A career motivated by passion to preserve and advocate for historic black communities anchors the architect’s nomination
Burchell “Burt” Pinnock, FAIA, has been recognized with the William C. Noland Medal by AIA Virginia for his exceptional career and commitment to preserve and celebrate historic black communities and create opportunities for future generations within and beyond those communities. As the highest honor bestowed by AIA Virginia upon an architect, the Noland Medal is intended to recognize a distinguished body of accomplishments, sustained over time, spanning a broad spectrum of the profession, and transcending the scope of normal professional activities.
For more than 30 years, Pinnock was a voice for responsible design in many urban landscapes of Virginia, especially Richmond. His passion is found on a variety of cultural, master planning, residential, and adaptive reuse work for clients such as the City of Richmond, Black History Museum and Cultural Center, the Virginia Civil Rights Memorial Plaza, and the Richmond Slave Trail Commission. This important work and meaningful community impact led him to the appointment of the City of Richmond’s co-chair for the Richmond 300 Advisory Council.
Pinnock, seeing the opportunity to make a difference in Richmond’s urban neighborhoods, co-founded Storefront for Community Design, a nonprofit design center that works to create human connections, foster quality community development, and strengthen the legacy of Richmond’s urban areas. Richmond residents still live with the effects of inequitable planning practices and this volunteer-based collaborative draws on the talents of young architects and designers and city leaders to facilitate projects. Pinnock, a board member, also directly volunteers architectural services through dozens of pro-bono design sessions and helped facilitate large-scale community engagement workshops.
In his nomination letter, Professor of Humanities at the University of Richmond, Edward L. Ayers, recalled Pinnock’s remarkable skills while working on the university’s Burying Ground Memorialization Committee. The work required Pinnock to learn the complex history of the site, instruct the University of other work done in other places, translate design principles into language widely understood by non-designers, and win the trust of the descendants who were outraged and hurt by the university’s actions in the past.
Pinnock, says Ayers, accomplished all of the goals while also leading the committee’s members from the beginning to the end of its complex proceedings.
“Others can talk about the remarkable structures Burt has designed and overseen. I can testify to the remarkable sense of community and common purpose Burt created among people who shared little before he joined us,” Ayers noted in the nomination letter.
The honor is in memory of William C. Noland, FAIA, one of the founders of the AIA in Virginia, its second President, and Virginia’s first member to be elevated to AIA Fellowship.