2019 Honorary Membership Recipient

The AIA recognizes the notable contributions and service of people outside of the architecture profession with Honorary Membership in the Institute.

With a penchant for advocacy that is largely unmatched in the Mid-Atlantic Region, attorney Richard J. Davies has built his service on a deep understanding of and appreciation for the roles architects play in shaping our communities. Through his daily practice and uncanny skill with contract documents, he educates and protects owners and developers while providing his architect clients with a clear path to successful projects.

Davies has long been a defender of the architectural and engineering professions in the greater Philadelphia area and the entire Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. He has lobbied state and local legislations against imposing responsibilities that do not belong on the shoulders of architects and engineers, and advocated against conferring licensure on decorators and designers whose qualifications do not reflect their ability to provide design services in a way that protects public health and safety.

In Philadelphia, Davies led and coordinated the design and construction professions’ effort to defeat a bill drafted by the city council that shifted the responsibility of safe site conditions from contractors to design professionals. Introduced in response to a tragic site accident, Davies quickly identified it as overreaching in its intentions. He undertook all the work on a pro bono basis and successfully persuaded the council member who authored the bill to revisit the proposed legislation.

Beyond his daily practice, Davies provides outstanding continuing education opportunities. To date, he has presented more than 100 courses to architects, most of which identify the legal issues and changes to laws that greatly affect the practice of architecture. He has a keen ability to make educational sessions about contract documents and ethics issues engaging and relevant, ensuring that the design community is equipped to face future challenges.

In his role as chair of Philadelphia’s Center for Architecture and Design, Davies has reinvigorated its Architecture in Education program in response to an urgent need to attract diverse talent to the profession. He was instrumental in bringing DesignPhiladelphia, a 10-day, citywide festival that attracts significant awareness to architecture and design, to the center and helped reimagine AIA Philadelphia’s annual conference as the well-attended Forum on Architecture + Design. Davies was also key in shepherding the center and chapter through a recent leadership transition and the adoption of a new business model, broadening their impact and ensuring their longevity.


Amanda T. Petretti, AIA, Chair, Studio Petretti Architecture, Portland, Oregon

Sara DeMuth, AIA, Buell Kratzer Powell Ltd., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Zurich Esposito, Hon. AIA,  AIA Chicago, Chicago, Illinois

Image credits

Davies- Richard J.-04

Chris Kendig

Davies- Richard J.-03

Joe Kaczmarek

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Joe Kaczmarek

Davies- Richard J.-06

Joe Kaczmarek