Ball State professor emeritus leads AIA's 150th anniversary grassroots efforts

Topic: College of Architecture and Planning

April 5, 2007

One Ball State architecture professor emeritus did not wait long to find a new avocation upon retirement.

Three weeks after leaving Ball State in May 2005, Irving Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Architecture Tony Costello, agreed to lead the AIA 150 — Blueprint for America component of the American Institute of Architects' (AIA) national sesquicentennial celebration.

During his nearly 40 years at the College of Architecture and Planning, Costello pioneered the integration of university-based urban design education and public service by establishing Ball State's Community-Based Projects program in 1969. He followed up with the founding of Muncie Urban Design Studio (MUDS) in 1980. Costello also has directed numerous award-winning projects focusing on citizen participation, downtown revitalization, affordable housing and historic preservation.

In anticipation of the AIA sesquicentennial, Costello has led the efforts of an AIA national committee responsible for coordinating more than 160 projects involving thousands of local AIA architects and community partners in their respective cities. He has been traveling the country — most recently stopping in Phoenix and Dayton, Ohio — helping local AIA chapters kick off their projects.

"The scale of initiatives that are being undertaken varies greatly with some addressing regional issues associated with a river valley or major transportation corridor," Costello said. "Others are tackling smaller-scale issues focusing on their community's need for downtown and neighborhood revitalization, affordable housing, adaptive reuse of historic schools or growth management, also known as 'smart growth.'"

Costello's next stop will be the institute's marquee event in New York as part of National Architecture Week, April 8-14. On April 13, he and his wife, Carmen, will participate in a gala celebration dinner at the famed Delmonico's restaurant. The invitation-only, black-tie event will mark the very day in 1857 when the 13 original architects celebrated receiving the institute's charter, Costello said.

"The week will be marked by a congressional proclamation and all 50 governors will follow suit by issuing proclamations in every state," he said. "There will also be hundreds of events across the country — to celebrate the past 150 years and toast the next 50."

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