<Note: This award presentation was held at an off-site venue, which allowed for more conversation than normally occurs during the awards presentation. Since then, the awards have been presented at the Congress, so presentations are shorter.>
This award that we are here tonight to present tonight to Steve Mouzon is awarded in memory of our fellow-architect Michael Barranco. This award is a celebration of Michael’s life; we all still sorely miss him. Mike Thompson, who worked with Michael, will present the award.
The New Urban Guild is delighted to present the 2012 Barranco Award to Steve Mouzon. Steve has shown a mastery of traditional architecture at the highest levels of quality with a commitment to strengthening the power of community by connecting people physically, emotionally, and spiritually. He has an understanding of the role of place in all its dimensions including the dimensions of climate and culture, and how the individual is affected by the region, the community, the block, the building, and the detail. And he has a gift of building enduring relationships beyond architecture, inspiring passionate coalitions for transformative change in the lives of families and communities, and further, unselfishly not caring who gets the credit. I want to read something that Michael wrote about the phrase “beyond architecture” that was quite the motto in our office. It was always our goal to touch people beyond just this realm of architecture: “Though none of us are perfect, let this vision assist us individually and collectively in striving for a common goal. This is one of excellence, passion, and service that in the end allows us and our families to prosper physically, financially, and spiritually, that we all may do the will of God, which after all is our primary and greatest purpose. While this vision has been condensed, it is important to note that it reminds us that there is a great mission and duty that, if upheld, will only enhance our craft, and ultimately provide for an experience beyond architecture, and for our business relationships. Steve, it is my pleasure to present you with this certificate.
We are blessed with the presence of Jene Barranco, with her children… Michael’s children… to be here in person to present the award to Steve.
Everyone says it’s such a shame that people have to pass away to be noticed and to be lifted up for what they’ve done and the difference they have made in lives in the community. This would make Michael so happy, but not because the award is praising him. Michael’s love language was words of affirmation, and it was because it was his desire to make people happy. His goal was for his architecture to bring happiness; his hope was for people to be able to walk into a place that would bring them pleasure, and help them see beauty. And so I know this award would make him very well pleased because it is well-deserved by you, and it is something that brought everyone’s attention together for a better purpose that is bigger than just what we do to make a living. I started a blog about a week after the accident, and I was reading something I had written for the funeral that was read there. It was called “My Michael,” and it was meant to introduce everyone to the Michael that only we knew; you only saw a part… a watered-down Michael that didn’t have the concentration that he saved just for us. Part of what I wrote was “he paid attention to detail in all parts of his life, and it wasn’t just architecture. It was the details of parenting, the details of being a husband, the details of being a spiritual leader, the details of beauty, the details of how we dressed, the kind of glasses we drank out of… everything. Our garden was all about details. He took so many pictures of details. His camera was full of cornices of buildings, and bricks, and stones, and light fixtures, from everywhere that we would travel. I think that’s why he loved the New Urbanism so much, because it’s about all the details that come together to make such great places. It’s not just about the buildings, but about how it all falls together, and the details that it takes, and the planning, to make it a great place; and I know you understand that, and appreciate that. I very proudly present this award to you, Steve, and I’m thankful that we were able to be here.
Never before in my experience has someone who meant so much been taken so soon after I met them than Michael Barranco. One thing I know that we shared is that both of us both of us take great pleasure in encouraging others, and giving honor to others. I know that Michael would have found it as difficult as I do now to take an honor yourself. As a matter of fact, I thought about fighting this for a long time. My thought was “don’t do this, my friends. Don’t do this.” But then it occurred to me that if Michael were able to speak audibly to us right now, knowing how great a pleasure he got from honoring others, he would take pleasure in this, I would think. And I know there are those here tonight who can speak audibly, and who feel the same way. And so if I were to refuse this, I would be depriving you all of pleasure. And so I decided to go ahead and do this. But the one thing I wanted to mention about this group, the New Urban Guild, is this: For two hundred years, the prime virtues of business were quality, speed, and economy, or better-faster-cheaper, if you will. This occurred throughout what I call the Era of the Company, when the company was central to our economic lives. I believe we are now entering a time I like to call the Age of the Idea, and even the virtues are changing to patience, generosity, and connectedness. Patience is the opposite of speed. Generosity is the opposite of economy. Connectedness is a bit strange, but it has relevance to the Guild. The way quality used to work was that you got published and well-known, and therefore connected to a lot of people as a result of the quality of your work. Unfortunately, that approach often leads to arrogance because it’s easy to say “all of these good things are happening to me because I am so good.” It was always my hope since the first moment that Nathan first laid out the idea of the New Urban Guild that in gathering us all together that each of us would become better than we ever would have been on our own. And so that connectedness has led to quality in everyone’s work that I’ve seen over the years. What happens when you go from connectedness to quality, rather than quality to connectedness, is that you realize that “I’m better today because of you, and because of you, and because of you…” as you go around the room, you see all these people that you’re better as a result of having worked with them. And that leads to humility because you realize your higher quality today is a result of your connections to them. That has always been the first dream of the Guild… that we would build better places as a result of our connectedness. I hope we carry that forward from now on.
I cannot think of a better awardee. I want you to know that this award was unanimous. Hands-down unanimous. Every single Guild member voted for you. I am one of your biggest fans. Thank you so much for all that you do. Always.
~ Julia Sanford
I met Michael early on, and that fellow had a dramatic influence on my life in the early days, a really wonderful, positive effort at that Guild charrette many years ago. His passion and selflessness there was really amazing. I kept in touch with Michael since then, but then that awful event of nature, Hurricane Katrina, occurred in 2005, and it was then that we really saw the kind of man that Michael was, through what he did, and how he impacted countless lives. It was a passion and selflessness we rarely see. I think of it often, and always will. There was no question in my mind that you personify that, Steve. Thank God for you both; that’s all I can say, because you make me better. ~Eric Moser
Steve’s a little nervous right now because he knows that I’m his number one fan, if you’ve seen the movie The Incredibles, you know that the number one fan all of a sudden change…. and it could be a bad thing. I’m in the New Urban Guild, but as you know, I can’t draw. I couldn’t even draw a stick man. Years ago, I became very frustrated with the fact that all these people I respected greatly did not come together and do as you described in your acceptance comments. I see this evening as a celebration, and the interesting this is that both you and Michael were people I could count on to get things done. You just got it done. So often, as we know, designers like to talk about a lot of things, but Michael was the epitome of not just talking about things, but taking the lead and doing them. And you have that in spades as well with all that you do to promote the advancement of the practice and the art of place-making. I’m happy that you got this award, and that this is going to be a recurring award, because it does celebrate Michael’s contribution, which was so significant to all of us.