Tittle Honored with Kemper Award for Service to the Profession

The AIA Board of Directors on December 8 elected James D. Tittle, FAIA, of the Tittle Luther Partnership, Abilene, Tex., as the 2006 recipient of the Edward C. Kemper Award. Named in honor of the AIA’s first executive director, the award recognizes individuals who contribute significantly to the profession of architecture through service to the Institute. His nominators called Tittle’s career “an extraordinary 50 years of service” and the “dedication of a professional lifetime of quiet leadership through practice, in positions of leadership and in civic activities.”

Jimmy Tittle founded Tittle Luther Partnership in 1957; it was a firm of three people. Since that time, it has grown to a staff of 20. “I have visited Abilene and seen the first house Mr. Tittle designed, the most recent complete building, and many done in the intervening years,” wrote former AIA President C. James Lawler, FAIA. “All are strong, good designs that have maintained their freshness and quality throughout time and created a list of repeat clients. He has set the standard for mentorship and firm support for employee AIA membership and participation.”

“Through [his] gifts and service, Jimmy Tittle has helped everyone see the world in different—always better and more beautiful—ways. This is an achievement all the more noteworthy given that he hails from Abilene, a small geographically remote west Texas city,” wrote David Lancaster, Hon. AIA, executive vice president of the Texas Society of Architects. “The inspiration of art, beauty, and public service knows no boundaries, it is true; but to travel farther, longer, and at a greater personal expense to provide that inspiration—not only locally but at the state, regional, and national levels—speaks volumes about his personal values and the value he brings personally to the AIA.”

Noted works in Tittle’s hometown include Holy Family Catholic Church and the Abilene Christian University Tower of Light. For his body of design work, Tittle personally received the Llewellyn Pitts Honor Award in 1997. Called “the Texas Society’s Gold Medal,” it is the TSA’s most prestigious award. The Tittle Luther Partnership received the Outstanding Firm Award from the Texas Society of Architects in 2003.

Positions of leadership
Tittle’s devotion to the AIA manifests itself through service at the local, state, and national levels in many ways. Highlights include 1958 charter membership in the Abilene Chapter of the AIA, for which he served as chapter president in 1973. He was on the board of the Texas Society of Architects, including service as president in 1993. Nationally, he sat on the Institute’s Board of Directors, as juror and presenter for the Institute’s honors program, and as regional director for the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards. Tittle has also been active at the national level through the American Architectural Foundation, serving on the AAF Board of Regents from 1992-1998.

Tittle was elevated to the College of Fellows in 1985 and has served in almost every role possible in that august body. He was Texas representative to the COF from 1987-1991; chair of the jury of Fellows in 1992; chair of the nominating committee in 1994; and on the executive committee from 1995 to 1999, serving as chancellor from 1998-1999. He is a founding member of the Chancellor’s Cup Golf Tournament.

“He has served our Institute at levels too numerous to describe in the limitations of a single page, but no matter how lofty his appointed or elected role, he has remained an active and energetic leader in matters of local and regional interest,” wrote Bill D. Smith, FAIA, Tittle is “a role model, a mentor, a friend, and hero . . . Whether a call comes from the Institute, the region, his local chapter, his home city, national leaders, local officials, or a distant colleague, Jim Tittle accepts the challenge—and he raises the bar.”

“I am very humbled by it all,” Tittle said of the award. “The AIA has done a lot more for me than I have ever done for it. So it makes me very pleased to join the cadence of all those people who have preceded me in this, including a lot of good friends. It is honored territory, and I am very appreciative.”

Civic activities
Considering his devotion to the cultural and civic welfare of his community, it is no wonder that Tittle was elected Abilene’s Outstanding Citizen of the Year in 1988. He has also served on the Abilene Chamber of Commerce’s board of directors, and Abilene Business Council. Tittle’s role in supporting the arts in his hometown state are best summed up by one of his supporters. Gary McCaleb, vice president of Abilene Christian University, says, “This architect/citizen, who was a founding member of the Abilene Cultural Affairs Council in 1978 and was cofounder of the Texas Cultural Trust Council, continues to operate on the leading edge, always mindful of the ways that art and architecture can make a meaningful difference in quality of life issues—both local and distant.”

Perhaps Tittle’s most significant civic contributions were achieved during his gubernatorial appointment to (and chair of) the Texas Commission on the Arts from 1989-1995. In this role, Tittle became a founding member of the Texas Cultural Trust, created in 1993 by the Texas Legislature to provide a stable funding source for the arts in Texas. This historic legislation made Texas the first state in the nation to have a true endowment for the arts, and, once the goal of $3 million is reached, the arts in Texas will be supported by the income earned on the endowment rather than from taxpayer dollars.

Tittle continues to serve as the chair of the Taylor County War Memorial, a position he has held since 1995; chair of the Abilene Cultural Affairs Council (since 1983); and chair and founder of Young Audiences (since 1994). He also served on the board of directors for the Mid-America Arts Alliance from 1993-1996 and was a 1994 design panelist for the National Endowment for the Arts.

The AIA membership will celebrate Tittle’s leadership and dedication with him during the 2006 AIA National Convention in Los Angeles in June.

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The AIA membership will celebrate Tittle’s leadership and dedication with him during the 2006 AIA National Convention in Los Angeles in June.

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