2014 AIA Institute Honors for Collaborative and Professional Achievement

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Rick Smith | Notes of Interest

Rick Smith’s technical expertise and embrace of cutting-edge design challenges have made him an essential collaborator on landmark projects by leading architects. By introducing computer-aided design and 3D digital modeling into architectural design, most notably through his work with Frank Gehry, FAIA, Rick has paved the way for a dramatic transformation in the practice of architecture.

Rick’s early interest in architecture was redirected by a prescient recognition of the potential of CAD, and he became a leader in the application of design technology for engineering and manufacturing. This path converged with architecture in 1991, when Rick began working with Gehry’s firm to realize gravity-defying visions for structure such as the Guggenheim Bilbao and Walt Disney Concert Hall. Rick also worked with contractors and fabricators to bring these designs to life, customizing digital tools and techniques as new challenges arose.

These achievements electrified the architecture community, catapulting Gehry to prominence, expanding the boundaries of the buildable, and ushering the design and building industries into a digital era that is still unfolding. In all this, Rick has been an essential collaborator. His work is simply proof of his greater contribution: expanding the frontiers of what is possible in architecture through a technological revolution that is inherently collaborative.

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Photo Credit

© Rick Smith; Randall Stout, Albert Gallery of Arts; Smithsonian Institute

Rick Smith


2014 Collaborative Achievement Jury

  • William Bates, AIA, Chair
  • Eat'n Park Hospitality Group
  • Homestead, Pennsylvania
  • Amanda Palasik, Assoc. AIA
  • GWWO, Inc.
  • Baltimore
  • Rona Rothenberg, FAIA
  • Administrative Office of the Courts
  • Alameda, California
  • Benjamin Vargas, FAIA
  • Bartizan Group Architects & Project Managers, PSC
  • Hato Rey, Puerto Rico
  • Jennifer Workman, AIA
  • Good Fulton & Farrell, Inc.
  • Dallas

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