Landmarks Association of St. Louis

Jamie Cannon Receives Landmarks’ 2009 President’s Award

June 8, 2009

At Landmarks Association's annual membership meeting that took place this past Sunday, June 7 at St. Alphonsus "Rock" Church on North Grand Boulevard, Board President Bill Wischmeyer awarded Jamie Cannon (FAIA) the 2009 "President's Award."  Mr. Cannon was unfortunately unable to attend the meeting due to a last minute conflict, so long-time friend and colleague Carolyn Toft (former Executive Director of Landmarks) accepted the award in his stead.  Landmarks President William P. Wischmeyer delivered the following remarks about Jamie:

In an era of celebrity architects, the American Institute of Architects, at its national convention last month, chose to highlight the work of another type of architect. A recognition that is long overdue. Referring to them as citizen architects, it chose as a logo a portrait of Thomas Jefferson.  What is a Citizen Architect?

The AIA underscored the idea that society and the profession benefit from civically engaged architects, and commends all Citizen Architects for their dedication and service to their community, profession, and country with the hope that such work will inspire and motivate other members to serve in the civic realm.

The recipient of the Landmarks Association's 2009 President's Award, Jamie Cannon, is our community's first and foremost Citizen Architect.  And in my mind and that of many others, a celebrity and inspiration as well.

Jamie has served the professional community as president of the St. Louis Chapter of the American Institute of Architects and chair of AIA's St. Louis Scholarship Trust Committee and was awarded AIA's highest honor, membership in the College of Fellows.

He has served his alma mater, Washington University in countless ways. With students, he is enthusiastic, optimistic, encouraging and, of course, funny.  He is a natural teacher. In 1994 he received the school's first Dean's Medal. He has served as an advisor to Ranken Technical College as it ramped up its architectural offerings.

A man of faith, he has been an active member of Pilgrim Congregational United Church of Christ and Parkway United Church of Christ. He has served on the Board of Eden Theological Seminary.

He has served on commissions in the cities of Chesterfield, Town and Country, East St. Louis, Midland, Michigan.  He participated in the development of St. Louis Downtown plans 1987 and 1993.

Those of you here today outside of the profession and these institutions may know Jamie through his many contributions to the pages of the Post-Dispatch. Whether it be ideas to enliven downtown, meditations on the 9/11 site, or prescient cautions on Ballpark Village, they are Jamie at his finest, full of good sense, good will and good ideas.  That combination is the most effective form of advocacy, perhaps the most important role of the Citizen Architect.

For seven years Landmarks was the beneficiary of this energy.  Those years turned out to be the best of times and the worst of times.  In 1999 downtown was beginning the transformation into a true neighborhood, and the city's neighborhoods were dealing with transformations of their own. It is not surprising that politicians, residents, the Board of Education, developers, and, of course, preservationists should find them selves at odds over strategies and desired outcomes. Indeed, Landmarks found itself at odds with the National Trust, or at least with its president anyway.

For Landmarks these were, in the terms of the Chinese proverb, interesting times. We could not have had a better leader than Jamie. On leaving office some three years ago his advice to me, and the Board, was to do what we think is right, and let the chips fall where they may.  Some may regard this as impolitic, even reckless in this current environment of diminishing resources.  I disagree.  We have a mission to do.  Our membership expects us remain true to it.  Those who preceded us in leadership capacities expect no less. With Architecture St. Louis we have a new tool, and opportunities to educate, reach out and grow support for preservation in the City, County and Metro East. A risk?  Maybe. But we have seen gratifying results already.

So, perhaps Jamie's greatest legacy to us who carry on is the example he sets:  a cheerful warrior, an iron fist in a velvet glove. For that alone I am humbled to award Jamie the 2009 Presidents award.