NORMAN – The American Institute of Architects has awarded the prestigious Thomas Jefferson Award for Public Architecture to Hans E. Butzer, director of the University of Oklahoma Division of Architecture. The honor recognizes an architect in the private sector who has made significant contributions to the quality of public architecture.
“The University of Oklahoma is proud to have Hans Butzer, one of the most respected architects in the nation and a gifted educator,” said OU President David L. Boren. “He is an extremely worthy recipient of the Thomas Jefferson Award.”
Butzer began teaching at OU in 2000 and is known for advocating for excellence in public architecture through his role as an educator. In 2001, Butzer and his wife, Torrey A. Butzer, co-taught a course in which students developed designs for a new landmark boathouse along the river. The work of the students established the vision for what has today become the United States Olympic Rowing Training Facility in Oklahoma City, marked by a series of AIA-award winning boathouses along the Oklahoma River.
In 2003, Butzer established a capstone studio dedicated to Oklahoma City-based urban research studies at the OU Division of Architecture. The studio challenged students to envision a more densely, varied and sustainably developed urban fabric for the city. Speculative studio projects have contributed to the development of some of the most transformative projects in Oklahoma City, including Maywood Park, the downtown John Rex Elementary School, the Core to Shore Master Plan and the proposed multimodal hub at historic Santa Fe Station.
The Butzers are founders of Butzer Architects and Urbanism and have been internationally noted for their design of the Oklahoma City National Memorial. Since its completion, the memorial has become the template for other memorial competitions and designs such as the September 11th memorials at the Pentagon, Shanksville and World Trade Center, as well as the Bonfire Memorial at Texas A&M University, among others.
In 2008, Butzer assembled a team of designers and engineers that would win an international design competition for a new pedestrian bridge in Oklahoma City. The SkyDance Bridge, which spans Interstate 40 to connect Oklahoma City’s central business district to the Oklahoma River, takes its cues from the state bird of Oklahoma, the scissor-tailed flycatcher.
Most recently, Butzer helped guide the visioning for the $18 million redevelopment of downtown Oklahoma City’s Century Center from a defunct 1970s mall into a lively mix of retail and office space. Additionally, the Butzers have collaborated with two other families to redevelop a 1930s warehouse building into their new award-winning architecture office while helping contribute to the resurgence of Oklahoma City’s historic Film Row District.
In 2013, Butzer was named director of the Division of Architecture in OU’s College of Architecture. Following 12 years of planning and advocacy, his vision for an Oklahoma City design center became reality in September 2015 with the opening of the OU Community Design Center in the Film Row District. The center provides OU students the opportunity to work with professionals from architecture and allied disciplines in an urban setting.
Butzer is licensed in the state of Oklahoma and has a German architecture license from the state of North-Rhine/Westphalia. He earned a Bachelor of Architecture with high honors from the University of Texas at Austin and a Master of Architecture from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design.
Based in Washington, D.C., the American Institute of Architects has been the leading professional membership association for licensed architects, emerging professionals and allied partners since 1857. With nearly 300 state and local chapters, the institute serves as the voice of the architecture profession and the resource for its members in service to society.