The Colorado Fellows Book - Introduction

Phillip H. Gerou, FAIA / June 2008

As Odysseus was preparing to leave for Troy, he appointed a custodian for his household. For years this guardian was a faithful friend, teacher and surrogate father to Odysseus’ son, Telemachus. This mythical figure was named Mentor.

Professional growth depends upon a quality education and comprehensive experience. Exceptional development requires something more—a mentor, or ideally, a number of mentors—because no one individual can define your particular path. Each of us can identify mentors in our own lives: parents, teachers, friends, colleagues. Professionally, we look to those who have gone before us, creating model practices and achieving personal distinction. In the architectural community (and more specifically, within the American Institute of Architects), these individuals sometimes are distinguished by election to the AIA College of Fellows.

AIA Fellowship recognizes an exemplary career with a broad impact on the profession—in design, preservation, planning, practice management, service to the profession through the AIA or other organizations, service to society or humanity—or a combination of these efforts. Their impact usually extends well beyond local boundaries to regional or national influence.

Each year, less than one-tenth of one percent of the AIA’s membership are elected to the AIA College of Fellows. In Colorado, the College of Fellows is represented by fewer than 50 architects. In this book, most of that group has volunteered to share their personal perspectives and experience on a wide spectrum of subject matter. Although some of these Fellows have been recognized for their achievements at the end of their careers, most still are practicing architects.

This publication offers insights into the values, dreams, inspirations and motivations behind their achievements. No two stories are the same. In fact, as you will see, the range of interests, motivations and styles is somewhat extraordinary. 

Too often, we simply mourn the loss of a lifetime of experience, a career of excellence, a life well spent. We regret not asking the important questions or creating a public venue for them: What drove you to succeed? What was the dominant force (or values or persons) behind your achievements? What advice would you give a young professional with similar aspirations? Did you aspire to success or did it just happen? What’s your proudest accomplishment? Where have you found moral, ethical or spiritual guidance? What is necessary for a person to achieve success and personal fulfillment? What would you like others to know that you’ve never had the chance to say? What would you still like to accomplish? If you could do it all again, what would you change and what would you approach the same way?

A single essay cannot communicate a lifetime of experience. We cannot expect answers to all our questions. But here we have the opportunity to catch a glimpse, the merest suggestion, of what motivates this select group of architects; what gives meaning to their lives—as architects, Coloradans, employers, parents, mentors and people.

What you hold in your hands is a gift from some of our state's best designers and mentors. The architects represented in these pages offered these musings freely, with no expectations of compensation. But if you find wisdom or humor or inspiration here, you are Zommended to put it to good use. That is the sincerest form of appreciation any mentor could hope for.

All proceeds from this publication are being donated to the AIA Colorado College of Fellows Scholarship Fund for the advancement and future of the profession within Colorado.