2017 Thomas Jefferson Award for Public Architecture Recipient
The Thomas Jefferson Awards for Public Architecture recognize architects in the public and private sectors, public officials, or other individuals who design distinguished public facilities and/or who advocate for design excellence.
The City of Philadelphia has experienced an immense amount of change in the past decade, much of which can be attributed to former Mayor Michael Nutter’s progressive urban agenda. But every facet of the city’s transformation—from post-industrial city in trouble to model of sustainable practices, advanced planning, and entrepreneurship—bears the mark of Alan Greenberger.
Lured from his role as a principal at Philadelphia’s MGA Partners by the Nutter administration in 2008, Greenberger quickly assumed a dual role as deputy mayor and chairman of the City Planning Commission. Responsible for the Department of Commerce as well as oversight of planning and 10 additional agencies, Greenberger spearheaded an audacious initiative to rewrite the city’s antiquated and convoluted zoning code and create Philadelphia2035, a comprehensive plan for the city’s renaissance. During his tenure, he also completed and approved plans for all 37 miles of the city’s waterfront and led Philadelphia to its greatest redevelopment and population influx since the mid-20th century.
When the Nutter administration reached its two-term limit, Greenberger left full-time public office. He now shares his knowledge and wealth of experience with the next generation of design professionals at Drexel University as a Fellow of the Lindy Institute for Urban Innovation and Distinguished Teaching Professor in the Department of Architecture Design & Urbanism, which he now heads. Greenberger remains active with the city he helped become a World Heritage City in 2015, serving as chairman of the Philadelphia Art Commission. An independent body, it is tasked with design oversight of all public facilities, signage, and artwork.
Government has the unique ability to influence the course of design and development, and architects like Greenberger play a critical role in elevating the appreciation of design in major cities. His work is additional testimony to the inspiring contributions that dedicated public architects make every day as partners in building vibrant cities and civic dialogue.