Distinguished Alumni Award

Alumni 2012


Bill Fain

William H. Fain, Jr., FAIA (B.A. Architecture, 1968)

Partner and Director of Urban Design & Planning, Johnson Fain

Bill Fain has dedicated his professional life to designing spaces and places that advance the practice of urban design. He strives to address the urban challenges that confront the world’s cities, and even suggests that a building should be in some way incomplete, so that only as it gathers with other buildings to shape a public space does it begin to participate in something more meaningful and complete. Boston Globe architecture critic Robert Campbell states “No one knows more than Bill Fain about the problems that beset the world’s cities. But Fain welcomes every problem as a learning experience. He’s convinced that with enough common sense and fellow-feeling, we’ll do better.” Bill’s work involves large-scale projects that are necessarily interwoven with the critical issues of contemporary urban design and place-making, such as job creation, transportation and transit, housing and public open space. The work has been world-wide, with projects across the US, Asia and the Middle East.

A native Californian, Bill earned his B. Arch. from UC Berkeley in 1968 and M. Arch. at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design in 1975, also spending a term at Manchester University in England. In the early 1970s he worked under Jacquelin Robertson as an urban designer in New York Mayor John Lindsay’s Urban Design Group in Manhattan. Continuing his public sector work, he was a senior architect/urban designer for the Boston Redevelopment Authority, and later worked on federal new town programs for HUD in Washington. Moving west, he joined William L. Pereira Associates in 1980 as Director of Urban Design, and partnered with Scott Johnson FAIA to transition the firm to Johnson Fain in 1987. For the last 25 years he has served as Director of Urban Design + Planning, as well as Managing Partner in an office of 70 architects, planners and interior designers, headquartered in downtown Los Angeles.A 2004 Honors Award from the National AIA in Urban and Regional Design recognized his 300-acre Mission Bay Master Plan as having established a new San Francisco neighborhood while embodying the essence of the existing city. Based on the Spanish “vara” block from the San Francisco survey of 1839, vara blocks are pedestrian-friendly, while allowing efficient urban development. Anchored by a new UCSF Medical School campus, the plan seamlessly extends the existing city grid and features a Bay-side linear park that continues the regional open space network. The plan is currently being implemented.

Fain has been successful with a number of high profile competitions. His winning scheme for Beijing’s Central Business District provided for more than twelve million sqm of mixed-use urban development and was implemented prior to the 2008 Olympics. Another competition winner was the Jiangwan New Town Master Plan in central Shanghai. Designed for 100,000 population, the plan set new standards for the region, emphasizing sustainable, transit-served development. AIA’s California Chapter recently recognized two other urban plans for Chinese cities in SiChuan Province—Chengdu and XiChang. Facing enormous growth pressure, the new plans realign the path of urban growth while preserving important environmental resources.

His work has been published and exhibited widely. His Los Angeles Greenway Concept Plan received awards from the AIA and Progressive Architecture, and was featured in the Urban Revisions Exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles. The concept proposed reusing river and flood control channels, former Red Car ROWs, power line easements and recent Metro line segments as open space connectors. Many of these opportunities have been incorporated into the Los Angeles City General Plan update and underpin much of the ongoing work on the Los Angeles River.

Bill has been awarded fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities and was the recipient of a Rome Prize Fellowship at the American Academy in Rome. His Rome plan which reunites the Tiber River and the city earned an award in an open competition of the Forum Tevere promoted by ACER and the Universita’ degli Studi di Roma “La Sapienza”.

He is a board member of the Southern California Institute of Architecture and is actively involved with many civic organizations. He has taught at UC Berkeley, Harvard and SCI-Arc. He frequently writes and lectures on urban design and planning and is the author of “Italian Cities and Landscapes: An Architect’s Sketchbook” and the forthcoming “If Cars Could Talk: Essays on Urbanism.”


Shelley Poticha

Shelley R. Poticha (M.C.P., 1986)

Director for Office of Sustainable housing and Communities, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

Ms. Poticha serves as Director of the Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). A well respected expert in growth management and urban policy, Poticha is responsible for advancing housing and communities that promote affordable, livable and sustainable living environments. She also provides technical and policy support for energy, green building, and integrated housing and transportation programs at HUD and around the nation. Poticha leads HUD’s interagency efforts with the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Transportation to help improve access to affordable housing, more transportation options, and lower transportation costs while protecting the environment in communities nationwide.

Poticha previously served as President and CEO of Reconnecting America, where she became a national leader for the reform of land use and transportation planning and policy with the goal of creating more sustainable and equitable development and served as founding co-chair of the Transportation for America Campaign. Prior to joining Reconnecting America, Poticha was the Executive Director of the Congress for the New Urbanism. In this role, she guided the organization’s growth into a national coalition with a prominent voice in national debates on urban revitalization, growth policy, and sprawl. She also launched a number of key initiatives addressing inter-city revitalization, mixed-income housing, infill development techniques, environmental preservation, alternative transportation policies, and real estate finance reform.

Poticha holds a Master of City Planning from the University of California at Berkeley and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of California, Santa Cruz.


John Wong

John L. Wong, FASLA, FAAR (B.A. Landscape Architecture, 1974)

Managing Principal & Chairman, SWA Group

John L. Wong is an internationally renowned landscape architect with considerable and diverse design experience in North America and Asia. He is currently a Principal Designer and Managing Principal for the SWA Group’s Sausalito office and also serves in the capacity of Chairman of the Board for the firm. He is a Fellow of the American Society of Landscape Architects and the Institute of Urban Design and member of the Urban Land Institute. He received his Bachelor of Arts in Landscape Architecture with Honors from the College of Environmental Design, University of California at Berkeley and a Master of Landscape Architecture in Urban Design from the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University. He was a recipient of the Rome Prize in Landscape Architecture from the American Academy in Rome.

Since joining SWA Group in 1976, John has designed and directed an array of prominent and sustainable projects, including designing and planning of new communities and cities; urban mixed-use commercial and office complexes; hospitality resorts and hotels; corporate and educational campuses; civic, medical and residential projects; to the landscape and urban design of major high-rise complexes and urban districts; and the crafting of public plazas and gardens throughout the world. He has collaborated with numerous renowned architects in North America, including SOM, Gensler, Pei Partnership, Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture, James KM Cheng Architects, Bing Thom Architects and many others. He has been a key design participant and collaborator on the groundscape for many of the world’s tallest buildings, either completed or under construction. These projects include the Burj Khalifa in Dubai (UAE); Shanghai Tower and North Bund Magnolia Plaza in Shanghai, Nanjing Greenland Financial Center in Nanjing , Zero Energy Tower in Guangzhou, Wuhan Greenland Financial Center, Wuhan (China); LG Twin Tower, LG Kangnam and Tower Palace, Seoul (Korea); Lite-on, Taipei, Taiwan and others. He has won over 90 awards and design competitions with selected projects that include the Tokyo University for Foreign Studies, Center for Contemporary Graphic Art at Uzumine (Japan); Stanford University Alumni Center, Green Library, DAPER, Cantor Center for the Visual Arts and numerous other projects within the campus; Cornell University East Hill Village, UC Davis West Village, UC Santa Cruz residential infill at Stevenson, Cowell and Porter; Bentley School, UC San Francisco Regional Medical Center, Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, Tarrant County College at Fort Worth (US); Burnaby Civic Square and Library, Marinaside Crescent (Canada).

John has served as a Studio Lecturer and Visiting Farrand Professor at the College of Environmental Design, Department of Landscape Architecture, UC Berkeley and a Visiting Critic in Landscape Architecture at the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University. His design work has been published in many design journals, publications and books. He is currently serving on the University of California Berkeley’s Design Review Committee.