Excellence Identified and Honored by AIA


DETROIT, May 20, 2009 – The American Institute of Architects Michigan presented plaques for architectural excellence to the owners, architects and constructors of 10 buildings at its annual Celebration of Architecture on May 15 at the Book Cadillac Hotel in Detroit. Green Building principals stand out in the mix of projects, eight of the ten were adaptive reuse or additions to existing structures. “Building re-use is the first step for sustainability,” said jury chair Curtis J. Moody, FAIA, LEED. Seventy-seven projects were entered in the competition and they were sent off to Florida for judgment.D

The Gold Medal was awarded to Stephen Whitney, FAIA; the Hastings Award to Thomas Mathison, FAIA; the president’s award to Douglas Hanna, FAIA; the young architect award to Thomas Roberts, AIA. Two honorary affiliates were named, D. James Walker and Edward Welburn. Elisabeth Knibbe, FAIA, newly elected to the AIA College of Fellows received a Balthazar Korab photo of Frank Lloyd Wright. Mary Cobb received a certificate of appreciation for her work teaching sustainability to 300 elementary students. The Legislator of the Year is Senator Alan Sanborn. The Firm of the Year is Hobbs + Black Associates.


Just one of the architect/owners sought and earned a LEED (Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design) certification, Affirmations Community Center in Ferndale for the Affirmations Gay & Lesbian Community Center designed by Luckenbach | Ziegelman Architects PLLC with offices in Birmingham and Ann Arbor provided the documentation that led to the certification. LEED certification is pending for some others.

Three architects carved new uses out of four existing facilities. McIntosh Poris Associates of Birmingham is credited with two of them. The Lofts at 400 Parent Avenue in Royal Oak began life as a lumber warehouse and now is a fine example of urban loft living. The owner is Proton Capital, LLC and was built by the Ronnisch Construction Group. According to the jury, “This project is a classic case of making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.” The other McIntosh Poris winner is the new YMCA Renaissance Center in Detroit, owned by Riverfront Holdings, Inc. and developed by Hines Interests, LP.  It was constructed by the Barton Malow Company overlooking the Detroit River.

Harley Ellis Devereaux with offices in Southfield, Chicago, and California breathed new life into their low budget lobby expansion for Detroit Diesel / Sterling and Western Star in Redford. The client is Daimler AG and it was built by the Barton Malow Company. What was for years a nondescript service zone has been transformed into a technological showplace during the day and a glowing beacon at night. When an architectural firm has a chance to design a new office for itself, creative juices start pumping. inFORM studio of Northville turned a portion of an early 20th century Ford Valve warehouse into “layers of texture, transparency and translucency conducive to contemporary architectural practice,” according to the jury. Sterling Construction installed translucent acrylic, steel and stained MDF to generate the presence of entry.

One of the three completely new buildings was also done by inFORM studio. The Ann Arbor District Traverwood Library is a benchmark project for the consideration of the suburban library and an integrated approach to sustainability.

The Compuware World Headquarters in Detroit, by Rossetti of Southfield, houses 3,000 employees in a new one million square foot facility at the heart of Detroit Central Business district. The jury chose it for the Steel Award because of the use of architectural cross-bracing and steel detailing and its nod to Detroit’s past, present and future relationship to the steel industry. Walbridge Aldinger built it and it has become an anchor to the redevelopment of Campus Martius.

The last built- from- the- ground- up structure is the Allegretti Residence in Sawyer. It was built in 1975 on the principals of sustainable design long before the term was fashionable. After returning from the Peace Corp, the Allegrettis designed a sustainable four-bedroom twenty-five hundred square foot solar home. Set into a dune facing southeasterly the home is a super-insulated passive solar collector with an active solar hot water system. The home is now owned by the Fred and Kay Eck Family. It earned the Twenty-five Year Award from the Recognitions Committee as a building that has “withstood the test of time.”

Three design awards go to buildings with major additions. This technique expands the life of the original structure thus conserving material that might have ended in a landfill. Harley Ellis Devereaux earns a second award as architect of record for The Center for Academic Research Excellence – Crawley Building at The University of Cincinnati in Ohio. STUDIOS Architecture is listed as the design architect. It is a 246,000 square foot multi-story addition to a 1970s concrete high-rise. It creates a one-building campus for the Schools of Medicine, Pharmacy and Nursing. A LEED certification is pending.

Constantine George Pappas AIA Architecture/Planning of Troy added a new 375 seat sanctuary addition with associated lower-level community spaces to the First Congregational Church United Church of Christ in Rochester. The jury felt that the architect “captured the spirit of ecclesiastical architecture.” This is another in a series of award-winning churches of all denominations produced by the Pappas firm in recent years. This one was built by Frank Rewold and Sons, Inc.

The SHW Group of Berkley created a sustainable University Center to serve as a gateway for students for Lansing Community College by connecting to the Carnegie Library creating a marriage of architectural styles. Granger Construction of Lansing is the Contractor.


Gold Medal: Stephen Q. Whitney, FAIA
The Gold Medal is the highest honor that can be given to an AIA Michigan architect. It is reserved for an architect who is distinguished in his career, works to advance the professional standing of all architects and lives up to the ethical standards of the American Institute of Architects.

Mr. Whitney has been extensively involved with AIA on local, regional and national levels, most notably serving as AIA Michigan president in 1992. It is his long-standing commitment to the organization and the architectural profession that played a major role in the firm receiving a number of noteworthy distinctions from the state and national levels of AIA. His contributions to the field of architecture has resulted in his appointment to the AIA’s prestigious College of Fellows in 1996 and his receipt in 1998 of the Gold Medal award from AIA’s Detroit Chapter.

As the present Chairman and CEO of Albert Kahn Associates, Mr. Whitney is responsible for ensuring that all of the firm’s client issues are effectively addressed and that over all project team performance meets or exceeds client expectations.

Robert F. Hastings Award: Thomas R. Mathison, AIA
Mathison is an active member of AIA and has served as the President of two chapters: AIA Florida Central Chapter and the AIA Grand Valley Chapter in west Michigan. He has also served in many capacities for AIA Michigan and was President in 1996. He represented Michigan on the AIA National Board of Directors.  In 2004 he was elected as National Vice President for AIA. He is a member of the AIA College of Fellows, and received the Gold Medal from AIA Michigan.

As an outgrowth of his interest in education, mentoring, and the AIA, Tom founded the AIA Michigan Mentoring Network in 1999, which brings Michigan’s practicing architects together with architecture students at the state’s four accredited colleges of architecture at a critical time in their educational careers.

Tom is a Principal of Tower Pinkster, a 75-member A/E firm in Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids. His office is in Grand Rapids and his personal design background is in the area of K-12 and higher educational facilities and learning environments.

Robert Hastings, FAIA was a prominent Detroit architect who rose through the local, state and national components of The American Institute of Architects (AIA) and became national president in 1970. AIA Michigan created an award in 1978 in his honor. The Hastings Award is given in recognition of distinguished and significant service to the profession.

President’s Award: Douglas C. Hanna, AIA
University of Michigan Architect Douglas Hanna, AIA will receive the President’s Award. Hanna has been University Architect for U of M in Ann Arbor since 1993. He is responsible for providing oversight for campus-related architectural matters and for the planning and design of major building projects. Under his watch, dozens of major projects have been completed or are in progress valued at more than $4 billion.

The President’s Award was created in 1992 by The American Institute of Architects Michigan to honor architects who practice in the education or corporate field who have made exceptional contributions to the profession and their community through academia, business or government.

Young Architect Award: Thomas M. Roberts, AIA
Thomas M. Roberts, AIA is an advocate for urban development and built his own home in a redeveloping area of downtown Wyandotte. The Young Architect Award recognizes an architect for exceptional contributions to the profession who is less than 40 years of age.

Roberts has invested in his hometown community in many other ways and is an advisor to the Planning Commission and City Council. He is known for his inventive designs for modern structures as well as seamless additions to historic buildings.

After a sojourn on the east coast following graduation (1994) from the University of Detroit Mercy, Roberts came back to Detroit and worked with some of the city’s leading architects; Luckenbach | Ziegelman and McIntosh Poris Associates in Birmingham; Kessler | Francis | Cardoza Architects, SmithGroup of Detroit and as a designer with GunnLevine Architects of Detroit.  He is an adjunct professor of design at the School of Architecture at the University of Detroit fabricator.

As an active member of the Michigan Historic Preservation Network, a preservation advocacy group headquartered in Lansing, he works to have a positive influence on the built environment and historic resources.

Honorary Affiliate Members: D. James Walker and Edward T. Welburn
Honorary Affiliate Membership is one of the highest honors that AIA Michigan can bestow upon a person who is not an architect but who has made important contributions to the profession of architecture.

D. James Walker, PA is CEO of Great Lakes Fabricators and Erectors Association (GLFEA), a trade group representing the steel construction industry. He has been in association management for 21 years, 16 with GLFEA.

In 1997, AIA Michigan agreed to partner with GLFEA to include the Steel Award as part of its honors program. The award highlights a creative use of steel in the design of a building. Their interest in architecture didn’t end there but extends to architect training by sponsoring the Architect’s Lecture Series at the University of Detroit Mercy School of Architecture.

Although Walker’s primary responsibilities lay in negotiating and administering collective bargain agreements, he is an ordained elder in the Presbyterian Church and sits on several national and regional boards.

He earned his first degree at Michigan State University (BA 1976) and his juris doctorate degree from the Detroit College of Law in 1986. He lives in Beverly Hills.

Edward T. Welburn is vice president, global design for General Motors. When he was appointed in 2005, he became only the sixth design leader in GM 75 year history. Welburn is also the first African American to lead a major automotive design house.

Starting out as a kid from Philadelphia who loved to draw cars, Mr. Welburn attended Howard University and interned at GM Design under Bill Mitchell, another GM legend. After joining GM full-time in 1972, he designed everything from auto show concepts to family cars and trucks to world speed record vehicles.

Under his direction, GM earned the coveted 2007 Car and Truck of the Year awards for the Saturn Aura and Chevrolet Silverado, the 2008 Car of the Year award for the Chevrolet Malibu, the 2008 Motor Trend Car of the Year for Cadillac CTS, and the 2008 Eyes on Design awards for both the CTS-V and CTS Coupe Concept.  Also under Welburn’s leadership, GM designed and developed the revolutionary Chevy Volt, the world’s first extended-range electric vehicle.

AIA College of Fellows: Elisabeth Knibbe, FAIA
Elisabeth Knibbe, FAIA is now a member of the national AIA College of Fellows. She was inducted in a moving ceremony on May 1 at the Grace Cathedral during the national convention in San Francisco. Out of a total AIA membership of nearly 86,000, there are fewer than 2,765 distinguished with the honor of fellowship.

“For 30 years, Elisabeth Knibbe has pioneered the use of historic preservation as an effective economic development tool to save endangered landmarks, serve low-income communities and recycle valuable architectural resources,” noted her citation.

She joined QUINNEVANS | ARCHITECTS’ Ann Arbor office as Principal in 2004. Throughout her career, Ms. Knibbe has provided community leadership through participation on community-based boards and commissions. She currently sits on the Michigan Board of Architects and Michigan Historic Review Board.

Ms. Knibbe earned a Master of Architecture Degree and Master of Urban Planning degree in 1978 from the University of Michigan.

Certificate of Appreciation: Mary Cobb
Mary Cobb received a Certificate of Appreciation for the important work that she is doing to spread the word about sustainability. Cobb, with the help of 300 elementary school students from Eastover Elementary School in Bloomfield Hills and staff from Lawrence Technological University, constructed a “Green Box City” out of leftover cardboard boxes, toilet paper rolls and used water bottles. The 1,500 square foot city was built and displayed at the school.  She drafted Glen LeRoy, FAIA Dean of the School of Architecture, to assist the students.

Legislator of the Year: Senator Alan Sanborn
Senator Alan Sanborn is a lifelong resident of Macomb County, born and raised in the city of Mount Clemens. After college he served the county as a juvenile probation officer for 20 years before first being elected to public office. In 2002, he was first elected to his current position representing the 11th Senate District.

In 2003, and again in 2007, Senator Sanborn was elected, by his colleagues, to serve in a presiding role in the Senate as the Assistant President Pro Tempore. He is chair of the Committee on Economic Development and Regulatory Reform and Vice Chair of the Banking and Financial Institutions Committee. His other committee assignments are the Health Policy Committee and the Judiciary Committee.

In addition to his legislative responsibilities, Senator Sanborn is active in his church, local Kiwanis club and such organizations as the Fraternal Order of Police.

The Senator received his Bachelor of Science degree from Michigan State University, where he majored in Social Science and minored in Political Science. He has three children and lives with his wife, Lori, in Richmond Township.

The selection of the Legislator of the Year is based upon several criteria. They include, but are not limited to, dedicated public service, devotion to enhancing the public health and safety and understanding of the contribution that design professionals make toward a better quality of life.

Firm of the Year: Hobbs and Black Associates
Hobbs+Black was formed in 1965 when William S. Hobbs realized his high school dream and established his own architecture firm. The firm was soon ready to grow and in 1967, Mr. Hobbs teamed up with designer, Richard Black. The two men shared a common business philosophy that every client is important and should always be treated and approached as such. In 1968 the firm added “+ Black” to its name and a terrific business partnership and great friendship started.

By 1986, Hobbs+Black’s business had grown so much that the original offices on Washington Street were no longer adequate. After a search, they discovered and renovated the “old stone church” in downtown Ann Arbor that remains the firm’s corporate headquarters and its signature project. In the first year in the new home, the firm’s business tripled. In addition to Ann Arbor, the firm now has offices in Lansing and Phoenix.

In 2004, Richard Block passed away. While the firm’s employees and clients continue to mourn his passing, the business continues to thrive under the leadership of Mr. Hobbs as well as the next generation of management.

The award recognizes an organization of architects who have consistently produced distinguished architecture for at least 10 years. The firm shall have great depth, breadth, be widely known for quality and its work shall be a product of a collaborative environment.

The American Institute of Architects Michigan, headquartered in the historic Beaubien House across from the Renaissance Center in downtown Detroit, established its awards program to bring to public attention the value and importance of architectural excellence and to recognize those whose notable achievements encourage all to make excellence in architecture the standard.