Time-Honored Thomas Jefferson Tribute

I find it informative and inspirational to discover historic examples of artistic tributes. Most of the stories have a common triangular pattern. The tribute triangle: tribute intention … design creativity … and desired recipient emotion.

Richard Green and I were high school mates with like-attention to scholastics and athletics in northeast Ohio.  Richard studied architecture at NC State University and I, chemical engineering. He joined Hugh Stubbins and Associates, located in Cambridge, MA in 1968 and became president in 1983, taking over those reins from founder Hugh A. Stubbins.

The firm designed several major projects including the Congress Hall in Berlin, Countway Library of Medicine at Harvard, Citicorp Center in New York, Landmark Tower in Yokohama (the tallest building in Japan) and the Treasury Building in Singapore among many others.  They were one of the first offices to be awarded the American Institute of Architects Firm Award and won numerous design awards over the years.

In 1980 Stubbins was awarded the Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medal at Monticello. The University of Virginia and the Thomas Jefferson Foundation at Monticello annually present their highest honor to a single individual in the field of architecture, law and citizen leadership, during their joint Founder’s Day activities each April.  The Foundation owns and operates Monticello.

While there for the presentation, Stubbins discovered a sterling silver cup that Jefferson had designed in 1810.  Jefferson had eight of the cups made by renowned silversmith John Letelier and when Jefferson died, the eight were divided among Martha Jefferson Randolph’s children and one grandson.  Six of those eight originals are still preserved but two remain missing.

My guess is that the simple elegance of the design, the hand wrought method of design and the originator’s historic legacy inspired Stubbins and his leadership team at the firm to inaugurate the use of replica cups as service awards in five-year increments.  At the appropriate five-year increment, the employee is presented his or her cup with their name engraved and the notation of years of Service.

Here is Richard’s cup inscribed “TWENTIETH ANNIVERSARY, RICHARD GREEN, AIA” adjacent the Stubbins logo and year earned.  20160221_120244_HDR_resized - CopyKudos to the Stubbins leadership team for honoring service and loyalty with an artifact of historical significance and beauty.  How apropos!  Jefferson, the statesman, architect, now with one of his own creations used to celebrate the craft of architecture two centuries later.

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