Architect David M. Childs Honored as the Inaugural Recipient of the George M. White Award

On Thursday, October 11, 2012, the American Architectural Foundation (AAF) honored David M. Childs, FAIA, consulting design partner and chairman emeritus at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, LLP, (SOM) as the inaugural recipient of the George M. White Award for Excellence in Public Architecture at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C.

The program included remarks by the Honorable Sandra Day O’Connor, U.S. Supreme Court justice (ret.); and the Honorable Stephen T. Ayers, FAIA, LEED AP, architect of the Capitol. A panel discussion on urban design and architecture in the public realm and the role of the architect in the design of the city followed, with Childs; Philip J. Enquist, FAIA, partner in charge of Urban Design and Planning at SOM; and Robert A. Peck, Hon. AIA, director of workplace consulting for the Southeast Region at Gensler.

The award is named for the late George M. White, FAIA, retired architect of the Capitol, who, during his nearly 25-year tenure, oversaw key construction and restoration projects around the nation’s capital. The event was sponsored by the children of George M. White:  Jocelyn White Martin and Robin Martin; Stephanie Bradford; and Geoffrey White. The reception was sponsored by Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill LLP (SOM).

2012 George M. White Award Guest Speaker: The Honorable Sandra Day O’Connor, U.S. Supreme Court Justice (ret.)


2012 George M. White Award Guest Speaker: The Honorable Stephen T. Ayers, FAIA, LEED AP, Architect of the Capitol


Panelists Philip J. Enquist, FAIA, partner in charge of Urban Design and Planning at SOM and Robert A. Peck, Hon. AIA, director of workplace consulting for the Southeast Region at Gensler, join Mr. Childs for a discussion of urban design and architecture in the public realm and the role of the architect in the design of the city.



George M. White, FAIA, was appointed the ninth architect of the Capitol in 1971 by President Richard Nixon. In this role, he created the Master Plan for the future development of the Capitol Complex. He oversaw construction of the Library of Congress’ James Madison Memorial Building, the Hart Senate Office Building, the Thurgood Marshall Federal Judiciary Building, and the Capitol terrace infill areas. His accomplishments included the restoration of the Old Supreme Court Chamber and Old Senate Chamber, the partial restoration of National Statuary Hall, the restoration of the U.S. Capitol Building’s west central front, and the interior restoration and renovation of the Library of Congress’ Thomas Jefferson and John Adams Buildings. His conservation efforts included the Capitol Rotunda canopy and frieze and the Statue of Freedom. In the congressional office buildings, he improved electrical, electronic, fire-protection, and transportation systems. Other work included the expansion of the Capitol Power Plant and planning and design for theNational Garden, located adjacent to the U.S. Botanic Garden Conservatory, and for the Capitol Visitor Center. He is also credited with modernizing the Office of the Architect of the Capitol and hiring a more professional staff. In addition, George White was a longtime supporter and friend of the American Architectural Foundation. From 1992 until 2005, he provided visionary leadership as a member of AAF’s Board of Regents.

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Posted in: Center for the Advancement of Architecture, Civic Leaders + Government, George M. White Award, Video

The American Architectural Foundation has been dedicated to advancing the role of architecture and design in American society since its founding in 1943 by the American Institute of Architects.

In its 75 years in existence the Foundation’s work has taken many forms — from educational programming and exhibitions in its early years to large-scale design initiatives and programs —all of which serve to create a rich legacy.

As the managing partner of the Mayors’ Institute on City Design for twenty years, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts and the United States Conference of Mayors, the Foundation helped move the needle on design and cities. And, through its other signature programs like Save America’s Treasures in partnership with National Parks Service, the Sustainable Cities Design Academy, and Design for Learning, the Foundation has provided critical design leadership training and technical assistance to hundreds of elected officials, education leaders, business leaders, and other key decision makers in the design process.

In recent years, cities and civic leaders have embraced design and design thinking in a way that could not have been imagined when the Foundation begin its work back in 1943 — and AAF’s role in this transformation is a source of great pride for the Foundation. With this increased interest in the role of design in shaping our cities came a proliferation of new organizations to support and facilitate this cultural shift. These advances in the role of design in American society and changes in the nonprofit design sector, coupled with the departure of the organization’s longest-serving CEO, prompted the Foundation’s Board to embark on an intensive and lengthy process to examine the ongoing role and work of the Foundation.

As the Board of Regents reflected on the positive changes of the cultural value of design, the accomplishments of the Foundation, and how the legacy of the Foundation’s work is being carried out by its former staff in new roles and organizations across the country, they reached the conclusion that the American Architectural Foundation had accomplished what it set out to do. As a result, the Foundation began to complete its remaining programs and wind down its operations in the Summer of 2018 and the organization’s endowments have been distributed to allied organizations. The Foundation’s research and reports will remain available on its website as a resource to the field.

The Foundation’s work would not have been possible without the incredible talents of its many staff over the decades, the generous support of its funders, and the tireless dedication of its civic & design partners across the country. The Board remains deeply proud of the significant contributions Foundation has made in its 75-year history and would like to acknowledge that this would not have been possible without the efforts, dedication, and support from so many of you.