Greg Kahn

It was reported yesterday, and confirmed in an email today, that after 11 years, architect of the capitol (AOC) Stephen Ayers, FAIA, will step down from his role as the 11th head of that federal agency later this month. (The agency and title share the same name.) The AIA has already released a statement about his retirement and commending the architect for his contributions.

“Throughout his tenure as AOC, Stephen Ayers has successfully ensured the highest standards of design, construction and preservation for some of the most important buildings in American history while also overcoming significant challenges," said AIA CEO Robert Ivy, FAIA, in a release. "He has proven how architects can lead and serves as a symbol of the impact architects have on public projects. His work over the course of his 20 years in public service is truly a blueprint for better."

A B.Arch. graduate of the University of Maryland, and later of the University of Southern California with an M.S. in systems management, Ayers started his AOC career in 1997 as an assistant superintendent for Senate Office Buildings, later serving as the deputy superintendent for Senate Office Buildings, the superintendent of Library Buildings and Grounds, the acting deputy architect/chief operating officer and as the deputy architect/chief operating officer. In February 2007, Ayers was named the acting AOC, serving under President George W. Bush. In 2010, he was unanimously confirmed as the AOC under President Barack Obama.

With an average annual budget of almost $600 million, Ayers maintained a staff of more than 2,000 people responsible for the preservation and maintenance of the Capitol, the House and Senate Office buildings, the Library of Congress, the Supreme Court, and the Thurgood Marshall Federal Judiciary Building, among other historical facilities in and around the District of Columbia. During his tenure as AOC, Ayers oversaw the completion of the Capitol Visitor Center, which was behind schedule and over budget when he took office; the restoration of the U.S. Capitol Dome and Rotunda, which required repairing more than 1,000 cracks; and the repair of the Washington Monument, which was damaged during the 2011 earthquake. As of this summer, Ayers and his team had begun a comprehensive restoration of the Cannon House Office Building.

This year, he was awarded the AIA 2018 Thomas Jefferson Award for Public Architecture. At the time, Ayers told ARCHITECT, "I get to be a public servant and an architect in the greatest buildings in the world, and they pay me? Are you kidding? It’s an awesome job, and it’s been a dream come true.”

It is unclear who will step in to lead the AOC in Ayers' absence. A permanent AOC appointment requires presidential nomination and confirmation by the Senate. According to the AIA, the Institute will convene a task force to determine candidates to recommend to a congressional commission charged with filling the position.

Editor's Note: This story has been updated since its original publication.