When Lia Gartner, vice president for Design, Construction, and Facilities Management, learned she was elected to the College of Fellows of the American Institute of Architects (AIA), the country’s leading architecture organization, she felt gratified about the choice she made years earlier to trade the private practice of architecture for practicing on behalf of the public. This work is my professional life’s wish come true,, she said.
An honor bestowed on only 2 percent of AIA members, fellowship is the highest form of recognition an AIA architect can achieve. Selected based on her exemplary career of outstanding design for the public good, Gartner joins an illustrious group of fellows who have changed the shape of American architectural practice.
Election to the College of Fellows comes after a rigorous, yearlong process that requires a professional sponsor, a formal nomination, comprehensive documentation of work and seven letters of reference from colleagues in the field.
And Gartner has nothing but respect for the architecture community she is a part of and the public to whom she dedicated her career. I’ve had the great fortune to work alongside extraordinary architects,, Gartner said, to help build places that serve and dignify the activities of people engaged in the civic or educational or social life of this city.,
Gartner came to The New School six years ago from City University of New York, where she was responsible for major expansion of the university’s 19 campuses. Before that, she served the City of New York by overseeing projects for 16 public agencies. At The New School, she has lead an ambitious capital projects campaign that includes the construction of the Sheila C. Johnson Design Center and Welcome Center, as well as planning of the university’s new building at 65 Fifth Avenue.
Reflecting on her selection, Gartner stressed that fellowship is not a lifetime achievement award. This is an assessment of a career, not a capstone,, she said. It is recognition of your work, with anticipation that there is more to come., Gartner now has her sights set on unifying the New School’s campus with a new university center and urban quad at 13th Street and Fifth Avenue. As it is for the university, for Lia Gartner, too, the best is yet to come.