Architect Lesley Lokko

Lesley Lokko wins 2020 RIBA Annie Spink Award

Scottish-Ghanaian architect Lesley Lokko has won the 2020 RIBA Annie Spink Award for her contribution to architectural education.

Lokko was named the 11th winner of the Annie Spink Award for Excellence in Architectural Education, which is awarded every two years by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) to a person who has "made an outstanding contribution to architectural education".

Lokko dedicates award to BLM supporters, GSA teachers and students

"I am deeply humbled by the jury's decision," Lokko said of winning the award. "This award is for everyone who came out in support of the Black Lives Matter protests, which put such difficult and challenging questions on the table for us all."

"It is also dedicated to the teachers and students at the Graduate School of Architecture at the University of Johannesburg, whose tenacity and inventiveness have charted a new path for architectural education."

"Together with the profound intellectual generosity I experienced as a student at the Bartlett School of Architecture in the 1990s, they remain crucial touchstones in my teaching practice, now and in whatever comes next," she added.

Lokko founded and led the Graduate School of Architecture (GSA) at the University of Johannesburg, and has taught at institutions including Iowa State University, University of Illinois, Kingston University, University of Westminster and the University of North London.

Her most recent role was dean of architecture at the Spitzer School of Architecture in New York. In October last year she resigned from the role – a decision that she called a "profound act of self-preservation".

She had been appointed in June 2019 but left due to a crippling workload. She also cited a lack of empathy for black people, especially black women, in the wake of the George Floyd killing as a reason for her resignation.

She now plans to start building the African Futures Institute, an independent postgraduate school of architecture in Accra, Ghana, this January.

Lokko has "demonstrated impactful leadership"

Presenting the award RIBA president Alan Jones described Lokko as an "internationally renowned educator".

"Congratulations to professor Lesley Lokko, the deserving winner of our 2020 Annie Spink Award," said Jones.

"Lesley's impressive career in architectural education has spanned decades, and she has established herself as an internationally renowned educator."

"Lesley has demonstrated impactful leadership, passion and an unwavering commitment to architectural education and research, and lectured and published widely on the subjects of race, identity and architecture. I am delighted to present professor Lesley Lokko with this accolade," he added.

Previous winners of the award include Elia Zenghelis, Peter Cook, Nigel Coates and Florian Beigel. In 2018 the award was given to Murray Fraser who is professor of architecture and global culture at the Bartlett School of Architecture in London.

Photography is by RIBA. Main portrait by Debra Hurford-Brown.