Chester A. Widom, FAIA, Honored with the 2011 American Institute of Architects’ Edward C. Kemper Award for Service to the Profession
Last Updated: January 5, 2011
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Award recognizes significant contributions to the profession
Washington, D.C. - December 17, 2010 - The AIA Board of Directors elected Chester (Chet) A. Widom, FAIA, as the 2011 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. Widom will be honored at the 2011 AIA National Convention in New Orleans.
As founding partner of the Southern California-based WWCOT, Widom, spent more than 40 years at the helm of his firm before retiring in 2008. Parallel to his architectural practice, Widom has built a legacy that friends and collaborators often describe as "visionary." Throughout his entire career, he has worked to demonstrate that architects can be exemplary civic leaders with an intimate understanding of how schools, cities, and the entire public sector can empower and uplift communities.
Widom's service to the AIA began in 1982, when he was secretary of the Los Angeles chapter. Since then he's occupied positions with the AIA California Council, including serving as its president in 1989, and currently as chairman of its Capitol Forum, a group composed of leading member firms that have made a significant financial commitment to advance advocacy, thought leadership, and research initiatives. Beyond the California Council, Widom rose through AIA national leadership, serving on the External Affairs and Professional Excellence Commissions, on special task forces focused on issues such as education or construction documents, and as chair of the National AIA/Associated General Contractors of America Joint Conference. Eventually he became regional director, vice president, and ultimately president of the AIA in 1995.
Under his leadership, the 1995 national convention focused on changes emerging in project delivery methods. Widom's attention to this subject ultimately resulted in the "Project Delivery Manual," published by AIA California Council, which provides a thorough description of eight delivery methods. The manual has served as a guide for clients, contractors, and architects for more than a decade. In its introduction the manual recognizes Widom for having led the AIA in "shedding its past protection of the traditional method" in order to focus, instead, on encouraging members to deliver services using the delivery method most appropriate for each project.
After he left his practice in 2008, Widom became senior architectural advisor to the Los Angeles Community College District (LACCD), a position he still holds. Widom has been actively involved in many state and local commissions, including the California State Hospital Building and Safety Board, the Los Angeles City Planning and Building and Safety commissions, the Los Angeles Unified School District Bond Oversight Committee and numerous city task forces. Noting his many civic commitments, Ronald Skaggs, FAIA, a former AIA president, describes him as a "Citizen Architect,"--"in every sense of the word."
In her nomination letter, Pamela M. Touschner, FAIA, compares Widom, whom she has known for 17 years as an employee, partner and friend, to one of the most spectacular engineering feats of the 20th century. "Chet's service to the profession through AIA is reminiscent of the Concorde," she wrote. "A product of supreme inspiration, bold vision, mind-boggling collaboration, and innovation--a creation years ahead of its time that moved at the speed of sound."
Past winners of the Edward C. Kemper Award have been William Perkins, FAIA (1950), Norman Koonce, FAIA (1998), Norbert Young, FAIA (2005), Barbara Nadel, FAIA (2009) and James Logan Abell, FAIA (2010).
About The American Institute of Architects
For over 150 years, members of the American Institute of Architects have worked with each other and their communities to create more valuable, healthy, secure, and sustainable buildings and cityscapes. Members adhere to a code of ethics and professional conduct to ensure the highest standards in professional practice. Embracing their responsibility to serve society, AIA members engage civic and government leaders and the public in helping find needed solutions to pressing issues facing our communities, institutions, nation and world. Visit www.aia.org. Twitter: http://twitter.com/AIA_Media