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Potomac Valley Chapter of American Institute of Architects Honors Planning Director Gwen Wright with Paul H. Kea Medal

Kea Medal is chapter’s highest honor in recognizing leadership, advocacy and service to design profession

COLLEGE PARK – AIA Potomac Valley, a chapter of the American Institute of Architects, will present the 2017 Paul H. Kea Medal to Gwen Wright, Director of the Montgomery County Planning Department on October 19, 2017. Wright will receive the Kea Medal, AIA Potomac Valley’s highest honor, at the chapter’s design awards presentation, Celebrate Design, held at the Silver Spring Civic Building. The Planning Department’s annual Design Excellence Awards will also be announced at this evening’s event.

“This award is so gratifying to receive after serving as Planning Director for four years,” said Wright. “We have accomplished so much –12 master plans, a new zoning ordinance, major research projects and more – in that time frame. We are realizing major planning visions in Bethesda, Silver Spring and other centers, and good design is so important to their successful implementation. I look forward to continuing to raise the bar as we put forth even more innovative plans and policies to improve the quality of life in the county.”

Wright joined the Planning Department as Director in 2013, after serving as the Chief of the Development Division in the Department of Planning and Zoning for the City of Alexandria for five years. She previously worked for the Montgomery County Planning Department from 1987 to 2008. During this period, she served as the Chief of Countywide Planning, including supervising the Environmental Planning, Transportation Planning and Historic Preservation Sections, as well as serving as Acting Planning Director.

The Kea Medal recognizes Wright’s advocacy of design in establishing the Planning Department’s Design Excellence Award program in 2015. “The recognition at the highest level within the Planning Department that good design matters and is worth promoting is a huge boost to the local design community,” said AIA Potomac Valley President Thomas Wallof, AIA. “It is time to recognize the significance of our Planning Director’s vision for a better built environment in Montgomery County through better design.”

The Paul H. Kea Medal recognizes architects or non-architects in related fields who have made a significant and exemplary contribution to the profession, either through a body of work or a single contribution of great scope. Recipients may be cited for Service to the Profession; Leadership; or Architectural Advocacy that has furthered the public’s awareness or appreciation of design excellence. Wright joins these previous honorees:

2016 – David Cronrath, AIA – Leadership, Service to the Profession; Randy Steiner, AIA – Leadership, Architectural Advocacy

2015 – Clare Lise Kelly – Architectural Advocacy

2014 - Melanie Hennigan, AIA – Leadership, Service to the Profession; Raymond Skinner – Leadership, Architectural Advocacy

2013 - Carlo Colella, LEED AP – Architectural Advocacy; Carl Elefante, FAIA – Leadership, Service to the Profession

2012 - Samuel J. Parker, Jr., AICP – Leadership; John A. Carter, AIA – Architectural Advocacy

2010 - Dr. Royce Hanson – Leadership, Architectural Advocacy

2009 - Rollin B. Stanley – Architectural Advocacy; John M. Maudlin-Jeronimo, FAIA – Leadership, Service to the Profession

2007- John Torti, FAIA – Leadership; William Bechhoefer – Service to the Profession; Eliot Pfanstiehl – Architectural Advocacy

2006 - Marshall Purnell, FAIA – Leadership; John P. Salmen, AIA – Service to the Profession; Douglas M. Duncan – Architectural Advocacy

2004 - Karl F. G. Du Puy – Architectural Advocacy; Steven W. Hurtt, AIA – Leadership; Steven J. Karr, AIA – Service to the Profession

2003 - Daniel W. Bennett, Jr, AIA – Service to the Profession; Richard G. Hawes – Architectural Advocacy; Stephen L. Parker, AIA – Leadership, Service to the Profession, Architectural Advocacy

2002 - Ralph D. Bennett, AIA – Leadership; John F. Corkill, Jr., AIA – Service to the Profession; Roger K. Lewis, FAIA – Architectural Advocacy

About the Kea Medal
The award is named in honor of Paul H. Kea, FAIA, (1886-1968) who began practicing architecture in 1912, moved to Hyattsville, Maryland, and founded the firm Kea, Shaw, Grimm & Crichton, a precursor to today’s Grimm + Parker Architects. His firm built numerous banks, churches, schools and commercial buildings. A founding member of AIA Potomac Valley, Kea served as President of the Maryland Society of Architects and became a Fellow of the AIA (FAIA) in 1960. He served as President of the Prince George’s Chamber of Commerce and served on numerous church committees and community boards. He took a strong interest in architectural education and funded a Distinguished Professorship at the University of Maryland.

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