Architect Kelly Sutherlin McLeod Recipient of 2015 Distinguished Alumni Award from USC Architectural Guild

May 14, 2015

KellySutherlinMcLeodCONTACT: Allison Engel 213/740-1927

Architect Kelly Sutherlin McLeod, who has restored several 20th century design masterworks in Southern California, was honored with the 2015 Distinguished Alumni Award from the USC Architectural Guild on May 6.

McLeod received her award at the 56th annual USC Architectural Guild Dinner, held on the gounds of The Gamble House in Pasadena, the historic Greene and Greene home for which she was the project architect during a $3.5 million conservation and seismic retrofit a decade ago. McLeod, who graduated with USC School of Architecture degrees in 1982 and 1983, lived in the Arts and Crafts home as a scholar-in-residence while at USC, the first female architecture student to do so.

In addition to several homes designed by Charles and Henry Greene, McLeod has restored structures by Richard Neutra, R.M. Schindler and Frank Gehry ’54, as well as the Centenary Restoration of The Japanese House and Gardens at the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens. The midcentury modern offices of Kelly Sutherlin McLeod Architecture Inc., in Long Beach, another conservation project she oversaw, are the former offices of architect Edward Killingsworth ’40, her mentor.

At the May 6 event, McLeod was paid tribute by newly installed USC Provost Michael Quick, USC School of Architecture Dean Qingyun Ma and Guild president, architect Martha Ball ’85, among others.

Quick noted that McLeod and her firm will lead the conservation architecture on the USC Pacific Asia Museum over the coming years. “If her work on The Gamble House is any indicator of the quality we can expect, I’m sure the USC Pacific Asia Museum will stand among the most impressive structures in the region,” he said.

Dean Ma said that McLeod’s conservation interests are both local and global, noting that he accompanied her several years ago when she was a delegate to the UNESCO World Heritage Preservation Site in the ancient village of Laijiang, China.

He also recognized McLeod, who is a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects, for serving on civic commissions and for sharing her writing, research and knowledge with institutions such as the International Council of Museums, the American Institute of Architects’ national convention, The Getty Conservation Institute’s Conservation of Modern Architecture Initiative and, most especially USC Architecture. “Kelly has taught courses in our Heritage Conservation program, served on critical juries and been a mentor to many students,” Ma said.

He also recognized her for serving on USC Architecture’s board of councilors, being a life member of the USC Architectural Guild and serving on the Guild board.

Janice Jerde, wife of the late Jon Jerde ’66, the first recipient of the Guild’s Distinguished Alumni Award 30 years ago, presented McLeod with her commendation.

Janice Jerde noted that as an architect herself, she thought it was especially significant for USC to honor a woman in the profession and to have McLeod be the first woman it has awarded this honor.

“Kelly has the trifecta we all want: a notable career, a long marriage and a lovely family,” she said. “She serves as a shining example to young female architects.”

McLeod said it never occurred to her that she would be considered for the recognition. “I am deeply honored, and humbled,” she told the audience.

McLeod said she prefers to be recognized simply as an architect, rather than a preservation architect or historic architect. “The concern for heritage conservation is a common thread that connects my projects whether they be new construction or preservation,” she said.

As was noted in a tribute video shown at the dinner, McLeod has brought conservation architecture into the mainstream.

Brenda Levin, president of Levin & Associates Architects, herself a well-known preservation architect, put it this way in the video: “Kelly is a scholar in Japanese architecture, Greene and Greene and midcentury modern. She is able to bridge many worlds, and she is doing it with great skill and talent.”

The video also included admiring remarks from Gehry; Robert Harris, former USC Architecture dean; Christina Yu Yu, director of the USC Pacific Asia Museum; Trudi Sandmeier, director of USC’s graduate programs in heritage conservation, and several others, along with a look at many of her projects.

The USC Architectural Guild has, since 1958, provided financial support and professional guidance to the students, faculty, and alumni of the USC School of Architecture.

Guild president Ball, of the firm Harley Ellis Devereaux, recounted a few of the organization’s achievements at the dinner, including doubling the number of members who mentor current USC Architecture students, holding its most successful fundraising golf tournament to date and sponsoring a well-received Career Week on campus that culminated in a sold-out Firm Fair.

[PHOTO: Kelly Sutherlin McLeod at her architectural offices in Long Beach. Photo by Roger Snider.]