The Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters or MIAL honored Robert Ivy with the Noel Polk Lifetime Achievement Award last April. Robert Ivy is currently the Chief Executive Officer and Executive Vice President of the American Institute of Architects or AIA.

The American Institute of Architects was founded in 1857, and since then, it has worked to create buildings that are secure, healthy, sustainable and valuable. Members of this worldwide organization work to make sure that public policies are passed that promote a code of ethics and conduct that lead architects toward high professional standards. Members receive the resources and tools that make it possible for them to do the best job possible in their careers. The organization also enlists the help of those in the government and the public to find viable solutions to problems.

Mr. Ivy took his current role at the AIA in 2011, and since that time, he has transformed the organization into one that can benefit the architectural community in the 21st century. His plan has been to create a new type of organization that can nurture and influence all of its members. He and the organization hope to bring the unique value that architects hold to the attention of the greater public. As a means of doing this, Mr. Ivy has been moving the organization into the 21st century by adding digital technology to the forefront. He has also embarked on a public awareness campaign that has already earned awards. Also at the top of his list of things to do is bringing new ways that the organization can help architects address the issues of climate change and how design affects public health.

Ordinarily, Noel Polk Lifetime Achievement Award goes to artists and patrons of the arts whose contributions to the creation and support of art goes beyond what anyone else has done. For the first time, this honor has been given to someone who is an architect rather than an artist or patron of the arts. Furthermore, the organization has only given this particular honor to a very short list of people, including Morgan Freeman, Leontyne Price and Eudora Welty.

Mr. Ivy received his Bachelor of Arts degree in English from The University of the South in 1969. He graduated cum laude with a minor in French. In 1976, he graduated from Tulane University with a Master of Architecture.

Nancy LaForge President of MIAL stated that Robert Ivy was the only Mississippian who brought architecture into the consciousness of the general public.

The President of the AIA Carl Elefante also sang Robert Ivy’s praises when he said that the architect is currently practicing architecture as well as writing and editing publications on the subject as he is also the CEO of AIA. Since joining the AIA, Mr. Ivy’s presence has made this organization a global one and caused people to join at the highest levels since its beginning 160 years ago. According to Mr. Elefante, all of this makes Robert Ivy worthy of the honor that has been bestowed upon him.

The lifetime achievement award is not the first time that Robert Ivy has received an honor recognizing his brilliance in architecture. The national architecture fraternity Alpha Rho Chi also acknowledged him with the title of “Master Architect.” The University of Arkansas Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design also gave him the Dean’s Medal in 2017.

Before Mr. Ivy took the reins at the AIA, he was the editor-in-chief for the Architectural Record and was also the recipient of several awards for his service with that organization. One example of an accolade he received at that time was the “National Magazine Award.”

Also before his tenure began at AIA, Mr. Ivy was the editor-in-chief of McGraw-Hill’s Architectural Record. With Mr. Ivy at the helm of this organization, it became the architectural journal that was read more than any other architectural journal in the world. This particular journal also went on to win several awards, and the National Magazine Award for General Excellence was just one of them.

Mr. Ivy was also in charge of Architectural Record’s growth in China. While there, Mr. Ivy was instrumental in bringing a Mandarin-language version of Architectural Record to China. He also oversaw the publication’s growth in the Middle East.

Mr. Ivy is also an author, and he wrote a biography that was published in 2001. “Fay Jones: Architect” is currently in its third edition. This book brought the works of Architect Fay Jones to a new generation of readers as it demonstrated the fact that she was highly inspired by the architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright. As has occurred with many of the works that Mr. Ivy has touched, this book was cited by The Art Library Society of North America for its “highest standards of scholarship, design, and production.”

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