Douglas Bencks Elevated to College of Fellows

Doug Bencks FAIA

The 2016 Jury of Fellows of the AIA elevated Douglas Bencks to its prestigious College of Fellows, an honor awarded to members who have made significant contributions to the profession. Bencks will be honored at an investiture ceremony at the 2016 National AIA Convention in Philadelphia in May, as well as at an AIA New Hampshire event at 3S Artspace in Portsmouth, March 17. More information on the March 17 Event.

The Fellowship program was developed to honor those architects who have made a significant contribution to architecture and society and who have achieved a standard of excellence in the profession. Election to fellowship not only recognizes the achievements of architects as individuals, but also their significant contribution to architecture and society on a national level.

The 2016 Jury of Fellows from AIA elevated 149 AIA members to the College of Fellows. Out of a total AIA membership of over 88,000 there are over 3,200 members distinguished with this honor. The elevation to fellowship is conferred on architects with at least 10 years of membership in the AIA in one or more of the following nomination categories:

  1. Promoted the aesthetic, scientific, and practical efficiency of the profession
  2. Advanced the science and art of planning and building by advancing the standards of architectural education, training and practice
  3. Coordinated the building industry and the profession of architecture through leadership in the AIA and other related professional organizations
  4. Advanced the living standards of people through an improved environment
  5. Made the profession of ever-increasing service to society 

Bencks was nominated for “advancing the living standards of people through an improved environment.” During his career he has developed and instilled a comprehensive approach to campus sustainable planning and design excellence at the University of New Hampshire that has become a model for institutions of higher education across North America.

As the University Architect and Director of Campus Planning, he has led the advancement of the University’s broadly defined and well balanced sustainable development practices by overseeing capital planning, master planning, transportation planning, project planning and programming, and design for all campus projects for more than two decades. During Bencks’ tenure, the University has put in place a comprehensive campus master plan, updated it twice, developed a campus energy system that is primarily renewable, and completed over $800 million of construction projects many of which have won state, regional or national design awards.

Bencks has led the University’s efforts to develop a set of design guidelines defined by sustainability and design excellence grounded in the traditions of the campus, as well as a vision for the future. He has directed the development and refinement of their sustainable practices, beyond LEED and the typical contemporary definitions of sustainability. He was instrumental in developing a new source of renewable energy for the campus from a regional landfill where methane gas is now the source for up to 80% of all campus energy demands. The University’s commitment to energy conservation is recognized by the US Department of Energy for being in the top 5% of public research universities in energy efficiency.

Directing all aspects of campus planning, Bencks has established an integrated methodology that incorporates detailed planning in transportation, landscape, utilities, assessments of deferred maintenance, and space needs. Each of these has been critical to the success of the University in providing an enriched campus environment while controlling costs. With the limited financial resources available for investment for grounds and facilities, Bencks has molded the University of New Hampshire campus into one of the finest public educational environments in New England, serving as an example for institutions across the country.

Additional articles on the AIA website and at UNH Today

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