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Society & Culture

Head of the Department of Architecture Design & Urbanism Honored With Prestigious Architecture Award

January 31, 2017

Alan Greenberger.

Alan Greenberger, the new head of the Department of Architecture Design & Urbanism in Drexel’s Westphal College of Media Arts & Design, was recently honored with the American Institute of Architects’ 2017 Thomas Jefferson Award for Public Architecture, a prestigious award in the profession that recognizes excellence in architectural advocacy and achievement. 

Greenberger, who is also a Distinguished Teaching Professor and Lindy Fellow in Drexel’s Lindy Institute for Urban Innovation, won the award for his work as the City of Philadelphia’s Deputy Mayor for Economic Development and Chairman of the Philadelphia City Planning Commission under former Mayor Michael Nutter.  

“Alan has probably done more to elevate the culture of design excellence in Philadelphia than anyone in recent memory,” wrote Drexel President John A. Fry in a letter recommending Greenberger for the award. “When he was Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development, I worked with him directly on numerous development matters in which Drexel University was involved. I relied on his counsel to help us guide some very ambitious plans that will not only be of great benefit to the university, but have major implications for the well-being of the city as well.”

During Greenberger’s tenure, the city rewrote its antiquated zoning code and produced a comprehensive plan called Philadelphia 2035, both the first of their kind in over 50 years. Philadelphia has also experienced its biggest building boom in several generations, including new public spaces, waterfront parks and distinctive buildings, all of which Greenberger had a significant hand in bringing to fruition. Most notable among them are the renovation of the long-abandoned Divine Lorraine Hotel on North Broad Street and the Gallery at Market East. Both projects had languished for decades and are now nearing completion, with a promise to re-energize entire areas of the city around them.

“These projects represent the efforts of dozens of people in the City working collaboratively over many years,” said Greenberger. “In much the same way, the Thomas Jefferson Award is as much a collective honor for all of us as it is an individual honor for me.”

Greenberger will officially receive the award at the American Institute of Architect’s National Convention in April 2017 in Orlando, Florida. The Thomas Jefferson Award dates to 1992 and is given to architects and public officials who effectively advocate for design excellence in public architecture. Past winners of the Thomas Jefferson Award include Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan of New York and Mayor Joseph Riley of Charleston, South Carolina as well as many notable individuals within the architectural profession.

Greenberger, a long-standing adjunct professor of architecture at the University, joined Drexel in April 2016 following his tenure as a public official. Upon learning of his intent to leave public service, President Fry said he offered him a place at Drexel and recruited him to a senior academic post, as well as several high-level advisory committees for campus and neighborhood improvements.

Earlier this month, Greenberger was named the head of the newly named Department of Architecture, Design & Urbanism, which was formerly the Department of Architecture & Interiors. The name change of the department is in recognition of its expanding portfolio of programs and research.  Greenberger will lead the department as it plans to incorporate two new graduate programs in Design Research and Urban Strategy (in addition to its legacy programs in Architecture and Interior Design).

Prior to his tenure as a public official, Greenberger was a partner and lead designer for numerous public and institutional projects with MGA Partners. Among his more prominent work while with MGA are the West Chester University School of Music and Performing Arts Center, the Salvation Army’s Kroc Corps Community Center and the Master Plan for Fairmount Park’s Centennial District.