Great public architecture embodies the identity and values of a society. This award, known as the Thomas Jefferson Award, was established in 1992 to recognize the importance of public officials or individuals who by their role and advocacy have furthered the public’s awareness and appreciation of design excellence in public architecture.

As a result of AIA’s commitment to equity and justice in the built environment, AIA is currently assessing its awards programs. The assessment, which was approved by the Board of Directors in 2020 and is inclusive of Fellowship, will review all honors and awards processes, including the naming of awards like the Thomas Jefferson Award, to identify potential implicit and explicit barriers and biases. The review will inform the development of measures meant to increase the diversity of honors and awards nominees and recipients, as well as future members of the College of Fellows. The audit is expected to be completed in the summer of 2021 and will follow with specific recommendations to the AIA Board of Directors.

Any AIA member, group of members, component, or AIA knowledge community may nominate candidates in the following three categories:

  • Category one: private sector architects licensed in the US with an established portfolio of accomplishment in distinguished public facilities
  • Category two: public sector architects employed in the US public sector or in US government agencies that manage or produce public architecture
  • Category three: public officials or private individuals advocating for or furthering public awareness and appreciation of quality public architecture

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