SACD dean earns AIA Detroit’s Gold Medal Award

August 21, 2023

Dan Pitera poses for a portrait.University of Detroit Mercy School of Architecture & Community Development (SACD) Dean Dan Pitera was recently recognized as AIA Detroit’s 2023 Gold Medal Award recipient. 

Considered to be AIA Detroit’s highest honor, the gold medal recognizes distinguished service to the theory and practice of architecture or to the local chapter of the American Institute of Architects. 

Pitera, who is also a professor of Architecture and Community Development at Detroit Mercy, will receive the award during the chapter’s 2023 Celebration of Architecture, planned for Sept. 21 at Eastern Market. 

“It is still sinking in that I received the Gold Medal,” Pitera said. “I truly believe that I share this recognition with every faculty member, student, staff and administrator at SACD.” 

Pitera has served as dean of UDM’s School of Architecture & Community Development since 2019. He joined the University in 1999 as executive director of the Detroit Collaborative Design Center (DCDC), a role he held for 20 years.  

DCDC, SACD’s nonprofit community design organization, earned several honors during Pitera’s tenure, including the National AIA’s 2017 Whitney M. Young Jr. Award. 

Pitera serves as treasurer of AIA Michigan’s board of directors and won AIAA Detroit’s 2018 Charles Blessing Award. He was inducted into the College of Fellows of the American Institute of Architects in 2010 and was a 2004-05 Loeb Fellow at Harvard University. 

Receiving AIA Detroit’s Gold Medal Award is much more than an individual honor for Pitera, who knows it reflects on SACD’s mission and work. 

“Our community has a long history of working together to engage the very messy and complex issues that others either miss or dismiss," Pitera said. “We embrace and work toward a cultural understanding that well-designed spaces are for all people, not just some people. We champion work that confronts climate change and climate justice and ultimately prepares for a near-term future of climate migration. We strive for a better symbiotic relationship between buildings, people and the environment. 

“Receiving the Gold Medal should not be about the person who won the award. Instead, it is a wonderful acknowledgement and amplification of the importance of this work to society at large.” 

Learn more about University of Detroit Mercy’s School of Architecture & Community Development.