“To leak confidential information to the media, please press 4”

“To leak confidential information to the media, please press 4,” read one hotline prompt imagined during Canadian Center for Architecture’s How to: reward and punish workshop, which shared its results during a Zoom webinar on Saturday morning. Led by Lev Bratishenko with George Kafka, this gathering worked virtually to realize a soft tactical guide to architectural awards systems, which are either private, elite transactions, or reduced to monetized trinkets, driven by a profit motive and the neoliberal need for distinguishing features in the global marketplace. An award is a gimmick, Sianne Ngai might say.

“The more they proliferate the more meaningless they seem,” was the consensus from the workshop. They analyzed the timeline of Architizer’s prizes (so many categories) and the organizational charts of award-granting entities before presenting new tools—notably the aforementioned hotline for awards participants and a set of Joker cards. The gathering felt intimate—even smaller than the group of people who care about architectural awards are those nerdy enough to w…

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