John Syvertsen, FAIA, to Receive 2019 AIA Chicago Lifetime Achievement Award


A Lifetime of Civic Service

John Syvertsen, FAIA, will receive AIA Chicago’s 2019 Lifetime Achievement Award, celebrating his career in architecture and service to the future of the profession

AIA Chicago’s Board of Directors has selected John Syvertsen, FAIA, to receive the 2019 Lifetime Achievement Award. In his career, Syvertsen has distinguished himself through his work as an architect and firm leader, as a leader in community outreach, social impact, and environmental sustainability, and through his professorship at colleges and universities across the country.

For ten years Syvertsen was President of OWP/P Architects. He led the merger with CannonDesign where he co-founded the Open Hand Studio dedicated to public interest design and was a member of the Executive Leadership Team. Since 2015 he has dedicated his career full-time in support of several nonprofit organizations.

“John is the model example of a leader – he’s a true gentleman that possesses poise and humility, but makes the tough decisions when needed,” said Andrew Balster, Assoc. AIA, Office Practice Leader of CannonDesign’s Chicago office. “As a mentor, he holds a deep sense of responsibility to ensure future generations not only achieve their greatest potential but that they also contribute to society as a whole. It’s humbling to be able to say I experienced the workplace and culture he helped define.”

Civic engagement is a hallmark of Syvertsen’s philosophy. He has served as Chair of the American Institute of Architects National Committee on Design, as President of the Graham Foundation for Advanced Study in the Arts, as President of AIA Chicago (1996), as Chair of the Board of Regents of the American Architectural Foundation and as Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Chicago Architecture Foundation. He currently serves as Chair of the Board of Directors of Archeworks, an alternative, socially-focused design educator. In 2006, Syvertsen was the inaugural recipient of the AIA Illinois Gold Medal in recognition of a career of service.

A 1986 Loeb Fellow in Advanced Environmental Studies at Harvard University Graduate School of Design, Syvertsen is currently teaching as an adjunct professor at the Illinois Institute of Technology.

John joins individuals such as Carol Ross Barney, FAIA, Peter Landon, FAIA, Stanley Tigerman, FAIA, Ben Weese, FAIA, Helmut Jahn, FAIA, Gertrude Lempp Kerbis, FAIA, and Natalie De Blois, FAIA in a roster of architects and architectural advocates awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by AIA Chicago.

Syvertsen will receive the award on October 25 at Designight 2019, celebrating AIA Chicago’s 150th anniversary and the 2019 recipients of the Design Excellence Awards. You can join us in congratulations John at the event by purchasing your tickets or tables here.