Ronald Skaggs, FAIA
2017 Edward C. Kemper Award Recipient
From 1914 to 1948, Edward C. Kemper led the AIA as executive director. Since 1950, this award has honored members who carry on his legacy of continued and significant service to the AIA.
While serving as president of the AIA and chancellor of the College of Fellows are clear hallmarks of prominent leadership abilities, Ronald L. Skaggs’ commitment to the profession and the built environment has dominated every step of his prestigious career. Harnessing his uncanny ability to recruit, mentor, and involve others in projects and causes has built a lasting commitment to excellence within everyone who has collaborated with him.
“For over four decades, Ron Skaggs has not only served as a respected and effective leader in countless positions within the AIA network, but just as importantly as a builder of leaders,” wrote Mickey Jacob, FAIA, 2013 AIA President, in a letter supporting Skaggs’ nomination for the Edward C. Kemper Award. “It was Ron Skaggs who took me aside to tell me that he was watching my growth in AIA leadership and that one day I would become AIA President and he was there to do whatever he could for me to achieve that goal.”
Skaggs is chairman emeritus of HKS Architects, a firm with 19 offices in the United States and seven worldwide. The entirety of his career has been spent as a healthcare architect, and Skaggs has created humanistic healing environments that rely heavily on technological advances in the field, primarily in children’s hospitals, across the globe. Locally, he maintains an active role in the leadership of the Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children, serving as vice president and secretary of the board and is a present with patients, ensuring that their needs are met.
As the 76th President of the AIA in 2000, Skaggs led the institute to commit more fully to livable communities, financial responsibility, international cooperation, and architectural leadership in the communities in which architects serve. He established the AIA’s first finance committee and through his outreach efforts created a series of collaborative accords with the Architects Council of Europe, Japan Institute of Architects, Royal Institute of British Architects, The Federation of Colleges of Architecture of the Mexican Republic, and the Royal Australian Institute of Architects. In his capacity as President he also spoke at international conferences across the world.
When he was elected chancellor of the College of Fellows at the 2012 Convention, Skaggs focused on nudging all fellows to become a service to society while committing themselves to roles of positive mentorship for emerging architects. Under his leadership, the college saw the addition of 122 new fellows and seven honorary fellows, and he led the selection of the seventh Latrobe Prize for research, Urban Sphere: the City of 7 Billion. The end of his term culminated with the establishment of a College of Chancellors that advises the College of Fellows’ executive committee.
“Ron is a valuable role model of leadership and service, showing others what is possible when someone sees a need and steps forward to assure it is addressed,” wrote RK Stewart, FAIA, 2007 AIA President, in a letter supporting Skaggs’ nomination. “Time and time again Ron has answered the AIA’s call and contributed to making solutions happen.”
Beyond the AIA, Skaggs has formed strong bonds with allied organizations and has served in leadership roles on the boards of AIAS and NAAB. Additionally, as a strong supporter of education, he has pursued a variety of academic endeavors at numerous universities, including Texas A&M University, his alma matter. Skaggs has delivered commencement addresses, served as an adjunct professor, and has strongly advocated for a clear path to licensure for young architects.
“To say that the AIA Board had a person like Ron Skaggs in mind when they created this award in honor of Edward C. Kemper, Hon. AIA, is no exaggeration,” wrote Michael Stanton, FAIA, in support of Skaggs’ nomination. “All of us in the architectural community are better off today thanks to his multi-decade commitment to strengthening the profession and advancing the well being of architects.”