Olson Kundig Architects
2012 AIA Seattle Honor Award
Photo Credit: Dwight Eschliman, Benjamin Benschneider
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Johnpaul Jones FAIA (BArch U. of Oregon 1967), a Native American Indian (Choctaw/Cherokee) born in Okmulgee, Oklahoma July 24, 1941, has created a nationally significant legacy of projects that honor the land and cultural heritage, while nurturing a culture of professional inclusiveness based on regard for the human spirit.
Johnpaul takes his strength and guidance from the land – a design philosophy which he attributes to his roots in the Choctaw/Cherokee tradition. His designs for museums, cultural centers, and zoological facilities, including influential work at the highly-regarded San Diego Zoo and Seattle's Woodland Park Zoo, have won recognition for heightening human sensitivity to cultural and environmental issues.
As a Founding Principal (1972) of Seattle-based Jones & Jones Architects and Landscape Architects – honored in 2003 as the first recipient of the ASLA Landscape Architecture Firm Award – Johnpaul has contributed to the quiet alteration of the direction of zoological design beginning in the late 1970s. With his co-principals and clients including San Diego Zoo, he has helped foster an integrated approach to built environments and the conservation of natural resources, further educating the public about how we all must live with nature. His designs have won recognition for heightening human sensitivity to cultural and environmental issues.
An area of concentration involves the interpretation of indigenous peoples' values, ways, and beliefs in creating projects celebrating Native American Indian cultures. Johnpaul has worked closely with Native American tribes throughout the US, incorporating their architectural and cultural heritage into the structures designed specifically to honor them. This direction had a special culmination in Johnpaul's design leadership with others over the dozen years of effort to realize the National Museum of the American Indian, which opened on the Mall in Washington, DC on September 21, 2004.
Johnpaul's design philosophy grew from his Native American heritage, and he returns that gift by volunteering with Native American tribes and mentoring young Native Americans and others of diverse and disadvantaged backgrounds to enter the design field. As a Founding Member of the AIA Seattle Diversity Roundtable, Johnpaul has offered a consistently strong, thoughtful example of inclusiveness in practice, and has helped many people of "different" backgrounds find their place in architecture and design.
In describing his qualifications for AIA Seattle's highest honor, nominators noted:
"In a 30-year career recently highlighted by the 2004 opening of the long-awaited National Museum of the American Indian, Johnpaul Jones has created a special presence for the human spirit on the land, in both structures and the design professional culture. As Senator Dan Inouye recognized in his remarks at the Museum's grand opening, the design of the building in itself addresses dire social issues, laying the groundwork for healing long-standing injustices to the nation's first citizens. In his work and otherwise, Johnpaul takes his strength and guidance from the land – a design philosophy and a way of life which he attributes to his own roots in the Cherokee/Choctaw tradition.
"His designs as one of the founders of Seattle-based Jones and Jones for museums, cultural centers, and zoological facilities, including influential work at the highly-regarded San Diego Zoo and Seattle's Woodland Park Zoo, have won recognition for heightening human sensitivity to cultural and environmental issues.
"In a front-page article in The Seattle Times 9/21/04 ('Architect helped create a place for Indians to share their stories'), staff reporter Sara Jean Green notes: 'Jones doesn't just build buildings. He creates environments following holistic instincts, so his designs encompass both the practical and the spiritual.' She goes on, 'One of maybe 100 American Indians architects in the country, Jones helped lead a movement to diversify Seattle's architectural and design community [beginning] in the mid-1980s.'
"His activism has attracted and encouraged many people of 'different' backgrounds to consider and pursue design as a career, and to apply his example of design as a tool for healing and advancing community.
"Nominators note that Johnpaul Jones's profound influence on the profession originates in his own humanity. His modest and gentle manner underlies enormous strength of character, while his profound idealism fires his passion to achieve an architecture embracing a rich cultural diversity. Quiet and unassuming yet with a uniquely commanding presence, he lets the power of design speak through him. Not only his AIA Seattle colleagues but also the millions who visit projects touched by his unique vision benefit by the work and the example of this remarkable architect, who upholds our profession's highest aspirations to design excellence and social relevance."
Other honors to Johnpaul include the Lawrence Medal, presented by the University of Oregon's School of Architecture and Allied Arts. The School cited Johnpaul Jones as the first recipient of its highest honor to a distinguished alumnus, "in recognition that his accomplishments transcend architecture, landscape architecture, and historic preservation, and with enduring respect for his dedication to practice and to a life that honors social and cultural integrity at their foundation."
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Articles about Johnpaul Jones and his work:
•11/05: Groundbreaking of the Land Bridge connecting the Columbia River and the Klickitat Trail Vancouver, part of the Confluence Project
•9/21/04 The Seattle Times front-page article by Sara Jean Green: "Architect helped create place for Indians to share their stories"
•9/21/04 Architectural Record, by Andrea Oppenheimer Dean: "National Museum of the American Indian Opens in Washington, DC"
•The Seattle Times 9/25/03: "Local firm presents 3 designs for land-bridge project"
•The Seattle Times 7/20/03: "Indians achieve a dream: lodge at Discovery Park"
•The Seattle Times 8/12/01:
"The People's Lodge fits Discovery Park"
•8/1/99 The Seattle Times Pacific Magazine cover feature by Blaine Newnham: "Conversations With The Land – Architect Johnpaul Jones Infuses A New Smithsonian Museum With `The Way Of The People'"
•ISDesign 8/97: "Resort to Nature: Sleeping Lady wakes up to green design"
•Remarks by Johnpaul Jones on receiving the AIA Seattle Medal 6/24/06
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