January 11, 2008
  A Tribute to George M. Notter, 1933–2007
AIA loses a great friend and leader

Summary: George M. Notter Jr., FAIA, the 60th president of the AIA, died December 26. He was 74.

“The Institute mourns the loss of an inspired architect, teacher, writer, and leader of the profession and honors the rich legacy this remarkable man has left behind,” wrote AIA Executive Vice President/CEO Chris McEntee in tribute.

A founding principal of the firm Anderson Notter Finegold, which later became Notter Finegold & Alexander, he was a leader in planning related to urban areas, the design of new structures in urban areas, and the adaptive use and preservation of historic buildings and districts. Nationally known as a pioneering preservationist and creative enthusiast of adaptive use, Notter is also recognized as an early advocate of sustainability and urban regeneration.

An active member of the AIA since the mid-1960s, shortly after his architecture registration, Notter quickly became passionately involved in the life of his professional community, first as a member of the Boston Society of Architects’ Professional Services Committee between 1968 and 1972, then in elected leadership roles with the Boston Society of Architects and the Massachusetts State Association of Architects.

He represented the AIA New England Region on the national AIA Board from 1977 to 1980. As national AIA vice president in 1981, Notter chaired a national conference in Denver, “Designing for Energy,” playing a key role in placing the AIA at the forefront of the energy-conservation movement in design and construction.

A champion for public involvement
An eloquent advocate for public outreach, he also encouraged greater interaction between architects and the public. At the AIA 125th anniversary convention in Hawaii in 1982, he ran successfully for the AIA presidency and subsequently chose “American Architecture & Its Public” as the theme for the AIA 1984 National Convention, over which he presided. As he told Engineering News Record shortly after assuming the AIA presidency: “When the public begins to share in the design experience and understands what architects do, then they’ll want more of it, I’m sure.”

He carried this public celebration of the built environment through in his professional career as well, serving as principal in charge for such notable projects as:

  • Old Boston City Hall, Boston (AIA National Honor Award for Extended Use-1976)
  • Worcester, Mass., Mechanics Hall (AIA National Honor Award for Extended Use-1979)
  • North and Cabot Houses, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.
  • INTELSET Headquarters, Washington, D.C.
  • Old Auditors’ Building renovation, Washington, D.C.
  • Ariel Rios Building renovation, Washington, D.C.
  • Historic Preservation Consultant for Pennsylvania Avenue Development Corp., Washington, D.C.
  • Russell Senate Office Building Renovation and Expansion Study, Washington, D.C.
  • Union Railroad Station, New London, Conn. (DOT Award for Design Excellence-1980)
  • International Cultural and Trade Center Master Plan, Washington, D.C.
  • Charleston Naval Shipyard Master Development Plan, Boston
  • Ellis Island renovation, New York City.

His civic and community contributions also showed his deep commitment to and involvement in historic preservation. He was the 1978 president of the Society for Industrial Archeology, a faculty member of the Smithsonian Resident Associates Program, and an involved member of the:

  • Beacon Hill Architectural Commission
  • National Trust for Historic Preservation
  • Partners for Livable Spaces
  • Society of Architectural Historians
  • Society of Preservation of New England Antiquities
  • Victorian Society.

Elevated to AIA Fellowship in 1978, Notter was also an Honorary Fellow in the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada and a Member of Honor of La Federacion de Collegios de Arquitectos de la Republica Mexicana. He is survived by his wife, Bett, and two sons, David and Jamie.

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Additional details can be found on a blog written by George Notter’s son, Jamie.