The Clinton Sheerr Award for Excellence in NH Architecture

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2017 Clinton Sheerr Award Bestowed on Carolyn Isaak, Honorary AIANH


Carolyn Isaak, Hon. AIA (photo: John Hession)
Photo by John Hession

The 2017 Clinton Sheerr Award for Excellence in New Hampshire Architecture was bestowed on Carolyn Isaak, Honorary AIANH. The Award honors and promotes New Hampshire architects, their commitment to the community, and design that exemplifies excellence at the highest level. The award may also recognize non-architects who have also received Honorary Membership in AIANH and who, through their efforts, promoted excellence in architecture in New Hampshire. The award is named after Clinton Sheerr AIA, a well-known New Hampshire architect who died in 1997. Sheerr exemplified great passion for beauty and design, a dedication to the community, and the tenacity to follow one's tasks and dreams. The award honors other similarly outstanding individuals in New Hampshire who carry on this tradition of deep love and dedication for the State, its architecture and environment.

At the annual AIANH Awards Ceremony on January 20, 2017 at the Manchester Country Club, Carolyn was presented this prestigious award by Patricia Sherman FAIA, herself a past recipient of the Sheerr Award. In her comments, Sherman stated, "Carolyn has architecture in her DNA. She is the daughter of an architect, the niece of an architect and the aunt of an architect. With such genetic history Carolyn was more than just the Executive Director of AIANH for 17 years. She understood and loved the profession and mentored a fledging NH chapter of AIA to become a star in the AIA galaxy of chapters.

"Through bear and bull design markets Carolyn kept AIANH solvent and a friend to its members. She produced the NH Forum monthly newsletter and kept us all up to date on state and national issues. She fostered the NH Architecture Foundation, its scholarship programs and its support of the wonderful educational outreach programs, Learning By Design, that AIANH conducts in the schools.  

"In 2007 AIANH received a $10,000 Challenge Grant from AIA National to create a demonstration project in their home state. Our ambitious two-year project, The Redevelopment of Mill Plaza in Durham, required significantly more money than the grant provided so Carolyn not only raised some of the additional money needed for the project but spent many hours coordinating the efforts of the many volunteers who made this it such a success, receiving a commendation from AIA National and an award from the NH Planners Association.

"In 2013 AIANH created the NH Architects and Engineers Emergency Response Task Force (NH AEER TF) to serve as second responders in disasters. To protect these volunteers from liability NH needed to add architects and engineers to the Good Samaritan Law, which had to go through the challenging legislative process before becoming law in 2015. Carolyn, working behind the scenes, shepherded this law through the approval maze using her political skills, charm and thorough knowledge of the Architectural and Building professions to persuade and educate legislators of the value of such a law."

Knowing the importance of sustainable and carbon neutral planning and design in preserving the health of our state and our planet, Carolyn worked with the Environmental Guild to produce six Integrated Design/Integrated Development conferences, which drew leading presenters from around the country and participants from throughout New England. In 2014 she led an effort to bring Architecture 2030’s AIA + 2030 Professional Series to New Hampshire. Building on that momentum, she guided the AIANH Board and the Guild in developing New Hampshire’s own 2030 & Beyond Series, providing tools for our members to design and build to meet the 2030 Challenge.

Carolyn retired from the position of Executive Director in October 2016.  She continues to be involved with AIA as the Executive Director of AIA New England.