2013 Award of Honor: Cleveland Civic Core
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AIA Seattle 2003 Medallist Thomas L. Bosworth FAIA: 'Remarks on My Architectural Life'

presented at the AIA Seattle Honors Gala July 7, 2003

Acknowledgments
*To AIA 2004 President Eugene Hopkins FAIA: Thank you for being here tonight and adding gravitas to our provincial and boisterous gathering!
*To AIA Seattle President Rena Klein AIA (1st VP Kristen M. Scott AIA, in her absence): Thank you, along with Marga Rose Hancock, for your careful arrangements for this event.
*To Honors Nominating Committee Chair Dave Miller FAIA: Thank you for your kind introduction. I wish my parents had been here to hear it: My father would have enjoyed it, and my mother would have believed every word.

I value this honor highly, and I am humbled by it, because in reality I hold it in trust for the many people who have been part of my life, and who have contributed to my ambition and my work. Tonight I am going to touch on three topics. First, I want to thank several people who have been and are important to me. Second, I will comment briefly on six recurring themes which thread through my architectural designs. Third, I will provide the architects here who are younger than I am (most of you!) with extensive advice - less than 45 minutes, I promise!

I. My thanks:
*I want to thank the members of my family for their forbearance in putting up with my architectural preoccupations: my children Dave & Diane, who would have been here tonight were they not home sick; Robbie & Gregg, who are in NYC; Tom & Donna, who are here; Kevin, Caroline and Ella, who are here. And most particularly my wife Elaine, who has inspired me for thirty years.

*Next I want to thank the members of the Bosworth Studio who have shared with daily successes and failures: Steve Hoedemaker, Colin Patton, Jessyca T. J. Poole, Paul Schlachter

*I also want to extend my thanks to my students over the years at Yale, Rhode Island School of Design, the University of Washington, and Kobe University
in Japan, and to my clients over the years, especially John Hauberg, my patron at the Pilchuck Glass School. From students and clients I have learned far more than I have imparted to them (in most cases!).

*And I want to note several teachers
of the many I have been privileged to know who have shaped my life:
**Theodore Walter, Oberlin High School Industrial Arts Instructors, who taught me to draw well and to enjoy doing it.
** Charles Parkhurst, Professor of Architectural History at Oberlin College, who by example and guidance taught me to value the excitement of scholarly learning.
**Paul Rudolf, Chairman of Architecture at Yale University, who shared with me through criticism and advice the passion and mystery of design excellence.
**Eero Saarinen and his young design assistant Cesar Pelli, who revealed to me the exhausting exhilarations of an idealistic professional practice.
**Albert Bush-Brown, President of Rhode Island School of Design, who mentored my introduction into the Byzantine world of university administration.

II. Six Recurring Design Themes in my Work
These are idiosyncratic preferences, and I do not necessarily recommend them to you. I am sure that you have or are developing your own.
1) Natural Light. I believe that natural light is an essential ingredient in the design of architectural form and the space it contains. It has all been downhill for architecture since the invention of electric light.
2) Landscape. I believe that landscape is always more important than the architecture in it, and buildings must be subservient to and become part of their natural settings. I should note that much of my work has been privileged with beautiful rural settings.
3) Axial Symmetry. When done right and balanced again other considerations, symmetry helps make a building comfortable and easy to relate to, perhaps because people are themselves physically symmetrical, perhaps because of the apparent clarity of idea inherent in it.
4) Traditional Vernacular Forms. The use of their familiar architectural shapes opens up the appreciation of architecture to those in society who are not members of the fashion-driven architectural intellectual elite.
5) Craft. The hands of skilled workmen should be honored in construction, and should leave a trace on the surfaces and the details of a building.
6) Memory. If a design of a project really comes together - and this happens infrequently - then the image of it will become embedded in the common memory, and will transcend physical and temporal limitations. Here is the ultimate and rare architectural success.

III. Advice to Younger Architects
1) Love what you do.
2) Give it your all.
3) Be lucky. The Roman god Fortuna is standing by and eager to lend a hand to those of you with an optimistic spirit!

Thank you.

 

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