This year’s Thomas Jefferson Awards honor two practitioners who have had a vital and positive influence on architecture’s interaction with the public. They are James Binkley, FAIA, a federal agency design leader, and David Burney, FAIA, a New York City municipal department commissioner. Both exemplify the architecture profession’s responsibility to improve the everyday lives of the public.
James Binkley, FAIA, has led three influential agencies in refining sustainability and design standards, making the national government a leader in progressive, green architecture. At the General Services Administration, he created a national design awards program that became a forerunner to today’s Design Excellence program. At the Department of Energy, he led the development of a national energy standards program that became mandatory for all federal buildings and is used in nearly all state and local building codes as well. James recently ended his tenure at the U.S. Postal Service where he was responsible for changing the way the USPS hired architects and procured design services for its 29,000 buildings. The results were regionally responsive projects that created a new generation of postal facilities celebrated for their beauty, energy efficiency and design savvy.
David Burney, FAIA, has tirelessly raised architecture standards and expectations for two major government agencies - the New York City Housing Authority, the nation’s largest public housing agency, and the Department of Design and Construction, responsible for building all of the city’s municipal facilities like libraries, fire stations, and police precincts. Among his tasks, David executed the DDC’s Design and Construction Excellence Initiative, in which he raised the standards for public architecture, focusing on the creation of memorable, quality design projects and not simply low budgets. He also dramatically increased the breadth and diversity of architecture firms hired by the city, paying special attention to small firms, and especially women and minority-owned companies. The quality of the work both his agencies have produced is evidenced by the many design awards their buildings have earned.
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