december 15, 2006
  Vosbeck Honored with Kemper Award for Service to the AIA

Summary: The AIA Board of Directors on December 7 elected R. Randall Vosbeck, FAIA, former president of the Institute and principal of Vosbeck, Vosbeck, Kendrick & Redinger, as the 2007 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. In nominating Vosbeck for the award, AIA President-elect Marshall E. Purnell, FAIA, wrote, “I have not met anyone with more passion for service to the profession. Randy has been in active service to the AIA here and abroad for 25 years after serving as AIA President. He continues to inspire my commitment to the importance of giving back.”

Vosbeck received his architecture degree from the University of Minnesota. He practiced in the Washington, D.C., area for 40 years and was founder and president of VVKR, an architecture, engineering, and planning firm. After VVKR was sold to a Swiss firm, he joined DMJM as vice president in charge of the Washington office. In 1994, he retired from active practice and relocated to Vail, Colo., where he serves as a volunteer advisor to civic and community groups. “I am quite sincere in saying that no one in the Institute is more qualified and deserving to receive the Kemper Award than Randy Vosbeck and I strongly recommend him for this honor,” wrote 1973 AIA President S. Scott Ferebee Jr., FAIA, in Vosbeck’s support.

Leader in energy research and design
In more than 40 years of AIA membership, Vosbeck’s distinguished career has enveloped the practice of architecture and serving the Institute with equal fervor. His early years culminated in service as the 57th president of the Institute in 1981. His priority during his tenure was energy in the built environment, as reflected in the AIA’s 1981 theme, “A Line on Design and Energy.” The energy crisis of the late ‘70s was in full swing, and Vosbeck focused the Institute’s efforts—and the public’s awareness—toward the role architects play in reducing energy consumption in the built environment. Under his leadership, the AIA implemented “Energy in Architecture,” a comprehensive professional development program that has influenced the profession’s role to the current day.

Vosbeck focused the Institute’s efforts—and the public’s awareness—toward the role architects play in reducing energy consumption in the built environment

International ambassador
In the 1970s, the U.S General Services Administration appointed Vosbeck as the only architect in private practice to serve on a US/USSR joint working group, “Building Design and Construction Management,” through which members exchanged information and toured sites in both countries. This experience triggered his strong interest in international relations. In 1981, as president, Vosbeck presented an address on “Energy in Architecture” to the International Union of Architects 15th Congress in Warsaw, Poland, and subsequently was elected to serve a three-year term on the UIA Council representing the AIA and Region 3. He was elected to a second three-year term and worked diligently to build relations with architects from many countries. During his UIA tenure, he also was instrumental in establishing the criteria, process, and procedures to establish a Gold Medal Award program for the UIA. Vosbeck also was instrumental in advocating to the AIA Board to have the Institute host the 1993 UIA Congress and General Assembly, which took place in Chicago. Held in as high esteem by architects abroad as in his native land, he has been awarded honorary memberships from architecture societies in Canada, Mexico, Bulgaria, and Spain.

He was instrumental in establishing the criteria, process, and procedures to establish a Gold Medal Award program for the UIA

In describing Vosbeck’s role in international relations, Vassillis Sgoutas, Hon, FAIA, past president of the International Union of Architects, wrote: “The significance of Randy Vosbeck’s international presence is difficult to put on paper because many of the benefits were in fact intangible. In a unique way he established, and more importantly maintained, links with many architects and architects institutes throughout the world . . . And it has won him many friends . . . But it has also won many friends for the AIA and the United States.”

Accolades from all corners
Vosbeck’s contributions to the Institute, profession, and his community have also earned him numerous awards. To name a few:

  • AIA Fellowship (1978)
  • George Washington Leadership Award, Alexandria (Va.) Chamber of Commerce (1980)
  • Award of Honor, Northern Virginia AIA (1982)
  • William C. Noland Award, Virginia Society of Architects (1983)
  • Honorary membership, Society of Architectural Administrators (1986)
  • Academician, The International Academy of Architecture (1987)
  • Alumni Achievement Award, University of Minnesota College of Architecture and Landscape Architecture (2001).

Vosbeck shows no sign of resting on his laurels

Vosbeck also shows no sign of resting on his laurels. He currently is serving on the AIA Secretary’s Advisory Committee, sits on the AIA 150 Executive Committee, and is busy writing a book, The Presidents of the American Institute of Architects. “As if . . . all of his remarkable accomplishments of the AIA over more than 25 years were not enough, his current task to create a comprehensive history of the Institute’s 82 presidents is but another example of deep dedication to one’s profession,” writes 2001 AIA President John D. Anderson, FAIA, who currently works on the AIA150 Executive Committee with Vosbeck. “This was his idea alone and another selfless gift to all of us for which we owe him a debt that can only partially be repaid by awarding him the Kemper.”

In his own words
“I found that retirement was not an end, but a beginning of another phase of my life,” Vosbeck said recently when asked about the source of his endless energy. “It’s different than practice and yet still involves active participation and service. And it’s the love of the profession that keeps pushing you. Just yesterday, while researching in the AIA Archives, I came across the inaugural speech I gave when I became AIA president. I’d said that my work within the AIA to that point had made me a better person, a better architect, and more cognizant of service to community. And it’s true.”

—SS and DG

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