Mario Cortes, assistant professor of architecture in Virginia Tech’s College of Architecture and Urban Studies and a Blacksburg resident, has been named the winner of the Western European Architecture Foundation’s 14th annual Gabriel Prize, which includes a $17,500 grant for the study of classical architecture and landscape in France.

Cortes will embark on a three-month itinerary of his own devising from May 15 through August 15. He will collaborate with a Parisian architect while sketching, measuring, and producing large renderings of some of the masterpieces of France.

“My area of focus is researching and uncovering the ideal proportions used in the design and construction of French neo-classical churches and civic buildings,” said Cortes. “The research will also include how this ideal proportional extends to and is used in the urban plazas that each of these buildings possess.”

The selection process for the Gabriel Prize includes three phases, with candidates registering their interest through the submission of pertinent illustrations of personal work and an outline of the studies. A first jury selects three candidates. Those candidates are then invited to meet a second jury, which selects the final winner and a runner up. The jurors, chosen for their experience as teachers, as artists, and for their knowledge of study abroad, are architects, landscape architects, painters, professors, and past Gabriel Prize laureates. The goal is to maintain a variety of viewpoints and experiences among the jurors.

The Gabriel Prize program was founded and is endowed by the late George Parker, Jr., an American who believed passionately in the humanizing power of classical architecture. Cortes received his bachelor’s degree from Washington University in St. Louis and his master’s degree from Virginia Tech. A resident of Blacksburg, Cortes has been at Virginia Tech since 1991.

The College of Architecture and Urban Studies is one of the largest of its type in the nation. The college is composed of two schools and the departments of landscape architecture, building construction, and art and art history. The School of Architecture + Design includes programs in architecture, industrial design and interior design. The School of Public and International Affairs includes programs in urban affairs and planning, public administration and policy, and government and international affairs. The college enrolls more than 2,000 students offering 22 degrees programs taught by 160 faculty members.

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