Correction appended February 01, 2008

RK Stewart, FAIA, the most-recent past president of the American Institute of Architects (AIA), is leaving the San Francisco office of Gensler and moving down the street to join Perkins + Will, he confirmed in an exclusive interview with RECORD today. As an associate principal, Stewart, who starts his new job on February 7, will focus on commercial and civic projects with an emphasis on sustainable design. Perkins + Will has offices in 43 countries and 49 states.

As a principal at Gensler, which has offices in five countries and 18 states, Stewart had specialized in institutional projects and restorations, including the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco. He has nothing but good things to say about his 20-year stint there, singling out Art Gensler and Walter Hunt for praise. Reached by cell phone while he is vacationing in Colorado, Stewart says that his departure does not “in any way to reflect poorly on my experiences at Gensler. I would categorize this more as the next phase of my career. Anybody’s career goes through phases.”

Though he suggests that he had more than one employment option, Stewart says that the Perkins + Will opportunity was the most enticing since it enables him to stay in San Francisco while expanding his sustainable design focus. He also notes that there is historic precedent for the move among past AIA leaders, noting that past AIA presidents have changed gears soon after serving, including 2004 president Eugene Hopkins, FAIA, who left SmithGroup to open his own firm in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Other recent leaders, such as Kate Schwennsen, FAIA, who served in 2006 and then returned to Iowa State University, have stayed put.

For its part, Perkins + Will is pleased with its new hire. “We are absolutely delighted to have him join us,” spokesman Howard Weiss says. A spokeswoman for Gensler’s San Francisco office, meanwhile, had no comment.

Correction: Perkins + Will has projects, not offices as we originally reported, in 43 countries and 49 states.

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