Michael Fifield, FAIA (photo by Erik Bishoff)
For the second consecutive year, AIA-Southwestern Oregon can proudly boast that one of its own, AIA-SWO Past-President Michael Fifield, has been elevated by the American Institute of Architects to its prestigious College of Fellows. Last February, I announced that Otto P. Poticha, FAIA, and James M. Robertson, FAIA both achieved that recognition. G.Z. (“Charlie”) Brown, FAIA, was previously the most recent AIA-SWO recipient of Fellowship status, in 2006.
Only a select few are elected to the College of Fellows each year. Fellowship is conferred on architects with at least 10 years of membership in the AIA who have made significant contributions in the following areas: the aesthetic, scientific, and practical efficiency of the profession; the standards of architectural education, training, and practice; the building industry through leadership in the AIA and other related professional organizations; advancement of living standards of people through an improved environment; and to society through significant public service.
I know Michael to be especially deserving of this honor. His recognition by the College of Fellows was in no small part based upon his contributions to architectural education. His long and distinguished career in academia began at the University of Idaho, where he would receive the University Alumni Award for Faculty Excellence in 1983 and 1984. He would go on to teach at Arizona State University (and also serve as director of the Joint Urban Design Program), and then at Penn State University (where he was head of the Department of Architecture). Michael came to the University of Oregon in 1997, serving as department head from 1998 to 2003. He continues to teach at the UO, at the same time researching and writing on the topics of housing, community development, and urban design.
In addition to his teaching accomplishments, Michael has served as a peer reviewer for the General Services Administration since 2000 and as a member of numerous design award juries for AIA and American Planning Association components across the country. Most notably, Michael was the chair of the design competition jury that selected the team led by Morphosis to design the Wayne L. Morse U.S. Federal Courthouse here in Eugene. He has been a consultant for the Oregon Housing and Community Services Department, the Phoenix Arts Commission, and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). He also served as an appointed member of the National AIA Housing Committee from 1988-1992. Michael was a charter member of the Congress for a New Urbanism (1994-2001).
The successes of Michael’s tenure last year as AIA-SWO president are a testament to his vision and leadership. In particular, he championed design excellence as a focus for AIA-Southwestern Oregon activities. AIA-SWO is helping to develop a Design Excellence program at the local level that might serve as a model for other entities throughout the state.(1) He also raised the bar for our monthly chapter meeting programs, bringing in a roster of remarkable speakers that attracted record levels of attendance.
Michael is now entitled to use the designation "FAIA" following his name. He will be invested in the College of Fellows at the 2011 AIA National Convention and Design Exposition in New Orleans, May 12-14, 2011.
Please join me in congratulating Michael for his momentous achievement!
(1) Current AIA-SWO president Paul Dustrud has charged a newly formed AIA-SWO Design Excellence Committee with the task of implementing the Design Excellence|Oregon program in some form. Issues to be addressed by the committee include whether the methodology that is being crafted by Don Stastny, FAIA, FAICP of Portland can be implemented in our chapter area.