Outstanding Alum tapped to lead
American Institute of Architects


Jeff Potter, FAIA, an outstanding alumnus of Texas A&M's College of Architecture and principal of the Texas architecture firm, POTTER, was recently elected to lead the American Institute of Architects as its first vice-president/president elect in 2011 and president in 2012.

Chosen to the post during the AIA's national convention, held June 10-12 in Miami, Potter holds both Bachelor of Environmental Design (1978) and Master of Architecture (1979) degrees from Texas A&M.

He will be the fourth Texas A&M former student to hold the top AIA post.

"The paramount matter before the AIA is the fact that 25% of our profession is unemployed or underemployed," he said. "I believe it's our leadership's prime task to address that issue so we can be relevant to those members," said Potter, who was also invested in the AIA's College of Fellows during the Miami convention.

Architects, he said, must continue to position themselves as sustainable design leaders and the AIA must further refine the way it promotes the role of the architect in society.

“The challenge is communicating to an increasingly urbanized culture the meaning of sustainable architecture, and while doing that,” he said, “not losing sight of the fact that beauty is integral to the process and is what makes us unique.”

He founded POTTER, a design firm with offices in Dallas and Longview, Texas, in 1983, and is an expert in K-12 educational facility planning and implementation.

AIA Northeast Texas presented Potter with its Award of Honor in 1998 for his design of South Ward Elementary School in Longview and its Award of Design Merit in 1996 for his city hall design for Mount Pleasant, Texas.
He operates the firm with his wife, Shelley, who earned a Bachelor of Science in Landscape Architecture from Texas A&M in 1978. It was Shelley, he said, who set him on a path of service after meeting her during his first year at Texas A&M.

"I was an introspective student who would prefer to sit in the studio and work on design problems," said Potter of his days in Aggieland. "But she was involved in every club on campus, founded her sorority at A&M, and has been my role model of community service throughout the years."

Shelley, a landscape architect and president of POTTER, is also an outstanding alumna of the Texas A&M College of Architecture and is immediate past chairwoman of The Association of Former Students' board of directors.

As a student, Potter said there were three members of the Texas A&M faculty who influenced his trajectory in leadership roles, John Only Greer, FAIA, David Woodcock, FAIA, and Edward Romieniec, FAIA.
Greer and Woodcock are professors of architecture, as was Romieniec, the College of Architecture's first dean, who died in 1996.

"They were leaders in the AIA, registered architects who valued the AIA credential behind their names," he said. "They always maintained that leadership, in addition to participation, was not just something you could do, but something it was your responsibility to do," said Potter.

Inspired by his mentors, Potter said his involvement with the AIA began by going to meetings as a student.

"I was just allowed to sit and listen," he said.

He did much more than that in subsequent years. Among his leadership roles were terms as AIA Northeast Texas' president in 1999, The Texas Society of Architects president in 2004, and as a member of the American Institute of Architects' Board of Directors from 2007-2009.

Among Potter’s other priorities as AIA’s national leader is the advancement of emerging professionals, diversity and expanding the AIA brand.

"It's very important that we continue to advance our relationship with young and emerging professionals," he said. "How a profession treats the next generation is an ethical responsibility. I hope to elevate our posture regarding how emerging professionals are educated, mentored and brought into the profession."

Diversity in the AIA, Potter said, can be improved beyond mere representation, as a viable proposition for all members of society.

"I also want the AIA to become culturally competent so individuals from any neighborhood who want to study architecture would look at us and say, 'These are people I want to be involved with.'"

And because architects worldwide are interested in being associated with the AIA brand, he noted that the U.S. organization is in competition with other major architectural associations around the world.

“I think the work in front of us,” he said, “is how we project that brand globally."

Other Aggie past presidents of the 153-year-old American Association of Architects, all Outstanding Alumni of the Texas A&M College of Architecture, were:

  • Cecil Steward '56, FAIA, 1991-92,
  • Raymond G. "Skipper" Post '63, FAIA, 1995-96, and
  • Ronald Skaggs, '65, FAIA, 1999-2000.

The AIA's website can be accessed at http://www.aia.org/index.htm


- Posted: June 21, 2010 -

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Contact:   Phillip Rollfing, prollfing@archone.tamu.edu or 979.458.0442.


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