Gary J. Nelson, an architect who works in Phoenix's Office of the City Engineer, was recently awarded the Architects Medal by the American Institute of Architects Arizona Chapter.
He is the the first African American to receive the honor since the awards inception in 1981 and also is the first African American architect employed by the City of Phoenix, according to a release.
“The AIA Arizona Architects Medal is awarded to honor and celebrate members of the organization who have advanced the profession of architecture, recognizing their outstanding professional achievements and sense of social responsibility,” the city release stated.
“The nominee's achievements must be viewed as an advancement of the profession.”
Nelson was presented with the medal during the AIA Arizona Design Awards Gala on Nov. 12 at the Phoenix Art Museum.
Nelson has been an architect for 37 years, including four with the city, and “serves as an advocate for minorities and women within his profession,” the release stated.
Highlights of his Phoenix work include the Weather Respite Shelter at 27th and Washington streets, the Phoenix Convention Center shoring wall, Fire Station 62, the renovation of the Footprint Center in downtown and Operation Patch and Paint neighborhood commercial rehabilitation.
A registered architect in 20 states, his private sector work includes project architect of Phoenix's Chase Field, George Washington Carver Museum and Cultural Center and project management of Atlanta's Mercedes Benz Stadium, according to the city.
Nelson is the founder of the Arizona Chapter of the National Association of Minority Architects.
NOMA is a community-based multicultural organization that has programs to introduce architecture to youth in underserved communities, mentor college and emerging professionals and increase the number of minorities and women in architecture.