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COD Receptions and Dinners

COD Celebrates 2013 AIA Award Recipients At Third Annual Reception and Dinner

By Ann Thompson, MLS

Photos by Oscar Einzig

How appropriate that as the Committee on Design celebrates their 50th anniversary this year, they hosted the AIA’s 2013 top award winners in a building rich in history itself: the McNichols Civic Center Building, a recently-restored Carnegie Library in Denver’s Civic Center Park. The Denver Public Library, designed by Burnham Hoyt in 1955 with a Michael Graves addition in 1990, and the Denver Art Museum, designed by Gio Ponti (1971) and Daniel Libeskind (2006), are close neighbors.

The Committee on Design (COD) was founded to promote design excellence among members of the AIA, the broader design community, and the public at large, both nationally and internationally. One of the most important roles it plays in their mission is nominating candidates for the AIA’s most prestigious Awards: the Gold Medal; Architecture Firm Award; Twenty-five Year Award; Honorary Fellowship, and Institute Honor Awards for Collaborative and Professional Achievement.

Hosting a reception and dinner for the winners seemed a natural thing to do. The idea was hatched and implemented three years ago by past COD Chair Anne Schopf, FAIA, design director at Mahlum in Seattle. She pointed out, “In the past there was never a single event where all of the award winners could gather at one time and place, and spend time together with each other and AIA members. We thought it was far past time that we ought to have created one, and we did.”

The June 20th, 2013 event drew a lively crowd from those attending the AIA’s national convention. Sparkling jazz provided by Peneplain Quartet set the mood for scintillating conversation. Current COD Chair, Marlene Imirzian, FAIA took the opportunity between Catering By Design’s cocktails, hors d’oeuvres and dinner to introduce many of the honorees to hearty applause. In attendance were Gold Medal winner Thom Mayne, FAIA who was joined by his colleagues Ung-Joo Scott Lee, Eui-Sung Yi, Brandon Welling, Nicole Meyer and Arne Emerson. The Architecture Firm Award winners, Tod Williams and Billie Tsien, were celebrated along with their new partner Paul Schulhof.

Sheryl Kolasinski-Menil and Josef Helfenstein representing the Menil Collection, winner of the Twenty-five Year Award (Renzo Piano Building Workshop) and Ladislav Labus, Hon. FAIA, from the Czech Republic, who was invested into the College of Fellows this year, enjoyed COD’s warm hospitality.​

Barbara Cain from the Board of the Palm Springs Modern Committee- a local volunteer nonprofit movement dedicated to maintaining the heritage of modern architecture and historic neighborhoods in Palm Springs and the Coachella Valley area; Lynn Osmond, President & CEO of the Chicago Architecture Foundation (CAF) and Jennifer Masengarb, Education Specialist (CAF) representing, a free website connecting teens, teachers, and architects across the country for real-world 21st-century project-based learning; and Rebecca Miller, Executive Director of the DC Preservation League which has developed and presented programs focusing on architecture, adaptive use of historic buildings, urban planning, and the nexus between historic preservation and economic development -–all winners of the Institute Honor Award for Collaborative and Professional Achievement, were especially delighted by the COD celebration event.

2014 COD Chair Steve Alspaugh, AIA presented his upcoming year’s intriguing theme—Big Cities, Big Ideas– and destinations for the Spring and Fall Conferences –New York City (May 15-18) and London (September 7-13).  A highlight of the evening’s entertainment was the homemade COD History video put together by Ronnette Riley, FAIA (COD Chair, 2005) and Windom Kimsey, FAIA (COD Chair, 2004). Guests were mesmerized by the breadth and variety of destinations while the movie’s soundtrack of pop chart hits kept them smiling and tapping their toes. More than one guest was overheard to say that it was inspiring and asked how they could register for future COD conferences.

The COD Awards celebration could not take place without the generous sponsorship provided by EFCO, a Pella Company, and a number of past national Firm Award winners including: Davis Brody Bond; Jahn; Beyer Blinder Belle, Architects & Planners; BNIM; Centerbrook Architects and Planners; Lake-Flato; the Miller Hull Partnership; Olson Kundig Architects; and ZGF. A special thanks to Ron Pollard Photography.

Next year’s awards reception venue in Chicago won’t be revealed til the spring but make a note to attend; it’s certain to be memorable.

COD Fetes 2012 Awards Recipients At Second Annual Reception and Dinner


By Charles Linn, FAIA

Photos by Jeff Wolfram

So perfect was the AIA Committee On Design’s second annual reception and dinner for the recipients of the Institute’s top award winners that it would be easy to believe that Benjamin Henry Latrobe himself was smiling down upon on the event. The honorees were feted under crystal clear, starry skies on May 18th, 2012 in the courtyard behind the Decatur House in Washington, D.C., which Latrobe designed in 1817.

The COD was founded for the purpose of promoting design excellence within the Institute’s own membership; the broader design community, and the public at large. One of the most important roles it plays toward that end is recommending to the juries which of a plethora of worthy candidates should receive the Institute’s five most prestigious awards: the AIA Gold Medal; National Firm Award; recipients of Honorary Fellowship; the Collaborative Achievement Award winners, and the Twenty-five Year Award.

On this glorious evening Anne Schopf, FAIA, COD’s immediate past chair, briefly interrupted the roots-inspired music of the Sligo Creek Stompers to introduce many of the 2012 honorees. On hand were AIA Gold Medal winter Steven Holl, FAIA, who was joined by his senior partner, Chris McVoy. Members of the 2012 National Firm Award winner VJAA of Minneapolis, Minn., who enjoyed the event included Vincent James, FAIA; Nathan Knutson, AIA; Jennifer Yoos, AIA, and Paul Yaggie, AIA.

Paul Lubowicki, formerly of Frank O. Gehry & Associates represented the firm in the celebration of the Twenty-Five Year Award, which was given this year to Mr. Gehry’s own quirky Santa Monica residence.

Several Honorary Fellows, who were invested into the College of Fellows the day before, enjoyed the AIA’s own brand of American hospitality including Solano Benìtez, of Gabinete de Arquitectura from Asuncion, Paraguay; Richard Francis-Jones of Francis-Jones Morehen Thorp, from Syndey, Australia; Pierre-Antoine Gatier, Hon. FAIA who heads up his own firm in Paris, and Anya van der Merwe, Hon. FAIA, of Van Der Merwe Miszewski Architects, Cape Town, South Africa.

The Institute Honor Awards for Collaborative Achievement went to two different non-profit organizations. Abby Suckle, FAIA, Anne Lewison, AIA and Susan Chin, FAIA, took bows for cultureNOW, a nonprofit organization mapping history, art, and architecture in the public realm to create a “museum without walls.” A second Collaborative Achievement Award was given to the Rice Design Alliance, a non-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of architecture, urban design, and the built environment in the Houston region. It was represented by its president-elect, Lonnie Hoogeboom, AIA.

Of course, the reception and dinner was made possible through the largess of a number of generous donors including EFCO, a Pella Company, and Delta Light. A number of past National Firm Award winners also helped sponsor the event, including Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects; Beyer Blinder Belle Architects & Planners; BNIM; Ennead Architects; Leers Weinzapfel Associates, Bohlin Cywinski Jackson; Centerbrook Architects and Planners; Olson Kundig Architects, and the Miller Hull Partnership.

Jeff Wolfram of Wolfram’s Architectural Photography, graciously served as the evening’s photographer. Schopf took a moment to thank the White House Historical Association, which made Decatur House available. She concluded the evening saying, “We hope to see you next year in Denver, where we can only hope to find a venue as wonderful as this one. And, we’d better start looking now!”


Design Excellence in 2011: COD Reception and Dinner

AIA Award Recipients Cheered At First-Ever COD Dinner and Reception

By Charles Linn

Photos by John R Portman

Accompanied by the jaunty strains of the New Orleans Jazz Vipers, on May 12 the AIA’s Committee on Design and 120 of its closest friends honored the institute’s top award winners for 2011. The first-of-its-kind celebration was held at Calcasieu, a restaurant in New Orleans’ industrial and arts district as a part of the 2011 AIA Convention. Pella Corporation and Centerbrook Architects and Planners sponsored the event.

Anne Schopf, FAIA, design director of Mahlum in Seattle, chairs the COD. She said, “In the past there was never a single event where all of the award winners could gather at one time and place, and spend time together with each other and AIA members. We thought it was far past time that we ought to have created one, and we did.”

The COD submits recommendations to the AIA’s Board of Directors for five of the Institute’s most prestigious awards including, the Gold Medal; National Firm Award; AIA Honorary Fellows; the Collaborative Achievement Award winners, and the Twenty-five Year Award, which in 2011 went to Pei Cobb Freed & Partners for the John Hancock Tower. 

“We’re extremely honored to have so many of the award recipients with us tonight,” Schopf told the crowd, surrounded by a Who’s Who of architecture and design luminaries. Joining her were AIA Gold Medalist Fumihiko Maki, and from the AIA’s National From of the Year BNIM, partners Robert Berkebile, FAIA, Tom Nelson, FAIA, David Immenshuh, Rod Kruse, FAIA, Steve McDowell, FAIA, Laura Lesniewski, AIA, and almost a dozen BNIM staff.

Also at Schopf’s side were Honorary Fellows from across the globe including Kengo Kuma, Tokyo; Carme Pinós, Barcelona; Marcio Kogan and Angelo Bucci, both of Sao Paolo; Kristin Jarmund, Oslo, and Louise Cox of Sydney, Australia. 

Last but not least, collaborative achievement award winners David Burney, who wrote New York City’s Active Design Guidelines; Anne Frederiksen, Kent Pedersen, Hans Lindberg who represented Louis Poulsen Lighting; Nate Eudaly of the Dallas Architecture Forum, and landscape architect Peter Lindsay Schaudt of Hoerr Schaudt Landscape Architects helped fill out what was the undoubtedly the happiest corner of the room. 

Mr. Maki probably summed up the sentiments of all the honorees when he said, “Many honors have been bestowed upon me. But this is among the greatest. It is like winning the Olympics.” 

“We are confident that this will become an annual Committee on Design event,” said Schopf, “and have already begun to plan what we’ll do in Washington D.C., next year. We’re thinking we have to one-up the inaugural event, but not sure how to top the Jazz Vipers’ rendition of “You Leave Me Breathless.”