Three Individuals Selected to Receive the 2014 American Institute of Architects Thomas Jefferson Award for Public Architecture
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Three Individuals Selected to Receive the 2014 American Institute of Architects Thomas Jefferson Award for Public Architecture

Washington, D.C. – February 21, 2014 – The American Institute of Architects (AIA) has selected, James L. Abell, FAIA, Carole J. Olshavsky, FAIA, and Robert G. Shibley, FAIA, to receive the 2014 Thomas Jefferson Award for Public Architecture. This year’s award recipients will be honored and receive their awards at the 2014 AIA National Convention and Design Exposition in Chicago.

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 (category 1); public-sector architects who manage or produce quality design within their agencies (category 2); and public officials or other individuals who by their role of advocacy have furthered the public's awareness and/or appreciation of design excellence (category 3).

James L. Abell, FAIA
Category One

With a diverse career spanning over 40-years, Abell has had a deep commitment to public architecture. His public buildings show a great sense of connectivity to the surrounding urban fabric through the generous use of residentially scaled windows, solid masonry with texture and color, and traditional roof forms that are playful and artfully arranged. His firm, Abell Architects, has been recognized for their public buildings and the use of outdoor courtyards, landscaped malls, and campus quadrangles that extend and celebrate the humanity of public architecture. More than a talented architect and public advocate for responsive design, Abell has been described as a “visionary citizen of democracy,” bringing together citizens from all walks of life to dream, collaborate, plan, and take action to improve our nation’s communities.

Carole J. Olshavsky, FAIA
Category Two

Olshavsky served as Ohio’s State Architect (1985–88), deputy director of the Ohio Division of Public Works (1988–91), and senior executive of capital improvements for Columbus City Schools (2003–present).Her remarkable career in public architecture has been defined by her ability to seamlessly blend public service with AIA policy to enhance the quality of design. Olshavsky has blazed a trail of firsts in Ohio, including being the only woman to serve as State Architect and to receive the AIA Ohio Gold Medal. Her service to the AIA at the local, state, and national levels spans more than 30 years. Olshavsky’s AIA leadership positions include president of the Architects Society of Ohio; chair, AIA Committee on Public Architecture; AIA regional director and national vice president; and chancellor of the AIA College of Fellows.

Robert G. Shibley, FAIA
Category Three

Shibley’s leadership in design advocacy is evident through his more than 40 years of public service through teaching, research and practice. He joined the University at Buffalo’s School of Architecture and Planning in 1982 and now serves as dean. Partnering with the community, faculty, staff and students, he has produced internationally award-winning plans for Buffalo, spurring new regional investment and elevating public expectations for design and planning. He led UB’s ambitious and fully collaborative comprehensive plan development that sets new standards for campus architecture. Shibley has also generated widely published scholarship on urban design and place-making, while his administrative and design management service to the region, New York State and the federal government has advanced public architecture. His service to the U.S. Army Chief of Engineers earned a Department of Defense Meritorious Service Award that called his work the “single greatest advance in design guidance in the history of the Corps.”

The jury for the 2014 Thomas Jefferson Award includes: William Bates, AIA (Chair), Eat’n Park Hospitality Group; Amanda Palasik, Assoc. AIA, GWWO, Inc.; Rona Rothenberg, FAIA, Administrative Office of the Courts Alameda, California; Benjamin Vargas, FAIA, Bartizan Group Architects & Project Managers and Jennifer Workman, AIA, Good Fulton & Farrell, inc.

About The American Institute of Architects

Founded in 1857, members of the American Institute of Architects consistently work to create more valuable, healthy, secure, and sustainable buildings, neighborhoods, and communities. Through nearly 300 state and local chapters, the AIA advocates for public policies that promote economic vitality and public well being.  Members adhere to a code of ethics and conduct to ensure the highest professional standards. The AIA provides members with tools and resources to assist them in their careers and business as well as engaging civic and government leaders, and the public to find solutions to pressing issues facing our communities, institutions, nation and world. Visit


Matt Tinder