Dan Pitera wins American Institute of Architect’s Charles Blessing Award

August 23, 2018

Rendering of HomeBase, the future home of the DCDC.Detroit Mercy’s Dan Pitera was named winner of the 2018 American Institute of Architect Detroit Chapter’s Charles Blessing Award. Pitera is executive director of Detroit Mercy’s Detroit Collaborative Design Center (DCDC).

This prestigious award is given to recognize an individual who shows leadership in planning and civic issues and exemplifies the vision, commitment and the accomplishments of Charles A. Blessing, FAIA, the visionary Detroit city planner, architect, engineer and educator who committed himself to the pursuit of a higher quality of life for all.

Pitera’s work in the Detroit community has had a tremendous impact on the City’s resurgence, on the northwest Detroit community that Detroit Mercy calls home, and is one reason Detroit is considered to be a national model for community redevelopment efforts.

“As a city thinks about community development, it is important to connect neighborhoods and neighborhood spaces to the people who live, work, play, learn and worship there,” Pitera said. “With this in mind, well-designed neighborhoods and neighborhood spaces are not just for some people, they are for all people. Beautiful and inspiring places are not superficial things. They are an essential human need. They nurture and develop the people who engaged them.”

Will Wittig, dean of the University’s School of Architecture, believes Pitera is the right selection for this year’s award, given his dedication to students and the community through a work ethic characterized as unrelenting.

“We are very pleased to see professor Pitera receive this prestigious and well deserved recognition,” Wittig said. “His leadership has been instrumental in the positive evolution of the city over the past two decades. Through his work with the Detroit Collaborative Design Center and our students at the School of Architecture, he has changed the way development happens in the city as the embodiment of our concept of co-authorship with the community.”

Pitera is a political and social activist who claims to masquerade as an architect. He is the executive director of the Detroit Collaborative Design Center (DCDC) at the University of Detroit Mercy School of Architecture, which received National AIA’s 2017 Whitney M. Young Jr. Award and was included in the 2017 Curry Stone Design Award’s Social Design Circle. Pitera also co-led the Civic Engagement process for the Detroit Works Project Long Term Planning in 2010.

In addition to Pitera’s honor, two School of Architecture graduates will receive awards. Samantha Szeszulski ’16 will receive the AIA Detroit Associate Award. She an architectural designer at Stantec Detroit and earned her master of Architecture from Detroit Mercy. She is also the current AIA Michigan associate director and sits on the AIA National Associates Committee.

Dean Zoyes ’94 also won the Honorary Affiliate Award. He is vice president of the Zoyes Creative Group and has more than 20 years of experience providing creative design solutions and communications for industry professionals throughout Metro Detroit and the U.S.

Winners of this year’s awards will be honored at the 2018 Celebration of Architecture, which takes place on Sept. 20, at Eastern Market's Shed 3. Early Bird tickets are on sale until Sept. 1.

To learn more about Detroit Mercy’s School of Architecture, please visit http://architecture.udmercy.edu/index. To learn more about the Detroit Collaborative Design Center, please visit http://www.dcdc-udm.org/. For more about the AIA Detroit Chapter, please visit http://aiadetroit.com/