2013 Deitrick Service Medal Winner

Watch: Mike Cox, AIA- Deitrick Service Medal

William Deitrick Service Medal – Mike Cox, AIA

The Deitrick Service Medal is presented to an AIA North Carolina member who exhibits extraordinary service to the community, profession or AIA North Carolina, and was named in honor of the late William Henley Deitrick, FAIA, a former president of AIA North Carolina. This year we are proud to present the Deitrick Service Medal to Mike Cox, AIA.

For 40 years Mike’s professional life has focused on the design and construction of K-12 schools including more than 120 western North Carolina projects. He has planned and renovated old schools for contemporary educational programs and continued use, made sensitive additions to existing schools and created prototypes for 21st century schools. His projects provide not only a forum for teaching, but also buildings that teach.
In 1977, he helped to organize the Asheville Preservation Society to ensure that the downtown would remain intact for the coming renaissance that characterized Asheville at the turn of the century. The organization still bears the logo designed by Mike in 1979. That same year he began his service as a member on the Historic Resources Commission where he would serve for 8 years, two of them as Chairman.

Remembering their time together in the early days of Asheville preservation efforts, retired NC Supreme Court Justice Robert Orr says about Mike, “I value to this day, the collaborative spirit with which Mike worked with me, others in the Society and particularly the public. When Mike gave you his opinion, we all listened because we knew it had been carefully thought out and all the alternatives carefully considered.”
Mike began his service to AIA as well in 1977 as a member of the Asheville Council of Architects, where he was instrumental in helping create the Asheville Section of AIANC. He would be its first Secretary and second President.
Following a 20-year sabbatical from AIA leadership, Mike returned to the AIA Asheville Board as President-Elect in 2001. During this time he actively supported the state’s initiative to provide revenue sharing for North Carolina Sections and in turn used this resource as matching funds for the section to hire its first ever executive director.

Joining the AIA North Carolina Executive Committee in 2005, Mike led a year of evaluation, experimentation and branding for the state’s continuing education program. By mid year AIANC had its first standing Continuing Education
Committee. They were charged with refining the brand, the policy and the programs that would guide the CE Academy for the next several years, becoming an important source of non-dues revenue and high quality learning offerings for the members. Ultimately the program would be recognized for its efforts with a 2009 National AIA Component Award for Continuing Education.
Also in 2005 Mike and his fellow Ashevillian, Jane Mathews, took on the responsibility of programming the facility needs for AIA North Carolina when the chapter was exploring its long-term space requirements. Two years later he then led the finance committee in examining the financial implications of the proposed Center for Architecture.

As the economic downturn in 2008 threatened the viability of the project, Mike kept a faithful optimism that inspired confidence as the project struggled to move forward. He developed numerous strategies and contingency plans to make the project remain financially viable. After more than five years of effort, it became apparent that planning for the Center would succeed or fail by the end of 2010. While the Center committee explored every possible option, Mike quietly planned for the possibility that Stimulus Funding would expire. He prepared a mission
statement and selected potential members for what he would term the “Pall Bearers Committee”.

If appointed, this new committee of 6 individuals would formulate plans for managing the debt that had accumulated as a consequence of a failed Center effort, and to reconsider the Chapter’s building options. As we know now the Pall Bearers Committee and its mission fortunately never materialized and in December 2010, it was fitting that as AIANC President, Mike presided over the groundbreaking ceremony for the new building. It was also fitting that Mike’s address would end with the following words: “We, TODAY take the first steps towards preparing for a brighter future for the construction industry in the state of North Carolina. Join with me today in this celebration and mark this day as the day that the architects of North Carolina, together, proclaim their faith in the future. TODAY we begin to build for Tomorrow.

Two additional enduring actions became hallmarks of Mike’s leadership in the AIA. First, he would create an honor for every living and future president of the Chapter with the award of the AIA North Carolina Past President’s Medal. South Carolina and Georgia would adopt the program for recognition of their past leaders based on Mike’s concept the following year.

Second, Mike launched the new Legacy Award for the Chapter to honor other organizations and groups that support the work of architects and the promotion of architecture. Three such groups have been recognized with the award since itsinception.

Summing up perhaps Mikes greatest achievement for AIA, 2006 AIA North Carolina President, Jim Rains, FAIA said, “Mike Cox carried the membership on his shoulders the final yards to our new home. I believe nothing would make Mr. Deitrick more proud than to share his honor, his name and his medal with the man who moved the membership into its next chapter.”

AIA North Carolina is honored to present J. Michael Cox, AIA with the 2013 William Deitrick Service Medal.