Every so often, you run into an architect who uses the letters FAIA after his name. This means he's a "fellow" in the American Institute of Architects.
Who are these AIA fellows? How to they get to be one?
Is the honor a recognition of significant contributions to the field, or a pat on the back from an organization known for its old-boy networking?
San Diego has about a dozen AIA fellows among the local chapter's nearly 700 state-licensed members. They are Richard Bundy, Ward Deems, Homer Delawie, Harry Hallenbeck, Frank Hope Jr., William Lewis, Robert Mosher, Dale Naegle, Harold Sadler, Thomas Tucker, William Watson and Stan Livingston.
While many of these architects have made significant design contributions over long careers, others are better-known for their work in AIA activities and political offices.
How to Become a Fellow
Achievement in design isn't the only way to become a fellow. Several other categories include innovative construction methods, writing books or articles, educational work, service to the profession, public service, historic preservation, research, urban design, achievement in government and industry, and skill in running a practice.
Just last month, for example, architect Ed Huxley was made a fellow, primarily because he founded the AIA's Monterey Design Conference in 1979. Unfortunately, Huxley, who moved to Canada not long ago after a lengthy career in San Diego, died in a plane crash on his way to the induction ceremony in St. Louis.
The Monterey Design Conference has become an annual highlight on many architects' calendars, one of the few West Coast events where important architectural issues are addressed in thoughtful and innovative ways.
Potential fellows are nominated by a local AIA committee, and selected by a seven-member national jury, all AIA fellows.
For 1989, Huxley was the only new fellow from San Diego among 44 named throughout the United States. Architect Paul Buss, a founder of the San Diego firm BSHA, was also up for the honor. Buss, a past AIA president, now a developer with Oliver McMillan in San Diego, is known at least as well for his politics as his designs. He's had a prominent role in Mayor Maureen O'Connor's Centre City planning committee. By some accounts, he lobbied hard for his own nomination before he finally received it.
Next year's nominees have just been notified by the local AIA chapter. They are Rob Quigley, an award-winning designer who's also had a hand in many community planning efforts; Doug Austin, a partner in Austin Hansen Fehlman Group, known for his design work, leadership role in the AIA (he is a past president) and the success of the firm he helped start; and Michael Wilkes, a partner in Delawie Bretton and Wilkes, known both for his design work and for his AIA leadership role--he too is a past president.
San Diego Union architecture critic Kay Kaiser has just finished writing a book on "The Architecture of Gunnar Birkerts," due for fall release.