Binkley, Burney Receive AIA Award

by bkrigbaum@solagroup.com








Washington, D.C. – The American
Institute of Architects

selected, James Binkley, FAIA, a federal agency leader and David
Burney, FAIA, a New York City municipal department commissioner to
receive the 2010 Thomas Jefferson Award for Public
Architecture.  This year’s award recipients will be
honored and receive their awards at the 2011 AIA National Convention
and Design Exposition in New Orleans.

The Thomas Jefferson Award recognizes excellence in architectural
advocacy and achievement in three categories: Private-sector architects
who have established a portfolio of accomplishment in the design of
architecturally distinguished public facilities; public-sector
architects who manage or produce quality design within their agencies;
and public officials or other individuals who by their role of advocacy
have furthered the public’s awareness and/or appreciation of design
excellence.    

The
2011 AIA Thomas Jefferson Award for Public-sector architects: James
Binkley, FAIA

In 1974 Binkley began working for the General Services Administration
and created a national design awards program that became a forerunner
to today’s Design Excellence program.  While at the
GSA, Binkley also developed a post-occupancy building survey program,
which is still in use, to examine how government buildings perform once
they are completed, measuring their energy efficiency and productivity.

Binkley’s next federal post was at the Department of Energy,
where he worked from 1978 until 1985.  At the DOE, he led the
development of a national energy standards program which became
mandatory for all federal buildings.

Binkley recently ended his tenure at the United States Postal Service,
where he was the agency’s senior architect.  With
this position, Binkley was responsible for changing the way the USPS
hired architects and procured design services for its 29,000
buildings.  Binkley developed a design process based more on
firm qualifications and design excellence, and less on the lowest
possible fee available.  The results were regionally
responsive and appropriate designs that set architects free to do their
best work and created a new generation of postal facilities celebrated
for their beauty and design savvy.  

In 1982 Binkley began teaching classes on environmental design at the
architecture school of Catholic University in Washington, D.C., and he
continues to do so today.  He has also been an involved AIA
member, serving as the chair of the Public Architects Knowledge
Community and the Committee on the Environment Knowledge Community.

“Binkley was a fervent advocate for public buildings being
models of sustainable design,” wrote Bob Berkebile, FAIA, of
BNIM in a letter of recommendation. “This motivated his peers
in other agencies to become more aggressive about sustainable design
and a higher quality of design in general.”

The
2011 AIA Thomas Jefferson Award for Public officials or other
individuals who by their role of advocacy have furthered the
public’s awareness and/or appreciation of design excellence:
David Burney, FAIA

Burney began his career in private architectural practice, but in 1990
he became the director of design and capital improvement at the New
York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), the nation’s largest
public housing agency.   While there, Burney
re-oriented the agency’s design process away from the
lowest-bidder budget constraints that had produced decades of unsightly
and poorly functioning affordable housing.  With
Burney’s leadership, NYCHA focused on producing quality
architecture.

In 2004 Burney moved over to head New York City’s Department
of Design and Construction, with a staff of 1,200 and an ongoing $5.7
billion capital investment program.  Burney raised the
standards of what people expected from public architecture, focusing on
quality, not simply economical fees and low budgets.  The
quality of the work both his agencies produced is evidenced by the many
design awards their buildings have earned.

Burney has helped publish several sets of influential design guideline
reports. The Active Design Guidelines report (completed with the help
of AIA New York), for example, advises architects on how to create
spaces that encourage physical fitness.

A recommendation letter by AIA New York Executive Director Frederic
Bell, FAIA, tells of the DDC before Burney.  “The
agency was focused on issues such as speed of construction, reacting to
political pressures driven by city council term limits, and short
funding cycles,” he wrote. “There was not much
attention given to the quality of what was being built. 
Architects were treated as contractors, not fully integrated into the
culture of public works.  David changed all that virtually
overnight.”

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