AIA Award of Merit: George Wildgen

In February 2000, George Wildgen retired from a distinguished and influential career in the fields of architecture, urban planning and design spanning more than 40 years.

Wildgen came to Arkansas in 1957 with a degree in Public Administration and Urban Planning from the University of Colorado to work with the chambers of Hot Springs and North Little Rock. He then headed Little Rock’s Urban Progress Association, a private, nonprofit group of influential business and civic leaders pledged to the support of comprehensive and workable planning, development and redevelopment through effective coalescence of government, business and concerned citizens.

Simultaneously, Wildgen assumed the position of executive director of the Arkansas Chapter AIA and the Arkansas State Board of Architects, serving in those positions for 18 and 25 years respectively.

His AIA and state board positions provided him the opportunity to be of valuable assistance to the University of Arkansas School of Architecture. He served on the School of Architecture Professional Advisory Board for 10 years. He was a periodic guest lecturer on design services marketing and twice provided the school’s commencement address.

A skilled communicator, Wildgen was effective in elevating public awareness of good design and of the architects that make it happen. His articles were published in several professional journals and an essay, “The Politics of Urban Design,” was published internationally.

In recognition of his service to the profession, Wildgen was elected to national honorary membership in the American Institute of Architects — the highest recognition the profession can bestow on a non-architect.