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Wiss, Janney, Elstner Receive AAF’s 2015 Oculus Award



The American Architectural Foundation (AAF) is pleased to announce that Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates, Inc. (WJE) received the prestigious Oculus Award at the Oculus Award Luncheon on Tuesday, December 1 at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, DC. The firm was recognized for their leadership in solving structural, architectural, and material problems in historic preservation throughout the United States. The luncheon’s Keynote Speaker was The Honorable Betty McCollum (D-MN).

The Oculus Award was developed to highlight organizations whose preservation initiatives promote vibrant, sustainable communities. The motto of WJE’s founder Jack R. Janney to “ask the structure” continues to serve as a fundamental guiding statement for WJE’s approach to preservation and conservation processes.

This mentality was clear when Matthew Farmer, WJE Principal who accepted the award said, “We take pride in every assignment, whether it is something as small as a mix design for historic concrete or an anchorage detail for terra cotta…It is an honor and privilege to accept this award on behalf of all of those throughout our company that contribute to our preservation projects.”

Founded in 1956, WJE’s preservation team’s impressive expertise in historic construction has enabled them to investigate and assess historically significant properties including the American Museum of Natural History in New York City and the Washington National Cathedral and Washington Monument in Washington, DC. In addition, its state-of-the-art materials-testing laboratory in Northbrook, Illinois (the Janney Technical Center) has become an integral and leading component in the science of preservation and design across the country.

“Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates have long demonstrated their active commitment to preserving historic sites,” said Ron Bogle, Hon. AIA, AAF President and CEO. “Their preservation endeavors, which include Farnsworth House, the Woolworth Building, and Alcatraz Cellhouse among others have positioned them as leaders in the historic preservation field, and the American Architectural Foundation is pleased to recognize their body of work with the 2015 Oculus Award,” he said.

Preservation architects, engineers, federal and local public officials, and other leaders from the preservation world attended the event. It is the centerpiece public event of AAF’s Center for Design & Cultural Heritage, which was created in 2013 as a platform to elevate AAF’s efforts in support of America’s historic and culturally important sites, structures, and communities.  Proceeds from the luncheon help support the Center’s marquee initiatives, which include Save America’s Treasures and the Thought Leadership Forum series.

For more information or to join the conversation on the future of preservation, please contact Vanessa Ofwono, Strategic Relations Integration Manager, at vofwono@archfoundation.org or 202.787.1018.

Photos courtesy of Colin Winterbottom.

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Posted in: Center for Design & Cultural Heritage, Oculus Award, Print

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.