Watch: Irvin A. Pearce, AIA- Deitrick Service Medal
William Deitrick Service Medal – Irvin A. Pearce, 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 and headquarters benefactor of AIA North Carolina. This year we are proud to present the Deitrick Service Medal to Irvin A. Pearce, AIA.
Over the past 40 years, Irv Pearce has tailored his architectural practice into an innovative design-oriented firm that has gained regional and national recognition for design excellence coupled with equally exemplary construction.
His concept of architecture was shaped by his military service in Vietnam. He relied on the performance of a well-organized US Army team to survive and complete his missions. Awarded the Bronze Star, and a commendation medal for his conduct, he learned the value of a well-defined mission executed through sound strategy and collaborative teamwork.
Irv has displayed these qualities in his architectural practice for over four decades. He has developed a strategy to build his own firm — one based on design and construction excellence — acquiring partners with skills in both areas and recruiting talented young architects from many parts of the country. As a result, his firm Pearce Brinkley Cease and Lee (PBC+L) – now Clark Nexsen – received over 42 regional, state and national AlA awards, including the AIA North Carolina Firm Award in 2004.
Irv developed a working style that motivated others to give the project their best effort. He provided field leadership that signaled to those around him that the project was a personal pursuit of excellence. His broad base of knowledge allowed him to readily communicate with construction managers, superintendents and tradesmen, earning him their respect. Irv was at ease in both design and construction.
His innovative response to site issues uncovered during construction of the NC State Park Shops Adaptive Reuse project, for example, greatly enhanced the original design intent, resulting in six AIA regional and national design awards.
Irv began his career serving two significant clients: Raleigh-Durham Airport and Cutter Laboratories. They remained his clients four decades later. When prominent architectural firms such as Snohetta and Thomas Phifer were chosen for high profile projects in North Carolina, the State Construction Office sought Pearce and his firm as their partners because of his design and construction excellence.
As a leader in the profession, Irv has been active in the AIA at the local, state and national levels throughout his career. He served as AIA Triangle President and in all other section offices, often for multiple terms. He conceived and implemented a program for increasing membership that won an AlA 2012 National Award of Excellence. Some affectionately referred to it as “Pizza with the President.”
Of that effort, Jamie McKay, 2012 AIA Triangle President said, “ The results of Irv’s Reaching out Firm Visitations initiative were overwhelming. AIA Triangle membership grew by 22% and attendance at events and programs increased by an average of 25%. AIA Triangle also experienced a significant increase in volunteer participation that was vital to this all-volunteer organization.”
Further reinforcing Irv’s lasting contribution to membership in the organization, Associate member Jenny Profet substantiated the firm visitation effort with her own sentiment, “ By visiting our firm Irv gave a face to the AIA. It is far less intimidating to attend an event for the first time when you know that at least one familiar face will be there. I may have eventually joined the AIA after I became licensed as a matter of course. But I would not have joined as an intern if it had not been for the visit. I certainly would not have become involved if Irv had not provided me the opportunity to do so.”
Irv served as AIA North Carolina President in 2012 after holding all other chapter officer positions over a five-year period.
In Irv’s most significant service role for the AIA, he co-chaired of the AIANC design and construction committee. Given his passion and reputation for quality construction, the Chapter put the fate of the new Center’s construction under Irv’s guidance. Daily visits to the site and frequent quality control meetings with the architect proved essential as the Center has become a regional icon of construction excellence and a community center with influence far beyond architecture.
Through Irv’s leadership, over $1 million in in-kind product and services were coordinated for the creation of the Center with Irv personally being responsible for securing more than $400,000 of those donations. This effort enabled the project to move forward in the face of a $700,000 financing gap.
In his letter of nomination for Irv, AIANC 2007 Chapter president, Walt Teague, FAIA, noted, “Irv served with fervor throughout the CfAD project phases to assure the construction was executed with quality and attention to detail a legacy project such as this deserved.”
Irv has generously opened his firm to countless AIA events and gatherings, has served on design awards juries, and has empowered many of his staff to teach at the NC State College of Design, thus engaging the next generation with his holistic philosophy on design and construction. He was also responsible for helping to create and endow the Duncan Stewart Design Scholarship for first year students enrolled in the College of Design.
Perhaps the most important testimony to his legacy, and Irv’s true passion, are the buildings themselves. While there are too many to detail this evening, one in particular seems to embody the spirit of his work. His efforts to save the 1922 War Memorial Auditorium in Raleigh, transformed an aging relic into a world-class venue of music and dramatic art, leading to the transformation of the heart of downtown Raleigh.
Sir Winston Churchill said that “we shape our buildings, then they shape us.” Irv Pearce’s buildings have forever shaped the community where he lives.
AIA North Carolina is honored to present Irvin A. Pearce, AIA with the 2014 William Deitrick Service Medal.