Architecture, engineering, construction industry leadership transitions for March 2005.

Terry Sejnowski, head of the Salk Institute’s Computational Neurobiology Laboratory, and senior fellow of the Design Futures Council has been named the Francis Crick Chair. Currently, Sejnowski and his colleagues at Salk are building the Crick-Jacobs Center, created in 2003 to futher study of Crick’s twin interests: molecular genetics and neuroscience.

Last month, HOK launched a new division of its Dallas practice: a four-person team devoted to planning, landscape architecture and urban design.The members: Mark Bowers, director of planning/landscape architecture; William Nicholson II, senior landscape architect and recreation practice leader; Wade Peterson, senior landscape architect and team operations Leader; and Farzine Hakimi, team design leader. HOK has been a presence in Dallas for 32 years. The new HOK team most recently worked in the Texas offices of HNTB Corporation. Both Bowers and Hakimi previously worked at HOK from 1989 to 1999.

Back to the east, HOK’s St. Louis office has named Bill Odell chairman of a firm-wide endeavour in science and technology.
Odell is a senor vice president/principal and in his new role he will oversee 60 staff in HOK’s offices, worldwide on matters involving research/education spaces for public and private ventures.

At Shepley Bulfinch Richardson and Abbott, there are five new principals: William H. Colehower, director of master planning; Stephen Erwin, a senior member of SBRA’s Education Practice Group; Carolyn C. Judge, a senior member of the firm’s Healthcare Practice Group; Uma Ramanathan, a healthcare planner and programmer who developed the SBRA “Design Toolkit”—automated software used for generating departmental space programs; and Angela Watson, a member of the firm’s Healthcare Practice Group. SBRA also used the occasion to note the number of female leaders within the firm. In addition to Carol Wedge, appointed president in the past year, the following stats apply to its 125-member staff: one out of five of their Board of Directors is female; half of the management committee; 33 percent of the principals; 30 percent of the senior associates; and 47 percent of the staff overall.

The Cooper-Hewitt Museum named four new board members earlier this year, with widely diverse professional backgrounds: Elizabeth M. Ainslie, owner of her eponymous interior design firm; John Maeda, graphic designer and an MIT computer scientist; Kurt Andersen, host of Public Radio’s “Studio 360”; and Michael Francis, executive vice president of marketing for retail chain Target.

After five years away, engineer Andrew Huck has returned to Burt Hill Kosar Rittelmann Associates. Following a more extended stretch of 14 years, architect Randy Davis has also rejoined the fold as senior project architect.

Monica Bell has been promoted to Global Director of Business Development and Marketing at CUH2A, along with Joe Zawistowski, who is now Global Manager of Business Development and Marketing. The firm recently opened new offices in some enviable locales: San Bruno (read: San Francisco) and Paris.

Tom Bast in now healthcare director in OWP/P’s Phoenix office, with a 35-member staff of architects, engineers and planners. He comes to the firm from Hammel, Green and Abrahamson.

Jerry Nagel, architect and a founder of Denver’s RNL (Rogers/Nagel/Langhart) died of pneumonia at age 81 on Feb. 17. Before starting the firm, Nagel was a flying hero in WWII, logging more than 60 combat missions over England. After the war, he finished his interrupted studies at Yale University and in the ‘60s teamed with John Rogers.

Yes, when a building as famed as the Plaza Hotel is in question, going condo is considered an unreasonable transition to generations of sentimental New Yorkers who associate it with the city’s most glamorous landmarks. It has been used as a backdrop for films including The Great Gatsby and has served as the site for storied events including Truman Capote’s Black-and-White Ball. The building’s owners have revealed plans to turn the 800+ hotel rooms into about 200 condominiums (and a smaller hotel). Outrage includes websites: www.friendsoftheplaza; and the following statement by the New York Landmarks Conservancy: “We believe this threat to the Plaza has generated the greatest preservation interest in a building than we’ve seen in a long time.” The organization urges contacting Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Landmarks Commissioner Robert Tierney.