Explore our 30 year anniversary booklet, 1993-2023

Honored Citizens

Since 1993, AFO has honored public officials, community advocates, statewide organizations, philanthropists, developers, artists, architects, and more. Each honoree listed below has made significant contributions to Oregon’s designed environment. Over the years, the Honored Citizen celebration has grown to be the largest event for the design and building industry in Oregon.

Learn more about each of our past Honored Citizens below.

Lillian Pitt (Warm Springs, Wasco, Yakama) has helped shape our state through her work as an artist, mentor, and advocate.

Lillian’s art has been at the heart of numerous building projects across the state and around the world. Many structures around the Pacific Northwest have been elevated by Lillian’s work. With the Confluence project, she designed the Welcome Gate for the Vancouver Land Bridge; her art also adorns Portland Tri-Met stations, the Native American Student Center at Portland State University, as well as sites in Sapporo, Japan.

Telling the story of her ancestors through her art – whether large-scale public art installations or smaller pieces of intricately designed jewelry – Lillian is an artist whose work is all around us. But her impact is not limited to the pieces she has produced. Lillian is a deeply committed mentor to numerous Indigenous artists from across the Pacific Northwest. By encouraging and cultivating the next generation of Native American artists, Lillian is ensuring that the Indigenous story of Oregon is remembered and honored.

Video by Jacob Pander with Collaborator Studios

Carol Edelman is one of the most beloved figures in the Oregon architecture community. With projects spanning across the state from the redesign of Crater Lake Lodge to the Visitor Center at Mount St. Helens, Carol has deeply impacted some of the defining spaces of Oregon’s built environment.

After earning her Bachelor’s degree in Architecture from Cornell University in 1967, Carol moved to Portland and trained at SOM. A few years later she founded her own design firm Edelman and Associates and became a licensed architect. Her portfolio of work extends the full spectrum of interior spaces – from the design of the restaurant Uncle Chen (Portland’s first gourmet Chinese restaurant and first public art project by Larry Kirkland) to the interiors of private spaces like the vacation homes of John and Betty Gray. Her list of collaborators is a who’s who of the Oregon design and development community including Bill Naito, John Storrs, John Gray, Michael McCulloch, and Jon Schleuning.

Perhaps what sets Carol apart from her peers is not only that she was a woman breaking into a field historically dominated by men, but she regarded her work as but one part of her service to Oregon’s community. She has also played a vital role in the arts community in Portland by supporting numerous organizations like Portland Art Museum, PNCA, Portland Piano International and the Regional Arts and Culture Council.

Video by Jacob Pander with Collaborator Studios

Each year, teachers across Oregon help us deliver our Architects in Schools program to over 5,400 elementary school students. Together with volunteer design and building professionals, they are AFO’s first responders and we couldn’t bring the power of design to Oregon kids without them!

On the evening of October 28, 2020, hundreds of AFO friends gathered around their computer screens and televisions for our annual Honored Citizen celebration. We heard from the inspiring leaders of KairosPDX, Zalika Gardner and Marsha Williams, we listened to music by Portland artist, Onry, we learned how to make a delicious cherry blossom cocktail with friends from 5 Fusion in Bend, and heard encouraging words from our 2020 Honored Citizens, Oregon Teachers.

KairosPDX is an education nonprofit focused on transforming education through a model built on love and inclusion that elevates the voices of historically underserved children, their families and their communities.

Watch the virtual program below.

Over his career as one of the leaders in the Oregon architecture community, Joachim Grube has established himself as a true visionary who embraces innovative and purpose-driven design. You can find his influence in buildings across the state like Timberline Lodge, where he guided the implementation of the new winter entrance, and his collaborations with Pietro Belluschi on six churches including the University of Portland Chapel. Joachim’s legacy also includes creating successful partnerships between Portland architect/engineer teams and developing world professionals to design and deliver state-of-the-art facilities contributing to economic development around the world.

Joachim was born in the Free City of Danzig in 1932. At the end of World War II, he and his family found themselves in a refugee camp with thousands of other displaced people. Following repatriation to West Germany and after completion of a bricklayer apprenticeship, he graduated from the Hamburg School of Architecture. His first professional experience in Hamburg was followed by further study and an architectural internship in Berlin.

After marrying Liz, a traveling student from Lewis and Clark College in Portland, the couple decided to move to Oregon where Joachim worked at William Fletcher and SOM offices. In 1961 he was recruited by the UN to design Teacher Training Institutes across Africa as part of UNESCO’s Regional Planning Office in Khartoum, Sudan. The four year assignment was an eye-opener for the couple and their two young children, which compelled Joachim to focus his career on projects in developing countries.

Upon his return to Portland, Joachim became a founding member of Yost Grube Hall Architecture, a firm that for over 50 years has helped shape the built environment in Portland and left its mark in 45 countries overseas. But Joachim has also helped shape the lives of countless young professionals over the years. He is regarded as an artist, a mentor and an advocate for new voices. By encouraging and supporting a diverse community of architects, designers, engineers and artists, Joachim has served as a touchstone for an entire new generation of professionals.

Video by Magaurn Video Media

Mark and Ann Edlen have created a dynamic partnership that has contributed to Oregon’s quality of life for several decades. The Edlens, both individually and collectively, have a deep commitment to education, healthcare, the arts, sustainability and the built environment, to the benefit of our city and state.

Mark Edlen is Co-Founder and Chairman of Gerding Edlen Development. Recognized for their expertise in creating sustainable communities in mixed-use and mixed income commercial, residential, educational and retail developments, Gerding Edlen is also known for contributing to the community through its development of over 750 affordable housing units, along with the completion of three drug and alcohol treatment centers. Mark and longtime friend Bob Gerding, who passed away in 2009, founded the firm in 1996 and until his retirement in 2017, Mark thoughtfully directed Gerding Edlen’s vision and growth.

With a national portfolio, Gerding Edlen is a leader in sustainable development and socially responsible real estate investment. Gerding Edlen has developed more than 75 LEED certified buildings, including the Brewery Blocks, Twelve West and the Portland Armory, the first LEED Platinum building on the National Register of Historic Places. The firm’s work also helped to transform two of Portland’s industrial areas – the Pearl District and the South Waterfront District.

Mark is a member of the Board of Directors for Ecotrust and the University of Oregon School of Business Advisory Board, as well as a trustee for the Bullitt Foundation.

Ann Edlen came to Portland from New Jersey in 1979. With a degree in art and graduate work in business, Ann has had a long and diverse career in marketing and advertising beginning with her position as Vice President and Marketing Director for First Interstate Bank (now Wells Fargo) and with Think Joule, where she was active until her retirement in 2014. Ann currently chairs the Oregon Health & Science University Foundation Board, which exists to secure private philanthropic support to advance OHSU’s vital missions, currently in a two billion dollar campaign to transform human health.

Under her leadership, as former chair of Pacific Northwest College of Art’s board, Ann helped raised $30 million for the school’s capital campaign, which led to the college’s rebirth in a stunning building designed by Allied Works. The Arlene and Harold Schnitzer Center for Art and Design is the flagship for PNCA’s new campus in the former federal building on Portland’s North Park Blocks. She is still a member of the PNCA Creative Leaders Council and the Ann Payne Edlen Creative Corridor at the school was named in her honor. Ann also served on the Board of the Portland Art Museum, Jesuit High School and the Board of Visitors for the University of Oregon School of Architecture and Allied Arts.

Mark and Ann embrace a fundamental philosophy of community, living a life committed to family and to their beliefs that as engaged citizens we must ask how we can add to our community, including what our responsibility is to the livability of the built environment and to a more sustainable future and how we can help less fortunate Oregonians attain their dreams.

Video by Magaurn Video Media

Donald J. Stastny, a Citizen and Provocateur, has forged a unique professional career as an Architect and Urbanist. His nationally recognized elevation of Design and Design Methodology as a “problem solving tool” has its foundation in the academic, political and social cultures of Portland and Oregon. Don’s professional approach, ethos and intellect have garnered him many titles: Architect and Placemaker, for his architectural work that reflects the values of a people and impact the community in which they are located; Urbanist and Strategic Planner, for providing tools for local decision makers to respond to the cultural and economic conditions that are unique to a place; Design Process Manager and Innovator, for elevating the design quality of over 500 new and renovated federal properties throughout the nation; and Teacher/Mentor and Citizen, for educating individuals and communities about the “power of design” through founding the Oregon School of Design and providing education for the elderly and youth.

Video by Jeff Gianola

Lee Kelly is a “national treasure” who began studying architecture in the early 1950’s at Vanport College, now Portland State University. Lee Kelly’s contributions to Oregon’s designed and built environment are visible throughout Oregon as you drive along the freeway, stroll through the park, or hurry to class on campus.

More than 30 of Kelly’s monumental sculptures command public spaces between Eugene and Vancouver. His works are on nearly every public and private higher education campus in Oregon. His Lupine Fugue is prominently featured at The Oregon Garden in Silverton. Tens of thousands of commuters pass his Arch With Oaks every day at Cornell Oaks Corporate Center adjacent to Highway 26. Residents and visitors alike interact on a daily basis with his Frank L. Beach Memorial Fountain in Washington Park’s International Rose Test Garden. Perhaps his most prominent recent installation is Memory 99 in the North Park Blocks adjacent to Pacific Northwest College of Art. Lee received his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from PNCA’s predecessor, the Portland Art Museum School, in 1959.

Often working in Cor-Ten or stainless steel, Kelly has been called the greatest living sculptor in the Pacific Northwest. He continues to adapt to new technologies as they become available, and his work continues to evolve. As staggeringly beautiful as his sculptures are to view, the man himself is quiet, humble, and octogenarian “boy-next-door.”

Video by Jeff Gianola

Nearly 800 people celebrated both Arlene Schnitzer and Jordan Schnitzer as AFO’s 2015 Honored Citizens on October 27, 2015 at the Oregon Convention Center. Our celebratory dinner provided a place to learn about the diverse contributions that create a designed and built environment worthy of our beautiful Pacific Northwest. Here is Jeff Gianola’s video tribute to Arlene and Jordan:

Video by Jeff Gianola

Art Johnson was recognized as our 2014 Honored Citizen October 1, 2014.

Video by Jeff Gianola

Benson Industries was recognized as our 2013 Honored Citizen on October 9, 2013 at the Oregon Convention Center.

Video by Jeff Gianola

Recognizing Oregon as a very special place in the world – “geographically blessed” as Phil says, drives much of Phil & Penny’s giving. The Knights have made multiple gifts of $100 million or more to create research, learning and athletic environments that contribute to the success of the buildings’ clients. From the University of Oregon’s Matthew Knight Arena and John E. Jaqua Center for Student Athletes to OHSU’s Knight Cancer Center, their understanding of design’s impact on life within the buildings has been a guiding force for their investments in their beloved state.

Video by Jeff Gianola

The Oregon Community Foundation (OCF) is committed to bringing fresh approaches to solving tough issues in Oregon communities. It improves lives and unites Oregonians as the leader in Oregon philanthropy, strengthening communities across the state.

In a community foundation, donors pool their funds under shared management. Each donor can tailor his or her gift to achieve their giving objective. By investing together, they can squeeze more good from every dollar. OCF is the sixth largest community foundation in the United States. From William Swindells’s initial $63,000 contribution, OCF today has upwards of $1.1 billion under management through 1,600 charitable funds, and provided $60 million in grants and scholarships in 2010.

Video by Jeff Gianola

Whether through the routing of the week-long ride itself, through the “tent city” villages that are erected for overnight stays in towns along the way, through the hospitality that these areas provide to the 2,000+ riders, or through the Cycle Oregon Fund which cycles monetary support back to these communities through its annual grants.

From small grants for grange hall improvements in the tiny Wheeler County town of Spray, for restoration of the Elgin Opera House, the Butte Falls Community Center, the Athena American Legion Hall, and preservation of the Historic Columbia River Highway to major gifts given to the picturesque town of Halfway and to the Kum Wah Chung & Co. Museum, Cycle Oregon is leaving tracks of philanthropy to support infrastructure all across Oregon.

Video by Jeff Gianola

Dave Frohnmayer retired as University of Oregon president in June of 2009, having provided outstanding leadership during his 15-year tenure. He has raised more than $1 billion in private philanthropy for UO and added a host of new centers and institutes. The University’s greatest construction cycle in its history has taken place during Frohnmayer’s tenure with approximately $500 million in construction projects completed or underway.

Completed projects include the Portland facility in the White Stag Block building, the Integrative Science Complex, the William W. Knight Law Center, the Lillis Business Complex, the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art, the MarAbel B. Frohnmayer Music Building, the HEDCO Education building, the Matthew Knight Arena, the Ford Alumni Center, expansion of Autzen Stadium and major upgrades to historic Hayward Field.

Video by Jeff Gianola

Much had changed in 60 years, but not Gray’s passion for Oregon’s beauty or his respect for how we develop our state to accommodate those of us who choose to live here alongside the creatures who came before us.

We think of John as the developer who taught us how to build in concert with the land. Specializing in environmentally sensitive property development, Gray developed Salishan Lodge and Salishan Hills on the Oregon Coast, Sunriver in Central Oregon, Johns Landing in Portland, and Skamania Lodge on the Washington side of the Columbia River Gorge.

Video by Jeff Gianola

A life-long Portland resident and veteran of the U.S. House of Representatives, Earl Blumenauer has devoted his entire career to public service. He earned his law degree at Lewis & Clark and was elected to the Oregon Legislature when he was just 23. In 1979 he became a Multnomah County Commissioner, and in 1986 was elected to Portland’s City Council, serving 10 years as commissioner of public works. As a local official, Earl developed a national reputation for his advocacy of public transportation, land use planning, environmental protection, and school funding. His notable accomplishments have helped make Portland one of the nation’s most livable cities.

Since his election to Congress in 1996, Earl has focused on making the federal government an effective partner with architects and business in creating livable communities, communities that offer a better mix of transportation, housing, and open-space alternatives. “Architects,” says Blumenauer, “link the artistic expression of what people want to get out of the built environment with the requirements and realities of the governmental arena—water, air, open space, light, energy requirements, and building codes.” For that reason, “They are more important than they know.”

Video by Jeff Gianola

Bob Gerding was widely known for his contributions to Oregon’s built environment as one of the state’s leading developers. But, those who knew Bob know that his emphasis was more on ‘contribution’ than on ‘developer.’ While Bob relished putting deals together, adding to the skyline, and realizing financial success as much as anyone, the things that really got his engine running were the very things for which we celebrated him:

  • The vision he held, conveyed and pursued in his work, as well as in his volunteer and philanthropic activities
  • The leadership he showed, whether pursuing sustainability or championing a vital arts and cultural life
  • The community he created, both physically and spiritually, that makes our state a better place for all of us

And, perhaps above all, his passion for everything he undertook, be it the development of complex neighborhoods or the engagement of a rainbow trout. Bob just didn’t do anything halfway, or even three-quarters of the way. He was all in, devouring information, becoming an expert, and doing his absolute best at everything.

Video by Jeff Gianola

Dedicated to maintaining habitats for wildlife in our urban areas, Mike Houck has maintained a vigilant and vocal crusade for more than 25 years. During that time, his work has grown from a focus on environmental issues to a broader advocacy for a wide range of important urban and natural resources for the region. He has advocated for affordable housing, a rational metropolitan transportation system, the restoration of urban waterways, and the strong urban wilds system. According to The Oregonian “More than any other individual, Houck has motivated, cajoled and convinced a critical mass of key people that regional coordination is essential if the metropolitan area’s natural corridors and greenways are to survive…”

Video by Jeff Gianola

As partner-in-charge of design for Zimmer Gunsul Frasca since 1966, Bob Frasca has transformed the face of Oregon’s built environment, exported our Northwest aesthetic internationally, and advanced the legacy of design excellence through mentoring countless talented young architects. Bob’s work is united by his belief that architecture should vary with the program, climate and place, and with the culture of the people who will occupy it. His instincts as observer, and then as designer, have produced a diverse portfolio, ranging from downtown civic buildings in Portland, embassy buildings for the U.S. Department of State,  research facilities for major institutions across the country, to academic buildings for small colleges such as Reed and Williams.

Video by Jeff Gianola

An Oregon treasure widely recognized for her many contributions to education, culture, humanities and natural resources, Jean Vollum and her husband, Howard Vollum, were responsible for some of the most architecturally significant sites and buildings in Oregon. From the filbert orchard on which the beautiful Oregon College of Art & Craft now resides to the building of Alvar Aalto’s Mount Angel Abbey Library, Oregonian’s have been blessed by the Vollums’ vision and generosity. Jean’s foresight created the nation’s first LEED Gold-rated historic restoration, the Jean Vollum Natural Capital Center (known by many as the home of EcoTrust). Portland State University’s Native American Student and Community Center was dedicated in the fall of 2003 through Jean’s leadership. Jean Vollum, made it possible for future generations to experience the best in the architecture of our time while she furthered the important missions of the institutions those buildings house.

Video by Jeff Gianola

2002 – OHSU President Dr. Peter O. Kohler
2001 – Artist Ed Carpenter
2000 – 1000 Friends of Oregon
1999 – Neil Goldschmidt, Mayor of PDX, Governor of OR, US Secretary of Transportation
1998 – Artist Tom Hardy
1997 – Senator Mark O. Hatfield, US Senator, Governor of OR, OR Secretary of State
1996 – AIA Gold Medallist Pietro Belluschi, FAIA
1995 – Portland Art Museum Director Dr. Francis Newton
1994 – Landscape Architect Barbara Fealy, FASLA
1993 – Artist Leroy Setziol