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Distinguished Alumni Honorees

Distinguished Alumni Honorees


Not awarded


Marlene Imirzian, B.S.’80, M.Arch.’83
Marlene Imirzian is principal of Marlene Imirzian & Associates Architects, a regional practice with offices in Phoenix, Arizona and Escondido, California. The firm was named 18 in the Architect Top 50 in the 2016 Architect magazine rankings. Under Imirzian’s guidance, the firm creates finely considered and inventive buildings from concepts of architectural beauty, excitement, and purpose.  Her work is known for its design excellence, project performance, and integration of sustainable design.


Kristina Ford, Ph.D.'76
Ford is Professor of Professional Practice in International and Public Affairs at Columbia University. From 1992 to 2000, she served as director of city planning for New Orleans, and in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, she was often sought out by international news agencies for her insight into the problems faced by New Orleans pre- and post-hurricane. She is the author of The Trouble with City Planning: What New Orleans Can Teach Us published by Yale University Press and Planning Small Town America. Her most recent research looks at the challenges of implementing sound and workable public policy. Her latest book, slated to be published in 2016, is titled Implementing Public Policy: The Heart of the Matter.


Tom Tjaarda, B.Arch.'58
Tom Tjaarda is one of the world’s most innovative and distinguished designers. A legend in European automotive design circles, he is best known for his imaginative, exciting sports cars of the 1970s and 80s that include production, prototype, custom, modification, and show cars. Of particular note are the Fiat Spyder, later versions of Mustangs, and his signature car, the Pantera. The Pantera (’71-’78) built in Italy by De Tomaso and distributed in the U.S. by Lincoln-Mercury, is a two-seater, dynamic car with powerful, direct steering aimed at the sports car driver of moderate means and is collected by car enthusiasts everywhere. Tjaarda maintains his own firm, Tjaarda Designs, in Torino, Italy.


Karen Fairbanks, B.S. '81
Fairbanks is a founding partner of Marble Fairbanks, Brooklyn, New York,  whose work encompasses educational, institutional, and residential projects. She is the Ann Whitney Olin Professor of Professional Practice in Architecture at Barnard College and chair of the Architecture Department, teaching architecture design studios and courses on architecture and technology at Barnard College and Columbia University. Her firm focuses on cultural and institutional projects for public and private clients in the New York City region, including Queens Library, Princeton University, Haverford College, Columbia University, The New School, The Museum of Modern Art and New York University. Marble Fairbanks was selected for the NYC Department of Design and Construction’s Design Excellence Program and has been recognized with numerous international design awards including American Architecture Awards, the Emerging Architect Award, and a Progressive Architecture Award.


Peter Lagerwey, M.U.P. '81
Lagerwey is a nationally-known expert in alternative transportation issues and is Regional Office Director for the Toole Design Group, the nation’s leading planning, engineering and landscape architecture firm specializing in bicycle and pedestrian transportation, in Seattle. For the last three decades – many years before such issues were widely discussed – he has worked on non-motorized transportation projects. He was responsible for developing and implementing the widely acclaimed Seattle Bicycle Master Plan, giving the city its reputation as "the most bike-friendly city of its size" as well as one of America's most livable cities. In addition, Lagerwey has served on nearly every national committee writing guidelines for planning and designing pedestrian and bicycle facilities. A creative and collaborative planner, his efforts have changed the way people do transportation planning in cities all over the world.


James Chaffers, FAIA, M.Arch.'69, D.Arch.'71
Chaffers, emeritus professor of architecture, focuses his professional and academic work on the design links between spatial quality and human spirituality. He is widely known for design development consultations for art museums, cultural memorials, and urban planning/urban design projects focused on medical campus planning. He has served as director of the University of Michigan Ph.D. Program in Architecture; director of the Villa Corsi-Salviati Design Studio in Florence, Italy; and the director of the Taubman College West African Studio in Accra and Kumasi, Ghana. He is the author of Spacespirit, a text focused on issues of design quality, human communality, and ecological sustainability for the new millennium. He served on the committee that generated the design criteria and helped secure the site for the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial on the National Mall in Washington D.C. and also served on the design selection jury. 


Peter Kuttner, FAIA, B.S. '73, M.Arch.'74
President of Cambridge Seven Associates, Peter Kuttner synthesizes his leadership role with the design and management of a wide range of projects. He has been instrumental in forging the next generation's collaborative spirit at C7A, bringing the firm's wealth of experience to master planning, architectural, and exhibit design, with particular focus on complex museum and academic projects accommodating a rich variety of activities. Committed to the architectural profession in its many aspects, Peter represents New England on the Board of the American Institute of Architects,  was co-chair of the NCARB IDP Advisory Committee, chaired the Boston Foundation for Architecture, and is an emeritus overseer  for the Boston Architectural College.


Jorge Perez, M.U.P.'76
Founder, CEO, and chairman of The Related Group, and managing general partner of The Related Group of Florida, Perez has committed his real estate development to be about making places and communities that are livable, affordable, beautiful, and sustainable—from building affordable housing in Miami’s Little Havana to high profile urban developments in downtown Miami. His position at the forefront of South Florida’s urban evolution includes his promotion of design excellence in new development; his commitment to transformative urban projects; and his role as a leader in the creation and management of affordable housing across the nation. Perez is the recipient of countless awards, including a 2007 National Building Museum Honor Award that he accepted on behalf of The Related Group; he received the Icon in Real Estate Award of Excellence at MIPIM in Cannes, France—the only American developer ever to have been honored with this prestigious award. 


Joseph M. Valerio, FAIA, B.Arch.’70
Founding partner and design principal of Chicago-based Valerio Dewalt Train Associates, Valerio has been recognized with scores of awards including PA design, local, regional, and national AIA awards, among others. He has served as chair of the National AIA's Committee on Design, as a member of GSA's Peer Review Panels, president of the Chicago Architectural Club, and president of the Contemporary Arts Council (Chicago). Notable projects include the recent addition to the Kresge Foundation in Troy, Michigan; Block 89 in Madison, Wisconsin, 3Com Corp. in Rolling Meadows, Illinois; the Garmin Flagship Store, the U.S. Robotics PCD headquarters, and the NBC studio for the Democratic national convention, all in Chicago.


Robert C. Metcalf, FAIA, B.Arch.’50
An important member of the college community for over half a century—as student, alumnus, faculty, and leader, Metcalf returned to U-M to study architecture after having served in World War II. Shortly after graduation, he joined the faculty, also serving as chair of the architecture program, and as dean of the reconfigured College of Architecture and Urban Planning from 1974 to 1986. As the architect of scores of residences, most in the Ann Arbor area, he has a reputation as a designer who respects the needs and desires of his clients while holding to a standard of design excellence for carefully crafted details. He has served the profession in national and state leadership positions in the AIA, ACSA, and NAAB.


Daniel L. Dworsky, FAIA, B.Arch.’50
Dworsky was a four-year starter for Fritz Crisler's Michigan Wolverines football teams from 1945 to 1948. He played linebacker, fullback, and center and was a key player on the undefeated 1947 and 1948 Michigan football teams that won consecutive national championships. In 1949, Dworsky was the first round draft pick of the Los Angeles Dons of the All-America Football Conference. Dworsky turned down an offer from the Pittsburgh Steelers to return to the University of Michigan to pursue a degree in architecture. Crisler gave Dworsky his first major commission: the design of Crisler Arena on the Ann Arbor campus. He established his firm, Dworsky Associates, in Los Angeles in 1950 and built many distinguished public buildings in California, including the award-winning 1987 Federal Reserve Bank, and the Calexico Port of Entry Building, which won a Presidential Design award in 2001.


Marcy Kaptur, M.U.P.’74
Congresswoman Kaptur, who represents Ohio's Ninth Congressional District, is currently serving her sixteenth term in the U.S. House of Representatives. She is the senior-most woman in the House and the longest-serving woman from Ohio in history. Congresswoman Kaptur ranks among the most senior Members of the 114th Congress. She is the first woman and first graduate of the Urban and Regional Planning program to receive this award, and she is the recipient of many other accolades, most recently the Director's Award from the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University for her commitment to increased understanding and appreciation of the peoples and cultures of Eurasia, Russia and Eastern Europe. She has been long recognized for her contributions as a public servant in the arenas of housing and neighborhood development, mental health, social justice, economic development, and humanitarian causes both domestically and internationally.


Sim Van der Ryn, B.Arch.’58
Van der Ryn is a renowned leader in sustainable architecture. His design, planning, teaching and public leadership have advanced the viability, acceptance and knowledge base of ecological principles and practices in architecture and planning. As professor of architecture at UC Berkeley, he was a key force in establishing Berkeley's international reputation as a leading school focusing on issues of socially and environmentally responsible design. For his leadership and innovation, Mr. Van der Ryn has won numerous honors and awards including a Nathaniel Owings Award; a Progressive Architecture Merit Award for the Marin Solar Village; and a Commendation for Excellence in Technology, American Institute of Architects California Council. He has held Graham Foundation and Guggenheim fellowships and has written several cutting-edge books about sustainable planning and design, including Sustainable Communities (1986) with Peter Calthorpe and Ecological Design (1996) with Stuart Cowan.


James van Sweden, B.Arch.’60
In 1975 van Sweden and his partner Wolfgang Oehme founded Oehme van Sweden, a collaboration credited with founding a “New American Garden” style of landscape architecture. Their approach made a dramatic impact on the look of both private gardens and public spaces through a dynamic style that emphasized layered masses of foliage that evoked mystery, intrigue, and discovery. Some of their most important projects include the redesign of all planting along Pennsylvania Avenue from the U.S. Treasury to the National Gallery in Washington, D.C. for the Pennsylvania Avenue Development Corporation; the Virginia Avenue Gardens of the Federal Reserve Board, also in Washington; and the Gardens of the Great Basin at the Chicago Botanic Garden; as well as many other public and private gardens.


Ralph Rapson FAIA, B.Arch. ‘38
Rapson explored the possibilities of modern design through a vast range of media. Studying at Cranbrook Academy of Art under Eliel Saarinen, he developed a lively approach to objects, creating the iconic “Rapson Rapid Rocker” early in his design career. As a practicing architect for more than 60 years, Rapson established his reputation with such important projects as Case Study House No. 4 (1945), U.S. Embassies in Stockholm and Copenhagen (1954), and many buildings in greater Minneapolis, including the Tyrone Guthrie Theatre (1963). As dean of the University of Minnesota School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture (1954-84), he was the defining educational presence for generations of University of Minnesota architects, crafting a curriculum rooted in the technical, economic, and social aspects of architecture along with strong and innovative design.


Robert J. Frasca, FAIA, B.Arch.’57
Frasca has made significant contributions to American architecture and urbanism both as an individual designer and as partner in charge of design at one of the country’s leading architecture firms, Zimmer Gunsul Frasca Architects LLP, in Portland, Oregon. He helped transform the firm into an international design practice with a reputation for excellence. He is particularly recognized for his ability to create buildings that fit their surroundings by responding to program, climate, and place. In 2011 he was awarded the Medal of Honor from the AIA Northwest & Pacific Region. Important design projects include the Oregon Convention Center, the Portland International Airport, and the Mark O. Hatfield Clinical Research Center for the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland.


Charles Correa, B.Arch.’53
Correa is known for designs that translate the language of modernism into a dialect of the Indian subcontinent with sensitivity and professionalism. He established a practice in Mumbai in 1958 and devoted his career to a commitment to excellence in design across a spectrum of scale—from museums, government buildings, and universities to apartments for low-income families, creating an architecture for post-independence India. His innovative work established Correa as an internationally acclaimed figure in contemporary architecture, often called “India’s Greatest Architect.” He received numerous honors throughout his career, including the Royal Gold Medal for Architecture by the Royal Institute of British Architecture in 1984 and the 1998 Aga Khan Award for Architecture. 

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