2020 Honorary Membership Recipients

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

As an editor and writer, Janet Rumbarger, Hon. AIA has long embraced the work of architects, marrying her abilities to support the profession. In staff roles at AIA and the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB), Rumbarger has advanced AIA’s mission through clarity of message and elevated the quality of architectural education.

Rumbarger joined AIA in 1988 as the managing editor and production editor for AIA Press, where her expertise informed many of the books and journals referenced by architects nearly every day, including numerous editions of Architectural Graphic Standards and The Architect’s Handbook of Professional Practice. For each edition of the 1,000-page handbook, she negotiated the contracts for more than 150 contributors, administered its editorial calendar, and copy edited the entire volume. She was later selected to serve as director of AIA special projects in support of AIA’s 150th anniversary. The celebration culminated in the publication of Architecture: Celebrating the Past, Designing the Future. Rumbarger was the managing editor for the book, widely considered an encyclopedia of the country’s architectural evolution, and penned the majority of its uncredited sections.

While the AIA150 celebration was the centerpiece of Rumbarger’s time at AIA, she also played significant roles in launching AIA’s brand identity and its transition to electronic publishing. Regardless of size, everything from newsletters to marketing collateral began with Rumbarger.

For the past decade, Rumbarger has worked with NAAB and in 2017 was named its director of international services. In her role, she manages the organization’s important international programs and initiatives, including its substantial equivalency program that determines if programs outside of the country merit certification from NAAB. While not providing accreditation, the program ensures these architecture education programs offer comparable outcomes and meet rigorous standards. Currently, 14 programs in 10 countries boast substantial equivalency status.

In addition, Rumbarger is the secretariat for Canberra Accord, a worldwide collective organized to determine substantial equivalence status for architecture degree programs. The accord reflects the core principles of the UNESCO-UIA Charter for Architectural Education. NAAB has joined accrediting bodies from seven other countries as accord signatories.

Operating in an industry that is largely driven by images, Rumbarger’s expertise has supported architects for more than 30 years. Her work, often done quietly, has made a lasting impact on the profession, both nationally and internationally.


Sylvia Kwan, FAIA, Chair, DLR Group Kwan Henmi, San Francisco, California

Joan Soranno, FAIA, Hammel, Green & Abrahmson, Inc. Minneapolis, Minnesota

Melanie Ray, AIA, Hord Coplan Macht, Baltimore, Maryland

Image credits

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Janet Rumbarger