On Nov. 23, amongst colleagues, friends and family, the AIA East Tennessee bestowed its highest honor, the Gold Medal, upon Robert C. French.
The Gold Medal recognizes those who have made a lasting impact on the architecture profession by producing distinguished work, upholding the traditions of architecture and influencing the future of the profession. The awards celebration included remarks from Dean Jason Young and video remarks from former students, those who contributed to the award nomination and others.
For more than 40 years, French taught architecture and led design/build projects in the College of Architecture and Design. His gracious demeanor combined with his knowledge of the profession influenced the futures of many hundreds of young designers, as they learned not only how to succeed at their chosen craft but also how to be better people, better professionals.
His devotion to his students is almost as legendary as are his humility and ever-present hat.
“Bob French is a consummate professional and extraordinary teacher,” said Scott Wall, professor and interim director of the School of Architecture. “He has had a profound impact on hundreds—if not thousands—of students, including me. He deserves every accolade we can bestow on him. I’m proud to call him my friend.”
In 1972, French graduated from the New School of Architecture, the predecessor to today’s College of Architecture and Design, began practicing in the profession, became a licensed architect and returned to UT to teach students. Read more about Bob French’s career and his retirement in 2018.
During his tenure as a teacher, French was honored with awards from students, so it is particularly fitting that the profession, itself, would recognize Bob French’s lasting contribution to the profession of architecture with its highest honor.