The AIA has announced the recipients of its 2010 Thomas Jefferson Awards, which honor professionals who have advanced the cause of public architecture. The winners are Curtis Fentress, the founder of Denver-based Fentress Architects; Les Shepherd, the chief architect of the Public Buildings Service at the General Services Administration (GSA); and Ken Greenberg, an urban planner and principal of Ontario’s Greenberg Consultants.
Fentress is best known by many for airport designs at Denver International and Seoul’s Incheon, for civic buildings such as the Clark County Government Center, in Las Vegas, and for museums, among them the National Museum of the Marine Corps, in Quantico, Va.
Fentress says he was drawn naturally to public work by the time he opened his firm in 1980, having worked for I.M. Pei and Kohn Pedersen Fox, and “most of the public works ends up being large-scale, with lots of involvement with lots of people,” he says. “It’s a difficult task, but you can create buildings that have a lot of energy and emotion and are important to the different communities involved. It’s become a passion of mine.”
Fentress credits the GSA for creating “a blueprint for how to make public buildings better,” a job that his fellow winner Shepherd has had a hand in since before he succeeded Edward Feiner as the agency’s chief architect in late 2006 and took charge of about $12 billion in federal design and construction projects. Shepherd has worked at the GSA for 21 years and has helped pull off projects such as the San Francisco Federal Building, by Morphosis, and courthouses in Denver and Las Vegas. Mehrdad Yazdani, who designed the Las Vegas courthouse, called Shepherd “relentless in his dedication” in a letter of recommendation.
Greenberg received the award for a practitioner who has helped raise design awareness among the public. He has designed master plans in a number of large North American cities and won praise for his ability to enroll the public in the planning process.