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October 6, 2015

Raymond Cekauskas, 2015 AIAD Gold Medal Speech

This year, AIA Detroit was proud to Present Raymond Cekauskas with the AIA Detroit Gold Medal for his vision and dedication to the organization as we established ourselves as an independent local chapter. Our attendance at this year’s Celebration was unprecedented, so to ensure that everyone who was there has a chance to read what Ray thoughtfully expressed on stage, we have published his speech here:

To my friends,

When I was chapter president in 2010, it was a time of great change and growth for our organization. Many ideas about how we should approach the future were introduced and debated. Old ways met new ways and at times consensus became difficult between colleagues who were positioned on opposite sides. Fortunately, we got through those times in fine fashion and grew stronger because of it.

During this period of change, I was fortunate to be part of a continuous team of chapter presidents who shared the same values and the same vision of the future. With the support of membership, we drove an evolution over several years that redefined the AIA as a more modern, robust and professionally relevant organization. This evolution continues to this day with informed and energetic leadership.

As architects of Detroit, we are in the midst of great opportunity in such a historic city; a city I believe represents the pinnacle of the American Dream. There are many more buildings and spaces that need to be designed and constructed here, hopefully by you. As you know, it can be very difficult taking what you’ve learned in architecture school and what you believe in, and apply those ideals in the real world. We all need to keep setting our bar high and make this thing that we do, not just a job or a career, but a life’s work that we all can be proud of.

The award of the Gold Medal is very special to me and for that I am deeply grateful. Having made many friends and enjoyed many years of meaningful fellowship, I would like to personally thank everyone who helped make this recognition happen. I would like to thank my wife, Lise Newman, an outstanding architect and devoted mother, for her years of patience and understanding and my three lovely daughters, Alessa, Anya and Amelie, who are in their own right, bright and considerate human beings.

To the seasoned architects out there I ask that you take a moment out of every busy day and offer an insight or perspective to a younger architect that can’t be answered by a book or a website. Your years of experience are invaluable and should be shared. And for the young architects out there who make an effort to listen, remember to follow your heart and your dreams. As Henry David Thoreau once wrote: “Dwell near the river in which your life flows”, because when you do, you will be a happier person who can then give to others.

Thank you,
Raymond Cekauskas, AIA

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