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      James Binkley, FAIA, and David Burney, FAIA, Selected to Receive the 2011 American Institute of Architects Thomas Jefferson Award for Public Architecture

      Contact: Matt Tinder

      For immediate release:
      Washington, D.C. – January 21, 2011 –
      The American Institute of Architects (AIA) has 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.

      You can get more information on the recipients here:

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

      In 1974 Binkley began working for the General Services Administration (GSA) 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 (DOE), 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 (USPS), 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 (DDC), 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.”

      About The American Institute of Architects
      For over 150 years, members of the American Institute of Architects have worked with each other and their communities to create more valuable, healthy, secure, and sustainable buildings and cityscapes. Members adhere to a code of ethics and professional conduct to ensure the highest standards in professional practice. Embracing their responsibility to serve society, AIA members engage civic and government leaders and the public in helping find needed solutions to pressing issues facing our communities, institutions, nation and world. Visit Twitter:



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