2011 Distinguished Alumni Awards
The College of Environmental Design (CED) honored this year’s Distinguished Alumni Award winners — Topher Delaney, Peter Dodge, and Therese McMillan — at the Oakland Museum of California during the first-annual Berkeley Circus Soirée.
Topher Delaney (A.B. Landscape Architecture 1973) received her bachelor of arts degree at UC Berkeley after studying philosophy and cultural anthropology at Barnard College. Her 40-year career as an environmental artist encompasses a wide breadth of projects that focus on the exploration of our cultural interpretations of landscape architecture, public art, and the integration within the site, these spiritual precepts of “nature.” Her practice, SEAM Studio, has evolved to serve as a venue for the investigation of cultural, social, and artistic narratives “seamed” together to form dynamic physical installations. Delaney has received a significant number of awards and honors for her studio’s installations.
In addition to Ten Landscapes: Topher Delaney, she has been widely published. These publications address the installations of SEAM Studio, which focus on the following themes:
1. Relevance / Why and for what purpose does the subject or form of a specific public art offering exist? As the lead artist of SEAM Studio, Delaney, trained in cultural anthropology, emphasizes the importance of the site’s historical research both geologically, geographically, and culturally. What is the evidence of these historical antecedents in the current expression of public art?
2. Renewal / The team at SEAM Studio strives to create the effect and affect of a site’s grounding and remediation, offering the public an accessible, intimate sanctuary in which to engage, observe, and recalibrate their perception of their relationship to the site and the community in which the public art is located. Delaney, due to her training in landscape architecture and sculpture, emphasizes the integration of a broad spectrum of mediums which are integrated seamlessly together to offer a unique environmental experience.
3. Reflection / What engages our communities in reflecting upon public art? Delaney seeks to activate through the evocation of references embedded in the art forms, both literal and metaphorical, an enjoyment of personal and communal recognition.
4. Evidence of the Hand / Delaney has directed the construction of virtually all her installations. Of particular interest to Delaney is the evocation of the “hand” within her art. Visible excellence in the construction of installations (including quilts, metal sculptures, concrete sculptures, stone sculptures, and terrazzo wall murals) all reference expressions of the arts which demonstrate the extra-ordinary.
As a founding principal of Esherick Homsey Dodge and Davis (EHDD), Peter Dodge (A.B. Architecture 1956) played a significant role in EHDD’s growth as a firm identified with design excellence. Dodge joined Joe Esherick’s practice in 1956, shortly after graduating from UC Berkeley.
Esherick named Dodge an associate at EHDD in 1963. When he became a principal in 1972, EHDD was a firm of 30 professionals with a reputation for elegant houses and a few distinguished larger projects; by the end of his term in 1997, some 80 architects were at work on complex programs for prominent commercial and institutional clients. Dodge was president of the corporation from 1979 to 1985. During his tenure, EHDD earned the AIA California Council (AIACC) Firm Award (1980) and the national AIA Firm of the Year Award (1986), at the time the only firm to have achieved both distinctions. Since 1997, Dodge has been a consulting founding principal to EHDD.
In 2008, Dodge was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award from the AIACC.
Renewing the focus of his early years with Joe Esherick, Dodge started his independent practice, Peter H. Dodge, FAIA, Architect, in 1997 and returned to residential work for its attention on design and to enjoy a ready rapport with clients. And, in a natural evolution of his long-time relationships with key clients, he continues to contribute as a consulting architect to Mills College in Oakland and is designing a new smart car dealership with RAB Motors in San Rafael.
In 1981, Dodge founded the CAL ARKS, UC Berkeley’s first architecture alumni association, with fellow Berkeley alum Wally Costa. He served as president of the organization until 1984. Shortly after CAL ARKS disbanded, Dodge and Myra Brocchini convinced a new dean of the college to sponsor a new alumni association, the College of Environmental Design Alumni Association (CEDAA), which grew to 11,000 members between 1990 and 2008. He served as the first president of that association as well, from 1990–91.
Therese W. McMillan
Therese W. McMillan (M.C.P. 1984) began her career in urban planning at UC Davis. She received her B.S. in environmental policy analysis and planning in 1981, which included an internship with the California Transportation Commission in Sacramento, cementing her career-long interest in transportation. After UC Davis, she pursued graduate studies at CED, where she was a member of the first graduating class of the dual master’s program in transportation, receiving an M.S. in civil engineering science and a M.C.P. She was a member of the CED alumni board from 2005 to 2009, serving as both vice chair and chair.
McMillan’s accomplishments include twenty-five years with the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, the regional transportation planning agency for the San Francisco Bay Area, encompassing 9 counties and 101 municipalities. Entering as a transportation planner in 1984, she advanced through MTC’s diverse portfolio to eventually become its Deputy Executive Director for Policy, a post she held from 2001 to 2009.
Top among her achievements was the steady advancement of regional transportation planning, embracing performance measurement and program-based funding and advocacy for transit expansion, and integrating transportation and land use policy and investment through transit-oriented development. She assisted in developing climate change legislation at the state level and oversaw the region’s first comprehensive freight plan. McMillan developed extensive knowledge of federal, state, and regional transportation funding and shared that expertise for six years as an instructor for the graduate transportation studies program at the Mineta Transportation Institute at California State University, San Jose.
Throughout her career, McMillan embraced principles of organizational coordination and collaboration to define problems, craft solutions, and implement strategic change. This philosophy and her track record in the field were instrumental in her appointment by President Barack Obama in July 2009 to the post of Deputy Administrator for the Federal Transit Administration in the U.S. Department of Transportation. McMillan now engages in delivering transit projects and programs under the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act; actively participates as part of the President’s Partnership for Sustainable Communities initiative; oversees FTA’s core transit programs, including strengthening the agency’s civil rights functions; and contributes to the emerging discussions on reauthorization of the Surface Transportation Program.