Gehry and Lin awarded Presidential Medal of Freedom by Barack Obama

NEWTOWN, CT - DECEMBER 16:  U.S. President Barack Obama waves after speaking at an interfaith vigil for the shooting victims from Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 16, 2012 at Newtown High School in Newtown, Connecticut. Twenty-six people were shot dead, including twenty children, after a gunman identified as Adam Lanza opened fire at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Lanza also reportedly had committed suicide at the scene. A 28th person, believed to be Nancy Lanza, found dead in a house in town, was also believed to have been shot by Adam Lanza. (Photo by Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 158596259 ORIG FILE ID: 158441009

President Barack Obama has awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom – and among the recipients were architects Frank Gehry and Maya Lin.

Many of the celebrities had publicly backed Obama or his policies over the years — and he acknowledged this support as he hailed their contributions to American life, arts and sciences.

“Everybody on this stage has touched me in a very powerful, personal way,” Obama said.

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Gehry was noted by the White House for his role in defining contemporary architecture, citing his well-known works the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, the Dancing House in Prague, and the Guggenheim Museum building in Bilbao, Spain.

Lin received commendation for her work in architecture, sculpture and landscape art, notably her design for Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C., as well as her recent environmental activism, as seen in her ongoing project, “What is Missing?”.

Others honoured at the White House were singers Bruce Springsteen and Diana Ross, actors Tom Hanks and Robert De Niro, philanthropists Bill and Melinda Gates, and basketball greats Michael Jordan and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

Also presented with the award included actress Cicely Tyson, TV presenter Ellen DeGeneres, actor Robert Redford, baseball announcer Vin Scully and “Saturday Night Live” producer Lorne Michaels.

Previous architects to have won the award include Mies van de Rohe (1963), Buckminster Fuller (1983) and IM Pei (1993).

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