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Walter Hood Wins the Gish Prize

Less than two weeks after being announced as the winner of a MacArthur fellowship, the landscape designer and public artist Walter Hood is adding another award to his shelf: the Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize.

The Gish Prize Trust has announced that Mr. Hood has been selected as the recipient of the 26th edition of the honor, which currently carries a cash award of about $250,000. The prize is given each year to a “highly accomplished artist from any discipline who has pushed the boundaries of an art form, contributed to social change and paved the way for the next generation.”

“I tend to call my practice a cultural practice,” Mr. Hood said in a phone interview on Monday. “I want the work to speak to the broadest public. It’s really fantastic to be recognized, and looking at the esteemed winners — to be part of that collection is pretty mind blowing.”

Previous winners of the Gish Prize include Meredith Monk, Suzan-Lori Parks, Maya Lin and Frank Gehry, who won the inaugural award. The prize was established in 1994 through the will of the actress Lillian Gish.

Mr. Hood is the founder and creative director of Hood Design Studio in Oakland, Calif. His work, which blends urbanism, public art and landscape architecture, has focused on reinvigorating and reimagining public spaces, often neglected ones. He has reshaped terrains around the country, including many in the Bay Area, where his work can be seen in spaces like Lafayette Square Park in Oakland and landscapes surrounding the de Young Museum in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. Mr. Hood is also a professor at the College of Environmental Design at the University of California, Berkeley.

He was selected for the Gish Prize from a group of more than 70 finalists, who came from disciplines including visual and performing arts, literature and arts administration.

Mr. Hood’s upcoming work includes the landscape of the planned International African American Museum in Charleston, S.C., and a redesign of outdoor gardens and terraces at the Oakland Museum of California. He recently opened a sculptural installation about the legacy of Woodrow Wilson outside Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.

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