EL PASO, TEXAS—Last Friday in El Paso, Texas, the Texas Society of Architects presented Kirksey Architecture founder John Kirksey with the Medal for Lifetime Achievement in Honor of Llewellyn W. Pitts FAIA at the 83rd Annual Conference & Design Expo. The Medal for Lifetime Achievement is awarded to a single member each year, recognizing a lifetime of distinguished leadership and dedication to architecture, the profession, and the community. The medal is the Texas Society of Architects’ highest honor.

John’s commitment to industry leadership in both the architectural profession and the community is evident in his decades of service with many organizations. “John is a visionary. He has big, creative ideas with the persuasive charm, charisma, and skill in leadership to show others his vision and the enormous persistence and courage to make things happen,” remarked Kirksey’s President, Wes Good. “John’s forward-thinking nature and service have fueled incredible achievements, from establishing and growing his own architecture firm to spearheading bold initiatives to improve the quality of life and the environment in the Texas Gulf Coast region and beyond.”

John Kirksey grew up in Harlingen, Texas, and attended The University of Texas, graduating in 1970 with Honors from the School of Architecture. In June of 1971, just one year after graduating, he started his own firm, known today as Kirksey Architecture. Kirksey has grown to be one of the top architecture firms in Texas and a nationally recognized leader in sustainability. Leading by example, John built a firm culture focused on the community and the environment-committed to quality, innovation, and the professional growth of its employees. He went on to work with Kirksey staff and environmental scientists to achieve the goal of becoming a carbon-neutral company, which the firm realized in 2019. John led Kirksey into taking on sustainability in a big way—the firm has now certified over 38 million square feet of LEED Projects, provided LEED training courses for 2,200+ industry professionals, and has planted 12,000+ trees as part of an annual tree planting program.

Early on, John saw the value of enhancing the Houston environment by planting trees. As a founding board member and early President of Trees for Houston, John initiated the Trees for Houston Challenge, a challenge to the business community to plant trees in the Houston freeway system with the bi-line of “changing our freeways to treeways.” The Quality of Life Coalition embraced the effort which ultimately led to a large-scale tree planting effort by TxDOT, which has planted over 2.5 million trees in the Houston area freeway system. As a result of these tree-planting efforts, John has been awarded the Community Forestry Award by the Texas Forest Service and the Leadership Award by the Park People. Kirksey Architecture and John were also awarded the Mayors Proud Partners Award on four occasions.

John’s history of community involvement includes serving on the boards of the Memorial Hermann Healthcare System, the Houston Museum of Natural Science, the Galveston Bay Foundation, Trees for Houston, Scenic Houston, the Urban Land Institute, Houston Wilderness, and as President of both the Society for the Performing Arts and NAIOP. In the business community, John has served on the boards of three Houston area banks and the Insurance Corporation of America. Recognizing John’s service to the community and the construction industry, John was this year also awarded the Master Builder Award by the Houston Association of General Contractors and the Legacy Award by Engineering News Record magazine.



Kirksey is a sustainable architecture and interior design firm with more than 38 million sf of LEED projects in their portfolio. With offices in Houston, Austin, and Dallas, Texas, Kirksey is team-based in structure and serves Commercial, Collegiate, Community, pK-12, Government, Healthcare, Hospitality, Science & Technology, and Multifamily Residential markets.