by James Russell FAIA
Fellowship inductees, 134 of us, were arranged in glistening, dark-robed rows on one of the curving blond-wood tiers of the Knight Concert Hall at Miami’s Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts (Pelli Clarke Pelli, 2006). The long road to this ceremony required all of us, including 14 successful candidates from the AIA New York Chapter, to consider deeply where our careers had led, both the gratifying accomplishments and the professional ditches we drove into along the way.
Still, I didn’t know what to expect somehow. The ceremony itself mixed metaphors. An elegant organ blast set an ecclesiastical mood. The chancellors and past presidents, hung with medals, suggested Masonic exclusivity and secrecy. Strolling across the stage to receive my medal and be handed a hefty volume listing illustrious fellows of the past, I was reminded of graduations. There were many radiant smiles as my fellow Fellows trod the stage — along with some artistically significant footwear under the rustling robes.
For all the formal trappings, there was not a speck of pomposity. I was happy to be among colleagues I’ve long known, but perfect strangers enthusiastically congratulated me, which was gratifyingly unexpected. Warm wishes flowed across the room for everyone in waves. On my way up to the stage, the formidable officers greeted me with the easy familiarity of old friends and the wise admonition to take the time to recognize the significance of the honor and be present for the moment.
Each of us must have thought again about how we got here. As a young architect in the 1980s, the last thing I could have predicted was that I would be accepting this medal — as a journalist yet — and that I would receive this extraordinary honor in the same year as my employer at the time, Peter Bohlin, FAIA, would receive the AIA’s Gold Medal.
James S. Russell, FAIA, serves as Editorial Advisor on the Oculus Committee, and is the architecture columnist for Bloomberg News.
Editor’s Note: The AIA New York Chapter would once again like to congratulation the 14 Chapter members elevated to the College of Fellows this year: Christine J. Bodouva, FAIA, LEED AP; Michael F. Doyle, FAIA; Donald Fram, FAIA; Lia Gartner, FAIA, LEED AP; Stephanie Gelb, FAIA; Samuel Alexander Klatskin, FAIA; Joan Krevlin, FAIA, LEED AP; Sandro Marpillero, FAIA; Bernard A. Marson, FAIA; Bogdan Z. Pestka, FAIA; James S. Russell; FAIA; Anthony P. Schirripa, FAIA, IIDA; Walter Sedovic, FAIA, LEED AP; Yvonne Szeto, FAIA, LEED AP.