I am flying back from a conference in San Antonio, realizing that it has been just over a year since I received my letter announcing that I was elected to the AIA College of Fellows. I keep thinking back to the path taken to achieve that honor, and how life has changed since both the letter and my subsequent investiture.
I still get a feeling of disbelief for every piece of correspondence addressed to me with the postnomial FAIA – what did I do to deserve it? Then I consider the outreach to my new peers – the fraternity of brothers and sisters who all share one common idea – raising the bar for architecture. Over the past year, I have reached out to several of my 2017 classmates and heard their stories. Whether I wanted to ask about a specific project or question, or just curious about their work, I have discovered that for each Fellow, he or she has taken their own individualized journey. Whether questioning the paradigms of design, expanding the definition of professional practice, giving service to the profession, advocating for the public good, or creating unique areas of practice, the stories are all compelling and add to the texture of the profession.
In seeking others’ stories, I was able to share my own journey and get a sense of validation of my work of over 30 years. There is one common denominator – and a secret – that separates Fellows from the rest of the profession: a streak of contrary behavior, or “Rebel With a Cause”. Unlike James Dean, we all found at least one cause to take up; a belief to be questioned; asking not just “why?” but “why not?”
While in San Antonio, I visited one of my classmates, Debra Dockery, FAIA, who has her own small firm. We chatted about our paths as well as current work – whether in private or public practice, we share the same concerns about clients, budgets, schedules, and decision making (or lack thereof). Her design work in San Antonio, mixed with her advocacy for mentoring up and coming architects in a multi-cultural city, provided her bona fides for elevation to Fellow.
Some others include Jerry Salmen, FAIA, who focuses on universal design of facilities and started his practice before the Americans with Disabilities Act, is a forerunner of assuring accessible design is part of the architectural DNA. Duo Dickinson, FAIA, an early forerunner of the small house movement and a staunch proponent of publicizing design through his writings and podcasts, creating his own path of public advocacy. Lisa Gomperts, FAIA, whose work in advancing AIA’s reach across Indiana now includes the newest chapter of the Christopher Kelley Leadership Development Program for up and coming architect leaders. Kathy Dixon, FAIA, mentoring minority architects towards striving to achieve in the profession while being an entrepreneur in running multiple businesses, setting goals for other black women to emulate.
In the end, becoming a Fellow is merely a gatepost to the next level of professional practice – giving back to the profession while raising the next generation of architects up to a higher standard of conduct and advocacy.
Ed Gauvreau, AIA, M.SAME, is the past 2015 chair of the Public Architects Advisory Group. He is currently the Chief, Planning Branch for the Installation Support Division, Directorate of Military Programs, Headquarters, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). He currently oversees several planning programs serving the Army and other Defense agencies, including installation master planning work totaling over $200 million in 2016. Ed has served over 35 years in the public sector, starting with three different installations, Detroit District USACE, and the Food and Drug Administration. In his 22 years with USACE he has managed medical facilities program, developed programs for installation support and was the executive assistant to William Brown, Hon.AIA, when he was senior civilian leader of USACE. For eight years, he managed the Army’s career program for engineers, architects and scientists for the Chief of Engineers. He earned his B.Arch from the University of Notre Dame and an MPA from American University.