Award recognizes significant contributions to the profession and Institute
Washington, D.C. – December 17, 2013 – The American Institute of Architects Board of Directors bestowed the Edward C. Kemper Award on Fredric “Rick” Bell, FAIA, in recognition of his service to New York City and his commitment to sustainable design and public health. Named in honor of the AIA’s first executive director, the award is given annually to an architect who has contributed significantly to the profession through service to the AIA.
With extensive experience in both public and private practice, Bell has dedicated his career to improving the lives of residents in New York City and the surrounding areas. He was appointed executive director of the AIA New York chapter in June 2001, mere months before the Sept. 11 attacks. In the aftermath of that disaster, he provided support to members who had been directly affected by the destruction and the subsequent economic downturn. Bell was instrumental in the effort to create AIA New York's storefront Center for Architecture, which has since become a model for similar architecture centers nationwide. Bell has served on numerous boards and committees, is an avid speaker and writer, and remains a staunch advocate for using architecture to positively affect public health and the environment.
“Rick advocates tirelessly for the profession and, simply put, makes things happen,” wrote Jill Lerner, FAIA, and Lance Brown, FAIA, in their joint nomination letter on behalf of AIA New York. “As an architect with a clear vision for the future and an unfailing capacity to speak to the value and power of architecture, Rick Bell merits the distinction that the Edward C. Kemper Award confers.”
Bell's began his architecture career as an undergraduate at Yale University, where he earned a B.A. cum laude with a double major in architecture and art history in 1973. Three years later, he graduated from Columbia University with an M.Arch degree. He soon joined the firm of Warner Burns Toan and Lunde, where he designed public libraries, university structures, and hotels.
In October 1993, he joined the New York City Department of Design + Construction. As chief architect and assistant commissioner, he oversaw about 700 projects with a combined value of approximately $1.5 billion, frequently presenting these projects to the Art Commission, City Planning Commission, and Landmarks Preservation Commission, among others. At this agency, Bell led a collaborative effort to produce the first set of universal design guidelines for New York City.
The Center for Architecture, which opened in 2003, served as the meeting place for many reconstruction activities, and has since become a definitive model for bringing architecture to the forefront of public consciousness. Since its opening, the Center has hosted 20 exhibitions per year and has become a model for other centers for architecture, of which there are now 22 nationwide. As a founding board member of the Association of Architectural Associations, Bell connected these centers and others in a network that shares expertise and advocates for the profession. Under Bell's leadership, the AIA New York chapter has demonstrably grown in size, reach, and importance--membership in AIA New York has more than doubled during his tenure.
More recently, Bell led AIA New York in a collaborative regional response to the areas affected by 2012's Superstorm Sandy. Bell helped convene a regional conference that allowed participants to compare projects and catalyze government responses; the recommendations that came out of the conference were published in a widely disseminated report.
When it comes to public policy, Bell has been particularly passionate about public health and sustainability. He initiated FitCity, a new program that merges architecture and public health by encouraging more physical activity in daily life. In 2010, FitCity became a part of New York City policy with the release of the New York City Active Design Guidelines, for which Bell wrote the introduction. In 2011, he introduced the FitNation program, which promotes a range of design solutions that benefit public health through workshops and exhibitions.
Finally, Bell has been a prolific advocate for his chapter specifically, and for the profession in general, through his numerous publications. He has written more than 150 columns for AIA New York’s Oculus and eOculus, and contributed chapters to books about global design. He has served on numerous boards and committees, and won several prestigious awards, including the LaGuardia Medallion for “constant and dedicated service” for neighborhood arts and diversity as well as AIA New York State’s Kideney Gold Medal. In 2008, Bell was the AIA’s president of the Council of Architectural Component Executives, the only architect to have held this position.
You can get more information and see images of Bell here: http://www.aia.org/practicing/awards/2014/kemper-award/fredric-bell/
About The American Institute of Architects
Founded in 1857, members of the American Institute of Architects consistently work to create more valuable, healthy, secure, and sustainable buildings, neighborhoods, and communities. Through nearly 300 state and local chapters, the AIA advocates for public policies that promote economic vitality and public well being. Members adhere to a code of ethics and conduct to ensure the highest professional standards. The AIA provides members with tools and resources to assist them in their careers and business as well as engaging civic and government leaders, and the public to find solutions to pressing issues facing our communities, institutions, nation and world. Visit www.aia.org.