George Acock Elevated to American Institute of Architects College of Fellows

The 2015 Jury of Fellows of the American Institute of Architects has elevated George Acock (BARCH ’63) to its prestigious College of Fellows, an honor awarded to members who have made significant contributions to the profession. Acock was honored in May at an investiture ceremony at the 2015 National AIA Convention and Design Exposition in Atlanta. The Fellowship program was developed to elevate those architects who have made a significant contribution to architecture and society and who have achieved a standard of excellence in the profession. Election to fellowship not only recognizes the achievements of architects as individuals, but also their significant contribution to architecture and society on a national level.

George Acock has led crucial Central Ohio neighborhood and architectural projects that embody the highest purposes of education, commerce and culture. Where others saw only neglected and abandoned neighborhoods, George discovered innovative ways to spark the transformation of urban cityscapes. His leadership and vision made George one of the most influential and respected architects in the community. As a member of the Grandview Heights Planning Commission, George helped to give Grandview a new vibrancy that attracts families and young professionals alike. He also was an influential member of the team that planned Grandview Yard, a mixed-used development including businesses, restaurants, hospitals and luxury living on more than 100 acres. George became the driving volunteer force behind the ongoing renewal of the Columbus College of Art and Design, serving as a partner to the college’s president to realize a campus master plan that expresses the college's creative visual personality. Serving on the CCAD board of trustees for nearly a decade, George helped establish guidelines for new campus housing, classroom space and student life areas. Meanwhile, he helped the college collaborate with community leaders as the surrounding Discovery District grew to become a vibrant place to live, work, play and shop – and a model for architects and urban planners nationwide. Perhaps his greatest neighborhood achievement in a volunteer capacity is the Arena District, just north of downtown Columbus, where George was a persistent voice in urging Nationwide Realty Investors, Ltd. to invest in an area once marked only by the forbidding ruins of the Ohio Penitentiary. Inspiring others with a clear vision for what the Arena District could become, he was the first to renovate an existing building there for his own firm’s offices. Small-scale red brick roads and renovated structures inspired a generation of Arena District development, including homes for the National Hockey League’s Columbus Blue Jackets, the award-winning Huntington Park of the Columbus Clippers in Triple-A baseball, and scores of restaurants, entertainment venues, offices and condominiums.

In 2002, the Columbus City Schools embarked on a 15-year project to renovate or replace more than 140 school buildings, of which 56 were historic structures. In partnership with the Columbus Landmarks Foundation, the district analyzed 10 of the historic schools to determine the viability of renovating versus replacing them. George served on a task force of local architects charged with completing this study and making a recommendation to the school district. Ultimately, the task force was instrumental in persuading the district to retain nine of the buildings that had been slated for demolition and replacement. George's watercolor renderings of their potential futures helped make the case for preservation; many of the renovations are now completed. In 2008, George's commitment to the community and its public schools continued with his appointment to the Neighborhood Schools Development Partnership, an advisory panel tasked with overseeing the district's massive building program. Since then, George's leadership on the NSDP has been critical to the district's efforts to consistently raise the quality of design in our urban school buildings. With George joining the team as the design critic and adviser, the projects successfully moved through design and construction. Six schools have now received LEED certification.

As a proud 1963 graduate of the Knowlton School, George has continually given back to Ohio State and its students. He has elevated the reputation, success and vitality of the Knowlton School by serving as a student, teacher, philanthropist/fund-raiser, program designer and mentor. His has regularly served as a panelist on studio reviews and provided real-world program opportunities and projects for student de- sign studio programs. With a deep belief in the value of broad cultural exchange and real architectural experiences, he worked to establish the Knowlton School's Italy Program, traveling there with students to absorb the influence of ancient, Medieval and Renaissance masters. As a fund-raiser in 2000, he exhibited and sold 140 of his own watercolor paintings to help endow the George Acock '63 Traveling Scholarship for Knowlton students. However, George’s contributions to the university extend beyond the school of architecture. He has designed numerous campus buildings and led renovation of the William Oxley Thompson Memorial Library, an 11-year project that transformed classic library spaces into unified components of a contemporary information and learning center. He has conceptualized and revolutionized OSU student living structures to provide stimulating and interactive environments that allow living and learning to converge at will for a diverse range of faculty and students. He also personally participated in a number of campaigns to raise funds for the Thompson Library and other university fundraising causes, donating many of his own watercolors of campus buildings as part of fundraising activities.

For 2015, Acock was joined by Knowlton School Director Mike Cadwell in being elevated to the AIS’s College of Fellows. In 2014, two other Columbus architects, Tim Hawk (BSARCH ’86, MARCH ’89) and Doug Parris received this honor.

Members of the 2015 fellows jury were John J. Castellana, FAIA, Chair – Bloomfield Hills, Mich. (TMP Architecture, Inc.); Steve Crane, FAIA – Salt Lake City (VCBO); Brian P. Dougherty, FAIA – Costa Mesa, Calif. (Dougherty + Doughtery Architects, LLP); Diane Georgopulos, FAIA – Cambridge, Masss (Massachusetts Housing Finance Agency) ; Mary Katherine Lanzillotta, FAIA – Washington, D.C. (Hartman Cox Architects); Kenneth Schwartz, FAIA – New Orleans (Tulane University); Donald T. Yoshino, FAIA – Boca Raton, Fla. (Yoshino Architecture, PA).