Steven Holl (born December 9, 1947, Bremerton, Washington) is an American academic architect and watercolorist best known for the 1998 Kiasma Contemporary Art Museum in Helsinki, Finland and the controversial 2003 Simmons Hall at MIT, Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S.. In June 2007 the much celebrated Bloch Building addition to the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Missouri opened to the public.
Steven Holl’s design for Simmons Hall of MIT won the Harleston Parker Medal in 2004.
Holl graduated from the University of Washington and pursued architecture studies in Rome in 1970. In 1976, he joined the Architectural Association in London and established his offices New York City, and has taught at Columbia University since 1981.
Holl’s architecture has undergone a shift in emphasis, from his earlier concern with typology to his current concern with a phenomenological approach; that is, with a concern for man’s existentialist, bodily engagement with his surroundings. The shift came about partly due to his interest in the writings of philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty and architect-theorist Juhani Pallasmaa.
In 1998 Holl was awarded the prestigious Alvar Aalto Medal. In 2000, Holl was elected to The American Academy of Arts and Letters. In July 2001 Time Magazine named Steven Holl as America’s Best Architect, for ‘buildings that satisfy the spirit as well as the eye.’ Awards include the 2008 BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in the Arts category, Honorary Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects (2003), the Smithsonian Institute’s Cooper Hewitt National Design Award in Architecture (2002), the French Grande Médaille d’Or (2001), the prestigious Alvar Aalto Medal (1998), the Arnold W. Brunner Prize in Architecture from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the New York American Institute of Architects Medal of Honor (1997). Most recently Steven Holl Architects the School of Art & Art History (University of Iowa, Iowa City) received the AIA 2007 Institute Honor Award for and the AIA New York Chapter 2007 Merit Architecture Award. The Center Section at the Pratt Institute (Brooklyn, New York) and the New Residence at the Swiss Embassy both received the AIA New York Chapter 2007 Honor Architecture Award.
Bloch Addition to the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
Along with Pallasmaa and Alberto Perez-Gomez, Holl wrote essays for a 1994 special issue of the Japanese architectural journal A+U under the title Questions of Perception: Phenomenology of Architecture. The publication was reissued as a book in 2006.