The U.S. Commission of Fine Arts announces its decision on May 19 to name Earl A. Powell III, Director of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, to succeed architect David Childs, FAIA, as the new Chairman of the Commission. At the same meeting, the Commission voted the artist Pamela Nelson of Dallas, Texas, as Vice-Chairman. Mr. Powell's election as Chairman marks a new period of leadership of the Commission along with the appointment of Thomas Luebke, AIA, as Secretary of the Commission in March 2005.
"Serving as Chairman of the Fine Arts Commission has been one of the greatest privileges of my career," said Mr. Childs. "I regret that the demands of my current projects require that I resign the chairmanship but am certain that Earl Powell will capably pick up the reins." Citing his accomplishment in guiding the Commission through its transition from the 31-year leadership of the late J. Carter Brown, whose seat on the Commission Mr. Childs assumed in 2002, and the necessity of concentrating his attention on his architectural practice, including the design of the Freedom Tower at the site of the former World Trade Center, Mr. Childs requested that the Commission select a new Chairman.
In addition to the election of Mr. Powell as Chairman, the Commission also announces the appointment of the architect and historic preservationist John Belle, FAIA, of Beyer Blinder Belle in New York, for a four-year term which began in April 2005. Mr. Belle succeeds Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel, who served two full terms on the Commission.
The Commission of Fine Arts was established in 1910 to create a permanent advisory agency to make available to the government expert opinions on questions of art and architecture. The Commission's mission, as design proposals are brought before it, is to safeguard and improve the appearance and symbolic significance of Washington, D.C. for the benefit of citizens of the United States and foreign visitors. It is the only independent agency whose purpose is to render decisions on designs brought before it by the Federal and District of Columbia government agencies. Specifically, the Commission provides knowledgeable advice on matters pertaining to architecture, landscape architecture, and the related arts to all branches and departments of the Federal and District of Columbia governments when such matters affect the National Capital. In addition, the Commission advises on the design of medals and of circulating and commemorative coins. It also must approve the siting and design of American memorials, both in the United States and on foreign soil, in accordance with the American Battle Monuments Act and the Commemorative Works Act. Recent memorials that have been approved by the Commission include the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, the George Mason Memorial, the National Japanese-American Patriotism Memorial and the National World War II Memorial.
The Commission is composed of seven members, appointed by the President. Since the Commission's inception, more than 108 distinguished architects, landscape architects, painters, sculptors, and laymen in the field of fine arts have given freely of their time, experience, and professional skills in advising the President, the Congress, and Government agencies on design matters.