John Kirksey is honored as AGC Houston’s 2020 Master Builder at the APEX Awards Gala

HOUSTON, TEXAS — The Associated General Contractors (AGC) Houston presented John Kirksey, Chairman and founder of Kirksey Architecture, with the 2020 Master Builder Award at the APEX Gala for his invaluable contributions to the industry and community at large. The AGC Houston's Awards for Project Excellence (APEX) recognizes firms in the industry for their excellence in construction. The APEX “A Starry Night” Gala was held on Saturday, May 22nd, at The Houstonian Hotel after being postponed multiple times due to COVID-19. 

The AGC Houston "Master Builder" award is presented biennially at the APEX gala. The honor recognizes an individual or organization for their contributions and commitment to advance the commercial built environment in the greater Houston area. The term "Master Builder" comes from early construction history. It was a title of the highest respect, reserved for individuals involved in the design and construction of structures that enhance the community.

“We are all so proud of John for receiving this honor. He truly embodies everything the term Master Builder stands for. John continues to positively impact the greater Houston Area due to his dedication to sustainable smart design, community involvement, and generosity,” says Kirksey President Wes Good. 

John Kirksey grew up in Harlingen, Texas. He attended The University of Texas, graduating in 1970 with honors from the School of Architecture. John, his wife, Kyle, and daughter, Shawn, moved to Houston after graduation, where John accepted a position with the architectural firm of Neuhaus and Taylor (3DI). After six months, John moved to the firm of CRS. In June of 1971, one year out of UT, John started his own firm, John Kirksey and Associates, known today as Kirksey Architecture.

Over its 50 years of operation, Kirksey has grown to a staff of over 130 with offices in Houston and Austin, working in 10 project-type specific teams. John serves as Chairman of the organization. Kirksey has been recognized with over 200 design and firm awards, including Firm of the Year by the Texas Society of Architects. In 2017, Kirksey Architecture was ranked as the number 10 firm in the US by Architect Magazine.

John remains active professionally and, at 41 years of age, was elevated to the title of a Fellow by the American Institute of Architects or FAIA. He has served on the Executive Committee of the Houston AIA, on the Steering Committee of the Urban Land Institute, and as President of the Houston Chapter of the NAIOP (National Association of Industrial and Office Parks).

John has a long history of community involvement, including the following:

  • Founding Board Member and early President of Trees for Houston
  • Founding Board Member of the Galveston Bay Foundation
  • President of the Society for the Performing Arts
  • President of the George H Hermann Association
  • Board Member of the Hermann Healthcare System
  • Board Member of the Memorial Hermann Healthcare System
  • Board Member of the Houston Museum of Natural Science
  • Board Member of the Buffalo Bayou Partnership
  • Board Member of Scenic Houston and recipient of the Scenic Visionary Award
  • Board Member of Houston Wilderness and recipient of their Wildlife Award

Early on, John saw the value of enhancing the Houston environment with the planting of trees. As President of Trees for Houston, John initiated the Trees for Houston Challenge, a challenge to the industry to plant trees in the Houston freeway system with the bi-line of “changing our freeways to treeways.” The Quality of Life Coalition pick up the effort, resulting in a large-scale tree-planting effort by TxDOT, which has planted over 1.5 million trees in the Houston-area freeway system. Additionally, over the last 34 years, employees of Kirksey Architecture have planted trees as their Holiday “thank you” gift to their clients, with over 11,000 trees planted to date. As a result of these tree-planting efforts, John has been awarded the Community Forestry Award by the Texas Forest Service, the Leadership Award by the Park People, and both John and the firm have been awarded the Mayors Proud Partners Award on five occasions.

Master Builder Recipients include:
1994    S.I. Morris, FAIA, Morris Architects
1996    Walter P. Moore, Jr. Ph.D., Walter P Moore
1998    Robert C. Lanier, Houston Mayor 1992-98
2000    Harris County Sports Authority
2002    Dr. Richard E. Wainerdi, Texas Medical Center
2004    Patrick J. Kiley, AGC Houston
2006    Archbishop Emeritus Joseph A. Fiorenza, Houston-Galveston Diocese
2008    Ed Wulfe, Wulfe & Co., Inc.
2012    William A. Daigneau, The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center
2014    Leo Linbeck, Jr., Linbeck Group, LLC
2016    Paul G. Bell, P.G. Bell Company
2018    Peter Dawson, Texas Children's Hospital

Additionally, Melissa O'Neil, a Vice President and Senior Project Manager at Kirksey, participated as an APEX Awards judge. 

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