Dean's Medal awarded to three leading professionals and friends of the school

Published May 12, 2017

The School of Architecture and Planning will award its Dean's Medal to alumna Diane Georgopulos (BA '73) and posthumously to architects Ted Lownie and Mark Mendell, beloved friends of the school and leaders in their profession. 

The highest award bestowed by the school, the Dean's Medal honors individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the professions of architecture and planning and to the betterment of our world through inspirational practice, scholarship and leadership. The awards will be presented to Georgopulos and the families of Lownie and Mendell at the school's commencement ceremony on Friday, May 19, 2017.

Diane Georgopulos.

A member of the school's inaugural class, Diane Georgopulos (BA '73) worked for 27 years as an architect at MassHousing, the country’s leading affordable housing finance agency. Before her retirement from the agency in 2016, she served as head of its Design and Construction Department, overseeing construction lending for a $3 billion rental portfolio. A key achievement in her career was her involvement as project manager for construction and design of the $275 million U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Demonstration Disposition Program, the largest single investment made in the history of that agency.

“Diane remains today an eloquent advocate for the role of the environmental designer as a leader and manager of the interdisciplinary teams that are needed to confront the complexity of our contemporary problems,” says Dean Robert Shibley.

Her professional work was recognized in 2005 when the American Institute of Architects bestowed the Thomas Jefferson Award for Public Architecture. In 1995, she was on the MassHousing team that received the Ford Foundation’s Innovations in American Government Award for the Elder Choice Program. Georgopulos developed the design guidelines for the Elder Choice Program - a first model for state-financed, assisted living programs designed to deliver services to frail elders in a residential setting. She more recently consulted with her state colleagues in developing working draft Design Standards for the Commonwealth’s Smart Growth Zoning Overlay District Program.

Ted Lownie.

Ted Lownie, a founding faculty member of the school, passed away unexpectedly in a car accident early this year at the age of 80. As a clinical faculty member, Ted influenced hundreds of students through his teachings of core courses such as Archicture Design Studio and Architecture Design Practicum from 1984-2000, and remained a familiar face at community projects and the lecture series.

Born in Buffalo and raised in Kenmore, Lownie received his bachelor’s degree in architecture from Cornell University before forming his own firm, Hamilton Houston Lownie (HHL) Architects, in Allentown, in 1963. Since then, Lownie and the firm have worked on renovation and restoration projects including the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, the Common Council Chamber in Buffalo City Hall, Theatre Place, the Roycroft Inn and Kleinhan’s Music Hall. Lownie is perhaps best known for his role as principal architect for the restoration of the Darwin D. Martin House Complex.

"Ted Lownie’s life and career demonstrated the value of longevity and steadfastness in pursuit of excellence," Shibley says. "His legacy is everywhere: in the buildings he designed, the architectural treasures he helped restore, and in the people and professionals he touched and shaped."

Mark Mendell.

Mark Mendell, retired president and co-chairman of CannonDesign and one of six founding members of the school's Dean’s Council, died Oct. 25, 2016, at the age of 77. As chairman of one of the world’s leading architecture firms with deep connections to the school, Mark enthusiastically accepted Dean Robert Shibley's invitation to join the school's inaugural Dean’s Council in fall 2013. Over the past three years, he played a pivotal role in the maturation of the Council and the school.

Mark’s leadership of CannonDesign and across the profession was internationally known. Under his direction the firm advanced to among the top 10 design firms in the world, ranked by World Architecture, Design Intelligence and Building Design and Construction. A fellow of the American Institute of Architects and a Member of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada, Mark was a distinguished alumnus of the Rhode Island School of Design. Long active in public service, Mark served as chairman of the board of the University of the Middle East and was a former member of the Dean’s Council of the Harvard Kennedy School and member of the board of directors of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery.

Reflecting on Mark's influence on the development of CannonDesign, his relationship with the school, and his impact more broadly on the profession and cultivation of future leaders, Shibley says: "Mark’s work ethic was legendary. He had a drive and intensity that was impossible to miss. He adopted the motto 'never satisfied.' But passion and intellect alone could not get done what he achieved. Mark also had an ability to connect with people. Talking to Mark gave a person the feeling they were the only two people in the room. He had deep personal relationships with many. Once you entered his fold he was a staunch and active advocate. He was the best mentor a person could have."

Past recipients of the Dean's Medal include such notable figures as architect-scholars Buckminster Fuller and Magda Cordell McHale, environmental leader Bill McKibben, artist and landscape architect Walter Hood, and Buffalo developer and New York State economic development leader Howard Zemsky.