What Happened in Vegas 2: The Fellowship and the Strings

AIA College of Fellows 2019 Investiture AIA Conference on Architecture 2019  Blog

LAS VEGAS, NV, June 7, 2019 – With the fabulous Art Deco-infused Reynolds Hall at The Smith Center as a backdrop, and as a lovely string quartet serenaded the audience with melody, the stage was set for the Investiture of the 2019 AIA Class of Fellows.  The class, comprised of 115 members and 9 international architects, joined the prestigious College of Fellows – the highest honor that The American Institute of Architects (AIA) can bestow upon its members.  As AIA describes:

The fellowship program was developed to elevate those architects who have achieved a standard of excellence in the profession and made a significant contribution to architecture and society on a national level. Prospective candidates must have at least 10 years of AIA membership and demonstrated influence in at least one of the following areas:

  • Promoted the aesthetic, scientific, and practical efficiency of the profession;
  • Promoted the science and art of planning and building by advancing the standards of architectural education, training or practice;
  • Coordinated the building industry and the profession of architecture through leadership in the AIA or other related professional organizations; or​
  • Advanced the living standards of people through an improved environment.

As the quartet played…let’s say it was Pachelbel’s Canon (it’s always Pachelbel’s Canon)…the audience of what I estimate to be nearly 1,000 settled in to the dimly lit, striking space, designed by renowned architecture firm David M. Schwarz Architects.  Design Pup’s mission at this event?  Celebrate the five architects from Oregon (four from Portland, one from Eugene) and capture the event to share with you.


AIA College of Fellows 2019 Investiture

Pictured left to right: Unknown; Edward A. Vance, FAIA; William J. Bates, FAIA; Mary P. Cox, FAIA.

“More than an Accolade…a Call to Action”

This honor is about more than just a medal given to a few of our colleagues.  Rather, it recognizes the achievements of these individuals over the course of their careers – achievements that have influenced our community and our region.  Achievements that we can all celebrate and strive for in our own careers.

This sentiment was beautifully expressed in the opening remarks of Jury of Fellows Chair Mary P. Cox, FAIA, and echoed by both Edward A. Vance, FAIA, Chancellor of the College of Fellows, and William J. Bates, FAIA, 2019 AIA President.  Vance noted in particular that the Fellows receiving this honor are all “proven to have a passion for design…serv[ing] not just some, but all members of society.”  “This is more than an accolade…this is a call to action,” Vance noted, challenging the Fellows to continue their role as leaders in their communities for years to come.

Back here in Oregon, we’re fortunate to have numerous leaders who fit this description.  Five of them were honored at this years’ investiture – let’s meet them.



AIA College of Fellows 2019 Investiture

James G. Kalvelage, FAIA

Opsis Architecture, LLP

James (Jim) was awarded Fellowship based primarily on his career producing “distinguished bodies of work through design, urban design, or preservation.”  At the investiture ceremony, he was cited specifically for his design leadership in the civic and campus realms, his “radical innovation,” and ability to seamlessly integrate building and site.

Jim’s biography, on the Opsis Architecture website, reads in part:

[Jim’s] work has a unique relationship to the landscape and local culture with a close attention to materiality and detailing and has been distinguished with regional and national design awards. Jim is passionate about creating well loved, timeless and sustainable architecture that improves the communities in which he works.

Recognized as one of the Northwest’s leading designers, Jim has served on design awards juries, regularly participates in design critiques at local universities, and lectures at national sustainable design conferences and institutions including the University of Oregon and Portland State University.



AIA College of Fellows 2019 Investiture

Alison G. Kwok, FAIA

University of Oregon

When it comes to advancing the standards of architectural education, training, and practice, Alison literally wrote the book (several of them, actually.)  It’s wildly appropriate, then, that she be awarded Fellowship for her dedicated career in education, research, and writing, advancing the profession of architecture and sustainable design.  She was noted at the investiture for her publications, public training, and her work in education.

Alison is widely known for her co-authorship of staple books in architecture and architecture education, including Mechanical and Electrical Equipment for Buildings “MEEB” (with co-author Walter Grondzik,) The Green Studio Handbook (also co-authored with Walter Grondzik,) and Passive House Details: Solutions to High-Performance Design (co-authored with Donald Corner and Jan Fillinger.)

Kwok summarizes her work beautifully in her University of Oregon biography, writing in part:

My research areas include adaptive and mitigation strategies for climate change, thermal comfort, natural ventilation in tropical schools, building performance post-occupancy evaluation, zero net energy strategies, building energy metrics, and collaborative practices. I believe that the integration of these architectural issues yields better buildings. I enjoy studying these issues collaboratively with colleagues and students via seminars, design studios, research seminars, and funded research projects. Pedagogy and curriculum innovation is a pressing interest because of the pressing challenges of the environment and a strong belief that architects can make a difference.

It should also be noted that Kwok’s reach extends into pop culture, with her work in writing MEEB inspiring the YouTube hit “MEEB Like This,” by Seducious, shared here:

(It is true, MEEB was my bible in architecture school, and I continue to reference it to this day.  Worn, highlighted, riddled with notes and tabs, it’s one of the cornerstones of my architecture library.  Thank you, Alison.)



AIA College of Fellows 2019 Investiture

Michael R. McCulloch, FAIA

Michael McCulloch Architecture, LLC

Mike earned his Fellowship by what Mary Cox described as “enriching the civic realm through civic engagement and involvement.”  Indeed, the category in which he was granted Fellowship specifically states, “Achievements may…be of a kind that transcends the other categories for advancement to serve society or humanity in a unique and important manner.”

As an architect, urban designer, and developer, Mike certainly has earned this distinct honor through his years of work advocating for design excellence with a host of design organizations.  McCulloch served on the Portland Design Commission for 11 years, five of which he chaired.  He has also served on the Board of Directors for the Architecture Foundation of Oregon, and is a founding member of PDXplore, a “collective of five Portland area architects, landscape architects and urban designers [who]…have worked together to probe some of the more significant urban design issues facing Portland and the region.”

A snapshot of McCulloch’s wisdom and insight can be seen in this 2011 PDXplore video:




AIA College of Fellows 2019 Investiture

Jan C. Willemse, FAIA

ZGF Architects LLP

A Partner at ZGF Architects, Jan was recognized at the investiture for his role in helping to usher in a “new generation of practice” with his knowledge and skill in high performance design.  Fellowship recognizes not only Willemse’s technical expertise, but also his contributions to the profession through his research and through the wisdom and knowledge he shares in his leadership role with the firm.

Jan’s impressive biography on the ZGF website reads, in part:

With experience on a variety of large, technically complex buildings, [Jan] approaches the creation of the built environment as a synthesis of art and science, infused with a strong sense of social responsibility and environmental stewardship. He researches and implements strategies that support design and innovation, with a focus on the intelligent application of sustainable systems and materials. He is responsible for advancing ZGF’s approach to Integrated Project Delivery and utilization of BIM as a design tool. As technical designer, he applies his knowledge to a variety of complex projects to ensure that the design intent, as a reflection of clients’ goals, manifests itself in all aspects of the project.



AIA College of Fellows 2019 Investiture

William K. Wilson, FAIA

William Wilson Architects, PC

William (Bill) received this prestigious honor in large part for his work in advocating for affordable housing for the vulnerable, and leading by example.  Wilson’s portfolio includes a deep history of affordable housing projects, including projects in collaboration with Habitat for Humanity Portland/Metro East.  In fact, I had the honor of lending a small hand in the build of Wilson’s Brooklyn Pines project as a Habitat volunteer last year.

Wilson’s work in affordable housing continues with his firm’s design and construction of a sleeping pod for the 2016 Center for Public Interest Design’s Partners On Dwelling (POD) initiative, as well as leading fundraising efforts for the Yes for Affordable Homes campaign, also in 2016.

Wilson’s firm profile reads as follows:

William Wilson Architects offers design services for affordable, mixed use, special needs and market-rate multi-family housing. The firm has a long history of designing cost effective, sustainable, livable and community oriented projects. Other project types include commercial, churches and medical facilities. WWA is a Veteran Owned Small Business.



AIA College of Fellows 2019 Investiture

“Carry the baton not for yourself, but for your team”

In his closing remarks of the investiture ceremony, Chancellor Edward Vance, a former relay runner, used his past as a metaphor for the College of Fellows moving forward.  “Like a relay run, you carry the baton not for yourself, but for your team.”  Vance acknowledged that by bestowing Fellowship on this class, they have been handed the baton to carry forward and pass along to the next generation of architects through their leadership and example.

As a member of that next generation, myself, I can only hope to come close to making as significant of a contribution to the profession as these 115 extraordinary individuals in the course of their careers.  And to the five Oregon architects we celebrate with this article – thank you.  It’s an honor to share this profession and this community with you.


Portland Design Pup traveled to Las Vegas, Nevada for the AIA Conference on Architecture 2019 this past June 6th-9th to explore the influence that Portland architects and designers are having on the national architecture scene.  We attended four sessions led by Portlanders, as well as the investiture ceremony for the 2019 Class of Fellows, which included five Oregon architects.  We will be sharing images and recaps of each event in a 5 part series of articles, of which this is the second.


About the 2019 Jury of Fellows

Fellows are selected by a seven-member Jury of Fellows. This year’s jury included Chair Mary P. Cox, FAIA, Virginia Commonwealth University; Peter Bardwell, FAIA, Bardwell + Associates, LLC; Mary A. Burke, FAIA, Burke Design & Architecture PLLC; Philip Castillo, FAIA, Jahn; Mary Johnston, FAIA, Johnston Architects, LLC; Paul Mankins, FAIA, Substancearchitecture; and Nancy Rogo Trainer, FAIA, Drexel University.


About the AIA Conference on Architecture 2019

Every year the AIA Conference on Architecture travels to an iconic city for three immersive days of what’s new and now in architecture and design. Industry leaders and experienced professionals attend A’19 in search of the hottest new products and technologies.



Images courtesy Timothy Niou Photography unless noted otherwise.  Note: Our coverage of the Conference is not affiliated with or endorsed by AIA, AIA Portland, or AIA Oregon.

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