By Leon Bridges, FAIA
On Wednesday, 25 April, the American Institute of Architects opened an exhibit honoring the 50th Anniversary of the keynote delivery by Whitney M. Young, Jr. to the 1968 National Convention of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) in Portland, Oregon. Mr. Young’s speech highlighted the “thunderous silence and complete irrelevance” of the AIA’s response to the civil and social ills afflicting our society and the built environment. His speech shook the organization and awakened the AIA resulting in an overwhelming movement addressing its responsibility to the civil and social discourse which was happening within our country.
One result was the creation of the American Institute of Architects’ Whitney M. Young, Jr. Award and Medal, the highest award by the AIA for community activism. I was privileged and immensely honored during the AIA National Convention in San Francisco, California as the 1998 awardee. The commendation read:
Dedicated to his chosen profession of architecture, better communities, and broadened opportunities, he has devoted immeasurable time, and effort away from family and a successful practice to return to those who look up to him the precious gift of mentorship and support. His work, far from over, his legacy already written: ‘A job well done’.
This 50th Anniversary Celebration brought together six currently living former recipients and Tamara Eagle Bull, the 2018 recipient of the Whitney Award (all Fellows of the American Institute of Architects) shown in the attached picture. Leon Bridges, Tamara Eagle Bull, James Spencer, Harry Robinson, Dr. Sharon Sutton, Clyde Porter and Stanford Britt. Also, is the picture of my wife, Dr. Eloise Bridges with Dr. Sutton.
The 50th Anniversary Celebration is on view in the AIA Foundation headquarters in the Octagon Building, 1735 New York Avenue, NW, Washington, DC through November.