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Walker, Wilkinson to Receive Thomas Jefferson Medals

January 16, 2004

By Derry Wade and Michael Marshall

J . Harvie Wilkinson III (far right), the former Chief Judge of the Richmond-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, and landscape architect Peter Walker, principal of Peter Walker and Partners and newly selected winner of the design competition for the World Trade Center memorial, have been chosen to receive the annual Thomas Jefferson Medals in Law and Architecture, respectively.

The medals, sponsored jointly by the University of Virginia and the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, which owns and operates Monticello, are the highest outside honors given by U.Va. They will be presented to Wilkinson and Walker on April 13 as part of Founder’s Day activities here.

“These medals emphasize the vitality of the Jeffersonian ideals of creativity and leadership in today’s world, and it is a privilege to join with the University in honoring individuals whose accomplishments have had a significant impact on our culture as well as our legacy for future generations,” said Daniel P. Jordan, president of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation.

J. Harvie Wilkinson III

Often discussed as a potential U.S. Supreme Court nominee, Wilkinson earned his J.D. from the U.Va. School of Law in 1972 and then served as clerk to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Lewis F. Powell Jr.

A Historic Medal

The Thomas Jefferson Medal in Architecture has been awarded annually since 1966; the Thomas Jefferson Medal in Law, annually since 1977. The awards recognize excellence in two fields that were of particular interest to their namesake.

The medal itself is a modified copy of the Jefferson Indian Peace Medal, designed and engraved by John Reich in 1801. In the original, Thomas Jefferson’s profile is depicted on one side of the silver medal with the inscription: “Th. Jefferson President of the U.S. A.D. 1801.” On the reverse side are depicted clasped hands, a tomahawk and a peace pipe with the inscription: “Peace and Friendship.” Originally, the medals were presented to Native American chiefs on their visits to the nation’s capital, when treaties were signed. Meriwether Lewis and William Clark also carried them on their journey to the Pacific Ocean.

In the 1980s, the medal was redesigned by Jaquelin T. Robertson, later the 1998 recipient of the medal in architecture, so that the reverse side features an engraving of the recipient’s name and the year.

Wilkinson has returned to the Law School to teach four times. He served as editor of the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot from 1978-81 and as deputy assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice in 1983-84. He was on the University’s Board of Visitors from 1970 to 1973. He is the author of “Harry Byrd and the Changing Face of Virginia Politics” (1968); “From Brown to Bakke, The Supreme Court and School Integration” (1979), and “One Nation Indivisible, How Ethnic Separatism Threatens America” (1997).

Wilkinson, who continues to serve on U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, is known for conservative rulings. In a speech to the Law School last spring titled “Why Conservative Jurisprudence is Compassionate,” he argued that the nation’s courts have a higher duty to maintain rational and impartial standards of judgment that preserve public trust in the judiciary than in finding remedies for social problems, a task properly left to legislatures. Conservative judges are faulted as too strict about adhering to rules or caring more about hypothetical future issues than immediate injuries to claimants, he said, but emotional decisions lead to disparate outcomes that end up undermining public confidence in the justice system.

“Reason, cold calculating unimpassioned reason, must furnish all the materials of our future support and defense,” Wilkinson said, borrowing Abraham Lincoln’s words.

Peter Walker

A founding partner of the architectural firm Sasaki, Walker and Associates, Peter Walker later opened the firm’s successful West Coast office, The S.W.A. Group. His current practice, Peter Walker and Partners, focuses on parks and corporate and educational campuses, here and abroad. Recent projects include the Millennium Park for the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia; the Sony Center in Berlin, Germany; the San Diego Library Walk in California; and Sky Forest Plaza in Tokyo, Japan.

Walker, a graduate of the landscape architecture program at the University of Illinois and of the Harvard Graduate School of Design, has chaired departments of landscape architecture at Harvard and the University of California at Berkeley. His founding of Spacemaker Press, including the LandFORUM series, raised the visibility of landscape architecture and provided a scholarly forum for project analysis.

He is a fellow of the American Society of Landscape Architects, a recipient of the Institute Honor from the American Institute of Architects, a fellow of the Institute of Urban Design and the recipient of the Rome Prize from the American Institute in Rome, among other honors.

Both recipients are expected to make public remarks during their visit here in April. An exhibition of Walker’s work also will be on display at the School of Architecture, April 5-24, weekdays 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Recipients of Thomas Jefferson Medals
In Architecture
1966 Mies van der Rohe
1967 Alvar Aalto
1968 Marcel Breuer
1969 John Ely Burchard
1970 Kenzo Tange
1971 Jose Luis Sert
1972 Lewis Mumford
1973 Jean Labatut
1974 Frei Otto
1975 Sir Nikolaus Pevsner
1976 I.M. Pei
1977 Ada Louise Huxtable
1978 Philip Johnson
1979 Lawrence Halprin
1980 Hugh A. Stubbins
1981 Edward Larrabee Barnes
1982 Vincent Scully
1983 Robert Venturi
1984 H.H. The Aga Khan
1985 Leon Krier
1986 James Stirling
1987 Romaldo Giurgola
1988 Dan Kiley
1989 Paul Mellon
1990 Fumihiko Maki
1991 John V. Lindsay
1992 Aldo Rossi
1993 Andres M. Duany &
Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk
1994 Frank O. Gehry
1995 Ian L. McHarg
1996 Jane Jacobs
1997 Jaime Lerner
1998 Jaquelin T. Robertson
1999 Lord Richard Rogers
2000 Daniel Patrick Moynihan
2001 Glenn Murcutt
2002 James Turrell
2003 Tod Williams & Billie Tsien

In Law
1977 Carl McGowan
1978 Henry J. Friendly
1979 Paul Abraham Freund
1980 Erwin N. Griswold
1981 Lewis Franklin Powell Jr.
1982 Warren Minor Christopher
1983 Lord Justice Scarman
1984 Griffin B. Bell
1985 Warren E. Burger
1986 William H. Webster
1987 Sandra Day O’Connor
1988 Edmund Sixtus Muskie
1989 Sam Nunn
1990 Collins J. Sietz
1991 Robert M. Morgenthau
1992 Marian Wright Edelman
1993 William H. Rehnquist
1994 Richard A. Posner
1995 Lloyd N. Cutler
1996 Rex Lee (posthumously)
1997 Ruth Bader Ginsburg
1998 Alan K. Simpson
1999 Elaine R. Jones
2000 Guido Calabresi
2001 Mortimer M. Caplin
2002 Seth P. Waxman
2003 Anthony M. Kennedy


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