Apple Architect Receives Industry Honor

December 18, 2009

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) has awarded its annual Gold Medal to Peter Bohlin, the architect responsible for designing Apple’s unique and distinctive retail stores around the world. The group honored Bohlin, 72, for a “significant body of work (that) has had a lasting influence on the theory and practice of architecture.” The award has been given to just 66 professionals since 1907, and is the AIA’s highest individual award. Previous recipients include Frank Lloyd Wright, Le Corbusier, Louis Skidmore, I.M. Pei, Frank Gehry and Santiago Calatrava. Besides Apple’s stores, Bohlin has also designed homes, offices and specialized buildings over a long career. Bohlin is a principle at Bohlin Cywinski Jackson (BCJ), a 200-person firm with offices in Pittsburgh (Penn.), Seattle (Wash.) and San Francisco (Calif.). Bohlin will receive the award during the AIA’s annual conference next June in Miami (Fla.), and his name will be chiseled into a granite wall at AIA’s headquarters in New York City. Download (pdf) the AIA’s award presentation that reviews Bohlin’s work and the award.

Bohlin founded the firm in 1965, and has said he based it in Wilkes-Barre (Penn.) to escape the influences of New York City. The company received the AIA’s highest firm award in 1994, and Bohlin himself received a Medal of Distinction from the Pennsylvania chapter of the AIA in 2008. The firm and its architects have earned over 350 other awards over the years.

Bohlin received a Bachelor’s Degree in architecture from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (’58), and a Master’s Degree in Architecture from Cranbrook Academy of Art (Mich.). Besides Apple’s stores, Bohlin has designed a business school for Mills College (Oakland, Calif.), the federal building and courthouse in Scranton (Penn.), Pixar’s headquarters (N. Calif.), the Seattle (Wash.) City Hall, Copperhill Mountain Lodge (Sweden) and—ironically—Bill Gates’ 40,000 square-foot home near Seattle.

Listen (mp3) to a 2001 interview with Bohlin conducted by the National Building Museum.

Architect Peter Bohlin (right) with Ron Johnson (l.) and Steve Jobs before the grand opening of the Fifth Avenue (NYC) retail store in May 2006.

Architect Peter Bohlin (right) with Ron Johnson (l.) and Steve Jobs before the grand opening of the Fifth Avenue (NYC) retail store in May 2006.

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