2017 Honorary Membership Recipient

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

A specialist in the preservation of architectural archives, Cynthia Peterson’s theoretical approach and visionary actions have propelled the public awareness of architecture in Sarasota, Fla., and beyond to new heights.

As the founder and board chair of the Center for Architecture Sarasota, Peterson has developed a slate of programming of significance to AIA members as well as the public. The Center, housed in the 1959 Scott Building designed by Sarasota School of Architecture architects William Rupp, AIA, and Joseph Farrell, AIA, has provided the Florida Gulf Coast Chapter with its first physical office at no cost to its membership.

To establish the Center, Peterson negotiated with Sarasota County for the use of the building and raised over $1.5 million for its renovation. Working in partnership with the University of Florida School of Architecture, Peterson helped establish the UF CityLab-Sarasota graduate architecture program, which now shares space with the Center.

Beyond its programming, the Center carries out the vital task of showcasing Sarasota as an important center of Modernist architecture. The city contains a wealth of buildings from the period, many of which are considered masterpieces.

In her previous role as curator of the University of Florida Architecture Archives, Peterson provided educational instruction and support while overseeing the acquisition, preservation, and digitization of historical architectural records. Established in 2004 to preserve and promote the unique records of Florida and the Caribbean region’s built heritage, the archives are a resource for gleaning an appreciation of the contributions made by Florida’s design professionals. The archives, which contain firm records, drawings, and other ephemera, is a collection focused on prominent Modernist architects and landscape architects.

Energetic and creative, Peterson has worked tirelessly to educate the public about the importance of architecture while, through the creation of the Center, reinvigorating an important piece of the city’s legacy.


Dennis Astorino (Chair), DLA+ Architecture & Interior Design, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Beverly Hauschild Baron, Hon. AIA, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Britt Lindberg, AIA, Gensler, San Jose, California

Image credits

Cynthia L. Peterson, Hon. AIA

Barbara Banks

Cynthia Peterson and husband at Center for Architecture Sarasota


Cynthia Peterson receiving Hon Membership from AIA Florida

Laura Teller