AIA Honors Local Projects, People

April 25, 2005
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GRAND RAPIDS — With all the environmentally friendly work that architects are doing across the state today, one might think that the Michigan Society of the American Institute of Architects purposely chose to hold its 2005 Honor Awards Program today because it's National Arbor Day.

Thinking that, however, would be wrong.

"What it is that week, though, is it's construction industry week statewide, and that's why we picked it over Arbor Day," said Rae Dumke, executive director of AIA-Michigan.

"We had two dates to choose from and given those two dates, we chose to tie in with that week," she added.

Whatever the designation, the program will still go on to honor and recognize some of the state's best building projects from last year and some of the state's top architects who have contributed much to their profession and to their communities.

And Grand Rapids will be well represented at the ceremony to be held at The Royal Park Hotel in Rochester. Three area public projects will receive building awards and two leading local designers will be acknowledged for the work they have done to further the field.

The projects receiving the statewide honor are:

  • The Forest Hills Public Schools Fine Arts Center, designed by Integrated Architecture and managed by Triangle Associates.

  • The ITP Rapid Central Station, designed by Progressive AE and Wendel Duchscherer Architects and Engineers and managed by The Christman Co.

  • The ByronCenterCountrysideElementary School, designed by Tower Pinkster Titus Associates and managed by Owen-Ames-Kimball Co.

In all, AIA-Michigan will present nine building awards, two for sustainable design, two for interior design, one for a low-budget, small project, one for steel design, and two 25-year awards. A three-panel jury in San Francisco chose the winners.

"We move this around the country. We look for the lead person to be a design-oriented person. In this case, I know that it was and we ask them to put together a jury," said Dumke of how the society's project awards are judged.

Judges in other AIA regions are used to help eliminate any bias in the selection process, but mostly to give state architects some recognition for their work in other sections of the country.

"They judge all the building and design awards. They do not do the individual recognition awards. That is done by a separate committee here in Michigan," said Dumke.

Carl Roehling, Harry Terpstra, Leslie Tincknell, Randy Case, Steve Vogel and Dumke comprised that committee. The panel recognized David Osler Associates of Ann Arbor as Firm of the Year and honored Daniel Pitera with the President's Award.

Then the group named Tower Pinkster Titus principal Thomas Mathison as the winner of its 2005 Gold Medal, and Robert Daverman, of Progressive AE, as its Robert Hastings FAIA Award winner.

The Gold Medal Mathison will receive today is the highest individual award the state society gives. 

Mathison has been very active in AIA, having led at least three different chapters in his career. He is a past president of the state society, and last year was elected vice president of the National AIA. Mathison was also the only state architect elected this year to the AIA National College of Fellows, the top honor the organization can give a member.

"But probably the thing that he has done the most with is developing this mentoring program where architectural students are paired up with practicing architects as sort of a way to get to know more about the whole profession," said Harry Terpstra, president of AIA-Michigan and principal of Terpstra Design Associates in Cascade Township.

Mathison began the mentoring program as a partnership between AIA-Michigan and the University of Michigan Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning five years ago. But by 2003, it included all four accredited architecture programs in the state, and had 270 mentors in six states working one-on-one with students at the University of Detroit Mercy, Lawrence Tech, AndrewsUniversity and the University of Michigan

"His program has become a model for the national organization. So it's been quite an effort. He has been working on it for five years and it's been very successful. It's a well deserved honor," said Terpstra.

The Hastings Award is presented to the architect whom the state society feels has made a significant improvement to both the profession and to a community. Daverman, Grand Valley AIA president, is being cited for developing and organizing the recent three-day charette that brought planners from three West Michigan cities together with designers from a number of areas to discuss the benefits of land-use planning.

"That was very successful. He had people from Muskegon, Holland and Grand Rapids all come together with design professionals, and not just architects, for a few days of planning on how to tie these three areas together," said Terpstra.

"A number of years of effort went into that event," he added.    

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