2015 Distinguished Alumni Awards

On March 7, 2015, at the 6th annual Berkeley Circus Soiree, CED celebrated the achievements of three remarkable alumni with the 2015 Distinguished Alumni Awards. Kofi Bonner, Daniel Iacofano, and Allison Williams FAIA join an elite cadre of over 70 previously recognized alumni from the departments of Architecture, City & Regional Planning, Decorative Art/Design, and Landscape Architecture & Environmental Planning.

Each year, since 1998, CED has honored a select few outstanding professionals who have made notable accomplishments in their careers. It was with pride that Dean Jennifer Wolch presented awards to this year’s distinguished honorees during the March 7th ceremony at the California Memorial Stadium’s University Club.

Kofi Bonner (M.C.P. 1986, M.Arch. 1987)
President, Lennar Urban

Kofi Bonner
Kofi Bonner

Born in Ghana, Kofi Bonner is responsible for a number of development projects that promise to significantly transform aging industrial sections of the Bay Area into thriving urban communities. The redevelopment plan for Treasure Island in San Francisco Bay received the Clinton Global Initiative Sustainable Development Award. His current project, The Hunters Point Shipyard-Candlestick Point revitalization — possibly the largest mixed-use urban redevelopment project in the country — was honored with a Grand Award from the Pacific Coast Building Council, the Best Land Plan 2010.

Throughout his career Bonner’s roles in major redevelopment initiatives have led to the revitalization and economic growth of areas including Emeryville, Oakland’s downtown neighborhood, and San Francisco’s Mission Bay. Bonner served as Chief Economic Policy Advisor under Mayor Willie Brown, and from 1998 through 2004, was the Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer for the Cleveland Browns. Kofi Bonner currently serves as President of Lennar Urban, overseeing all land acquisition and urban development activities in Northern California.

Professor and Chair of City & Regional Planning Paul Waddell noted, “Kofi Bonner has been a major force in the planning and revitalization of key Bay Area urban neighborhoods. His accomplishments are a credit to planning practice and an inspiration to students and practitioners in our field.”

Candlestick Point Revitalization Rendering
Candlestick Point Revitalization Rendering Enlarge [+]
Treasure Island Redevelopment
Treasure Island Redevelopment in San Francisco Bay Enlarge [+]

Daniel Iacofano (PH.D. Environmental Planning, 1986)
Founding Principal, MIG Inc.

Daniel Iacofano
Daniel Iacofano

Daniel Iacofano is a founding principal of MIG, Inc., known worldwide for its results-oriented creative projects and innovative research and development initiatives that enhance community livability, support revitalization, and connect people with places.

His award-winning projects — addressing issues in dense urban planning and community design and transit-oriented development — have included campus development plans for UC San Francisco’s new Mission Bay Campus, the University of California at Davis, and California State University at Monterey Bay; the Napa River Flood Protection Project, which will provide flood protection to much of the City of Napa; and an unprecedented health and wellness element for the City of Richmond’s General Plan.

Iacofano is the author of Public Involvement as an Organizational Development Process (1990), Meeting of the Minds (2001), The Inclusive City: Design Solutions for Buildings, Neighborhoods and Urban Spaces (2007), and What is Your Construction Management EQ (2014).

“We are privileged to honor our colleague Dan Iacofano for his groundbreaking work in engaging communities in the planning and design of vital and equitable environments in which to live, work, and play,” said Louise Mozingo, Professor and Chair of Landscape Architecture & Environmental Planning. “His advocacy for effective citizen collaborations has transformed the design and planning professions and public policy. He is an outstanding example of the CED legacy of social responsibility.”

UC Davis Long Range Development
University of California, Davis Long Range Development Plan Enlarge [+]
Publications by Daniel Iacofano
Publications by Daniel Iacofano Enlarge [+]

Allison Williams, FAIA (M.Arch. 1976)
Vice President and Director of Design , AECOM

Allison Williams
Allison Williams, FAIA

Allison Williams is Vice President and Design Director at AECOM, leading the Western Region practice and the San Francisco studio. Her portfolio of award-winning work spans the globe comprising civic, corporate, and cultural facilities; places for research and education; and mixed-used and high-density urban development. Notable projects include: CREATE (Campus for Research Excellence and Technological Enterprise) a 690,000 GSF Greenmark Platinum research campus and innovation hub in Singapore; the Princess Nora Abdulrahman University (PNU) Health Sciences and Research Campus in Riyadh Saudi Arabia (for 40,000 Islamic Women); the acclaimed San Francisco International Terminal; and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Computational Research Theory Facility, slated to complete early this year.

In 1997, Williams was elevated to Fellow of the American Institute of Architects. She is a current member of the Harvard Graduate School of Design Visiting Committee and on the Board of Directors of SPUR.

Professor and Chair of Architecture, Tom Buresh, acknowledged William’s contributions, saying, “Allison William’s talent, vision, and leadership in design and education, and her significant body of work place her in a category unmatched by others. She is a singular and exceptional model of CED Architecture alumni achievement.”

CREATE (Campus for Research Excellence and Technological Enterprise), Singapore Enlarge [+]
Princess Nora Abdulrahman University
Princess Nora Abdulrahman University (PNU) Health Sciences and Research Campus, Riyadhs Saudi Arabia Enlarge [+]

2014 Distinguished Alumni Awards

Each year CED honors a select few outstanding alumni who have made significant contributions in their professional careers. Since 1998, 68 alumni of the departments of Architecture, City & Regional Planning, Decorative Art/Design, and Landscape Architecture & Environmental Planning have been recognized for their achievements.

This year the college celebrated the remarkable accomplishments of Meric Gertler, Gwendolyn Wright, and Mark Francis, FASLA, with the 2014 Distinguished Alumni Award during the fourth annual Berkeley Circus Soirée. On March 14, Dean Jennifer Wolch presented the honors at a ceremony held in the skybox of California Memorial Stadium.

Meric Gertler (MCP, 1979)
President, University of Toronto

Professor Meric Gertler
Professor Meric Gertler Enlarge [+]

Professor Meric Gertler is internationally renowned for his research on the geographical underpinnings of innovative activity and the economic dynamics of city-regions. In 2013, Professor Gertler began his term as the 16th President of the University of Toronto after having previously served for five years as Dean of the University’s Faculty of Arts & Science division where his research has been responsible for $8.4 million in external funding to the University.

Gertler’s numerous accolades include the 2007 Award for Scholarly Distinction from the Canadian Association of Geographers, the 2014 Distinguished Scholarship Honors from the Association of American Geographers, and an honorary doctor of philosophy from Lund University, Sweden.

Manufacturing Culture — The Institutional Geography of Industrial Practice by Meric Gertler

As author of seven books and more than 80 journal articles and book chapters, and co-editor of the widely used Oxford Handbook of Economic Geography, Gertler is one of the world’s most highly cited scholars in economic geography and planning. Professor Gertler has served as an advisor to local, regional and national governments in Canada, the United States, and Europe, as well as to international agencies such as the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (Paris) and the European Union.

According to Paul Waddell, Professor and Chair of City & Regional Planning, “Meric Gertler’s accomplishments are the epitome of what we strive for our field, and have had enormous impact on theory as well as on urban policy and planning practice.” Jennifer Wolch, William W. Wurster Dean and also a Professor of City & Regional Planning, adds. “We’re so pleased to able to honor Meric Gertler with the highest award bestowed to an alumnus by the college, and incredibly proud to see such a remarkable graduate of the Department of City & Regional Planning leading one of the world’s most renowned research universities.”

Gwendolyn Wright (M.Arch., 1974; PhD.Arch, 1978)
Professor of Architecture, Columbia University

Professor Gwendolyn Wright
Professor Gwendolyn Wright Enlarge [+]

Gwendolyn Wright is Professor of Architecture in Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, where in 1986 she became the first tenured woman in the school. Wright is perhaps more widely known as a recent co-host since 2001 of the popular PBS television series, “History Detectives.”

Wright has received numerous accolades for her work focusing on the interconnections between architecture, urbanism, and political culture from the late-19th century to the present. She has been honored with fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Getty Center for the History of Art and the Humanities, the Beverly Willis Architecture Foundation, the Ford Foundation, and other notable institutions. In 1985 she was elected a Fellow of the Society of American Historians, and was also made a Fellow of the Society of Architectural Historians, the highest honor in that field.

USA—Modern Architectures in History by Gwendolyn Wright

Wright is the author or editor of six major books including Modern Architectures in History (2008). Her many articles have appeared in scholarly books and journals as well as newspapers around the world.

Chair of Architecture and Eva Li Chair of Design Ethics at CED, Professor Tom Buresh said of Wright’s contributions, “Gwendolyn Wright is an author and scholar of the highest order. Her work spans architecture and urbanism from the late-nineteenth century to the present day and is appreciated by a diverse audience. She represents in body and deed the very best of Berkeley’s architecture department.”

Mark Francis (B.A. Landscape Architecture, 1972)
Professor Emeritus, Landscape Architecture and Environmental Design, UC Davis

Professor Emeritus Mark Francis
Professor Emeritus Mark Francis Enlarge [+]

Mark Francis’s work centers on participatory landscapes at the intersections of landscape architecture, environmental psychology, geography, art, and urban design. He is Professor Emeritus and past Chair of Landscape Architecture at UC Davis where he founded and directed the Center for Design Research for twenty years, and is also founding partner of the firm CoDesign/MIG.

Francis has been honored with over a dozen awards for his research, writing, planning, and design. In 1999 the American Society of Landscape Architects awarded him the Centennial Medallion for the Davis Central Park and Farmer’s Market, cited as one of the most significant designed landscapes of the past 100 years. He is the only person to receive ASLA professional awards in all four categories of design, urban design and planning, communication, and research.

In addition to receiving the Ralph Hudson Environmental Fellowship, Francis was elected a Fellow of the American Society of Landscape Architects, Fellow of the Institute for Urban Design in New York City, and Fellow of the Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture. He is the author of six books including The Meaning of Gardens (MIT Press 1990) and over 70 articles.

“We are delighted to celebrate Mark Francis’s remarkable, multi-faceted, career as an advocate, educator, practitioner and researcher,” said Professor Louise Mozingo, Chair of Landscape Architecture & Environmental Planning and Urban Design at CED. “His work has inspired his colleagues and students, illuminated the profession, and made communities better places to live.”

Central Park Gardens/“Garden in a Park” in Davis, CA
Central Park Gardens/“Garden in a Park” in Davis, CA Enlarge [+]

Kris Yao: Art, Technology, and a Little Luck

Renowned Taiwanese architect Kris Yao (M.Arch ’78) admits that he was lucky. As a young student entering Tunghai University and forced to choose a path, rather than pursue the expected routes of science or engineering, he decided to test for architecture and as luck would have it, discovered his passion.
Kris Yao
Kris Yao Enlarge [+]

Born and raised in Taipei, Kris Yao is one of Taiwan’s most highly regarded architects. He has won numerous awards including the National Award for Arts and Architecture — the highest honor in cultural and art disciplines in Taiwan. In 2002, Kris Yao represented Taiwan in the 8th International Architecture Exhibition at the Venice Biennale and was invited again in 2008. In 2004, Yao was asked to present his project, the THSR Hsinchu Station, at the 1st International Architecture Biennale in Rotterdam, and also exhibited work at the 1st International Architecture Biennale in Beijing, China. Most recently, Yao received the Architizer A+ Award for his China Steel Corporation Headquarters in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. The College of Environmental Design recognized Yao with the Distinguished Alumni Award in 2005.

China Steel Corporation
China Steel Corporation Photography Jeffrey Cheng Enlarge [+]

Yao’s works include an enormous array of building types: corporate/industrial, residential, cultural, educational, medical, retail, and transportation. He is also known for his superb interior architecture. But he maintains a special passion for cultural and historically related projects, as well as projects that involve complex technology. As someone who spends more than his share of time traveling, Yao admits that he’d love to design an airport. This passion for art and technology in fact inspired the name of his firm, Artech Architects. Headquartered in Taipei with another office in Shanghai, the firm currently employs over 160 people.

Luck also played a role in Yao’s advanced education. While he applied to a variety of institutions in pursuit of his masters degree, Yao explains with a smile that he didn’t really chose Berkeley; Berkeley chose him.

Having never before visited the U.S., Yao was captivated by the free exchange of ideas, the diversity, and the lack of hierarchy that he encountered when he arrived on campus — a unique character unlike anything he previously experienced in Taiwan. He went on to receive his Masters of Architecture from CED in 1978.

Since then, Yao has maintained close ties with CED and has been a generous supporter of the college and campus, including contributions to the campaign for Wurster Hall, leading the Berkeley Taiwan Alumni Club, and sponsoring the recent 2012 Shanghai Berkeley Ball.

During his thesis work, Yao interviewed diverse interest groups and individuals, giving him the opportunity to immerse himself in the local community and American culture. While he’d always been interested in how design happens, his CED experience helped him more deeply understand the personal, social and political dynamics that shape design.

This relationship of the person to the built environment remains central to Yao’s work. He views architecture as a theatrical stage for the people who interact with the space. Comparing architecture to story-telling, he strives to communicate an experience that people can relate to — that although it may be like nothing they’ve ever before seen, there nevertheless should be a familiarity that touches the heart.

These concepts are perhaps no better exemplified than in Yao’s Wuzhen Grand Theater in the surreal water village of Zhejiang in southern China, where visitors arrive by wooden boats or on foot from an island across a bridge. The building, set to complete in May 2013, uses familiar local materials: reclaimed wood forms a graceful lattice across a fan-shaped glass facade and ancient massive bricks from the city wall clad another portion of the exterior.

Wuzhen Theater
Wuzhen Theater Enlarge [+]
Wuzhen Theater
Wuzhen Theater Enlarge [+]

For Yao, three things are vitally important in the design of a building: response to locality, craftsmanship and refined attention to the way a building is put together. In the design of the Wuzhen Theater, these values come together to create a structure that, though massive and modern, feels almost hand-made.

Buddhism also plays an important role in Yao’s work and his life. While Yao doesn’t adhere to a particular design philosophy, he likens his approach to the Zen art of “direct seeing.” This approach undoubtedly contributed to the design of the recently completed Water-Moon Monastery in Taipei where Master Sheng Yen imparted his vision for the building in six words: Flower in space, Moon in water. With this guiding principle, Yao created a design that reduces color and form to a minimum, conveying the spirit of Zen Buddhism. Yao used an innovative technique to void cast a Zen sutra in prefabricated GRC panels, painting the scripture in sunlight onto the interior surfaces.

Water-Moon Monastery
Water-Moon Monastery Photography Jeffrey Cheng Enlarge [+]
Water-Moon Monastery
Water-Moon Monastery Photography Jeffrey Cheng Enlarge [+]

Kris Yao looks with gratitude to Berkeley and the College of Environmental Design for the wisdom and experiences that have contributed to his success, “It’s a wonderful university that benefits many. I loved being a part of it.”

Dean Jennifer Wolch acknowledged Yao’s generosity, “Kris’s wonderful support over the years is greatly appreciated. We’re definitely lucky that Kris chose us.”

Lanyang Museum
Lanyang Museum Photography Jeffrey Cheng Enlarge [+]
Lanyang Museum
Lanyang Museum Photography Jeffrey Cheng Enlarge [+]
Building in Bhutan
Bhutan. One of 4 small buildings using only traditional materials: earth, timber, stone, and slate. Enlarge [+]
Building in Bhutan
Bhutan. Traditional materials with a modern aesthetic. Enlarge [+]