The American Institute of Architects (AIA) has named Ginnie Cooper, chief librarian and executive director of the District of Columbia Public Libraries, and Michael Pyatok, FAIA, an architect who has dedicated his career to the theory and practice of public housing design, as the recipients of the 2013 Thomas Jefferson Award for Public Architecture. The award recognizes exceptional architectural advocacy and achievement among private-sector architects with an established portfolio of distinguished public facilities (Category 1); public-sector architects who manage or produce quality design within their agencies (Category 2); and individuals who raise public awareness and/or appreciation of design excellence (Category 3).
Cooper, recognized within Category 3, is credited for a recent renaissance in library construction and renovation in the nation’s capitol. Beginning her career in 1970, Cooper has worked at some of the nation’s largest libraries, including the Brooklyn Public Library and its 59 neighborhood branches, and Multnomah County Library in Portland, Oregon, the largest library in the state. In July of 2006, she joined the District of Columbia Public Library as chief librarian and executive director, where she was tasked with transforming the public library from a state of ruin. Her ability to attract well-known architects and firms—including Adjaye Associates, the Freelon Group, Davis Brody Bond, CORE, Bell Architects, and Wiencek+Associates—has facilitated rebuilds and renovations in 14 of the system’s libraries and renewed a sense of pride in Washington’s public buildings.
Pyatok, recognized within Category 1, is head of his own Oakland, California-based practice, which has focused on elevating the quality of design in affordable and low-income housing. As an early advocate for density, mixed uses, and proximity to transit and services in low-income communities, he developed site planning and design strategies to create intimate groupings of neighbors that foster social cohesion among at-risk households. In 1995, he received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and AIA to write about the design of government assisted housing in his book Good Neighbors: The Design of Affordable Family Housing
, coauthored with Tom Jones and William Pettus. With his staff of 25, he has designed more than 35,000 dwellings in hundreds of domestic public projects, and has master planned more than 5,000 dwellings in low-income communities in the Philippines and Malaysia. He has been recognized with more than 150 design awards.
Both honorees will be recognized at the 2013 AIA National Convention and Design Exposition in Denver.
For more information, visit aia.org