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July 23, 2014

Johnpaul Jones wins a humanities medal


Seattle architect Johnpaul Jones is one of 10 people to win National Humanities Medals for achievements in history, cultural studies, filmmaking, cultural commentary and historic preservation.

Yesterday President Barack Obama announced the winners of the 2013 medals, which will be presented at a White House ceremony July 28.

Other medalists are: literary critic M.H. Abrams; historians David Brion Davis, Darlene Clark Hine and Anne Firor Scott; East Asian scholar William Theodore De Bary; filmmaker Stanley Nelson; radio hosts Diane Rehm and Krista Tippett; and the American Antiquarian Society.

Jones is a founding partner in the 43-year-old Seattle-based firm Jones & Jones Architects + Landscape Architects + Planners.

A press release from the National Endowment for the Humanities said he was recognized for honoring the natural world and indigenous traditions in architecture. It said Jones “has fostered awareness through design and created spaces worthy of the cultures they reflect, the communities they serve, and the environments they inhabit.”

Jones' projects include the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian on the Mall in Washington D.C.; Evergreen State College Longhouse Education and Cultural Center in Olympia; Mercer Slough Nature Park and Environmental Education Center in Bellevue; and Woodland Park Zoo Gorilla Habitat in Seattle.

Jones lives on Bainbridge Island and has spent 40 years as an architect, designing museums, memorials, Native cultural centers, parks, zoological and botanical gardens, and environmental centers.

His firm said his designs express reverence for the earth, respect regional architectural traditions and heighten the understanding of indigenous cultures of America. In the late 1970s Jones helped alter the direction of zoological design by blending architecture and landscape architecture to create more natural environments for animals and educate the public about them, the firm said.

Jones is a fellow in the American Institute of Architects and has won a number of awards, including the 2005 Distinguished Service Award from the University of Oregon (his alma mater), AIA Seattle Medal, Executive Excellence Award from the American Indian Science and Engineering Society, Pietro Belluschi Distinguished Professorship from the University of Oregon and the Island Treasure Award from the Bainbridge Island Art and Humanities Council.

Since 1996, when the first National Humanities Medal was given, 154 people have been honored, and 11 organizations received medals.

Previous medalists include Pulitzer Prize winners Philip Roth and Marilynne Robinson, Nobel Prize winner Toni Morrison, essayist Joan Didion, novelist John Updike and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Elie Wiesel.

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