A former President of the American Institute of Architects, (AIA), has been appointed as the new Dean for The Scott Sutherland School of Architecture & Built Environment at Robert Gordon University (RGU).

Professor Peter Exley FAIA RIBA NOMA is currently Professor of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and will join RGU at the end of May.

A strategic and innovative leader, Mr Exley, is the founder of the internationally recognised practice, ‘Architecture is Fun’, a Chicago-based architecture and design firm. His practice was awarded the AIA Chicago Firm of the Year in 2017 and prides itself on designing and advocating public spaces, learning and play environments for children, families and communities.

As Professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Professor Exley has taught a wide range of cross-disciplinary subjects, drawing on his experience of community engagement to foster a climate and equity-based curriculum. He received the Nathan Clifford Ricker award for Teaching in Excellence Award in 2017 and has extensive research publications on urban issues such as public spaces, pocket parks and micro-city environments.

He has also written two books including ‘Design For Kids’ (2006) and the eponymous, ‘Architecture Is Fun’, which he co-authored with his partner Sharon Exley in 2021.

In his role as the President of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) in 2021, Professor Exley successfully led this globally recognized professional society, that includes 95,000 members and over 200 national and international components, through the disruption of the global pandemic. He also represented a delegation of the AIA at the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow and oversaw the renewal of the AIA Headquarters, as a net-zero, 2030 compliant, future workplace.

During his tenure at the AIA, Professor Exley led a public outreach team, including a partnership with the US Conference of Mayors, instigating the ‘Blueprint for Better’ campaign to bring to life the role of architects as leaders in the fight against climate change.

Professor Exley received his Master of Architecture at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia in 1990 and studied a Bachelor of Arts, gaining First Class Honours in Architectural Studies from the University of Newcastle Upon Tyne (UK), in 1985.

Other accolades include the Contribution to Art Education Award from the Illinois Alliance for Art Education (2002), a Distinguished Service Award from the National Art Education Association (2020) and the Young Architect Award from the AIA Chicago (1996).

In addition to his membership of the AIA, Professor Exley is a member of several professional organisations including the National Organization of Minority Architects and the Royal Institute of British Architects.

Professor Peter Exley said: “I am excited to lead The Scott Sutherland’s School’s vision to solidify our position as a leader in research, and to be launching a community of confident and capable students with the capacity, and expertise to literally build a resilient future. This is only possible with an outlook that is interdisciplinary, collaborative, and public minded at local, regional, and global scales.

“We should expect to engage an even broader network of community, civic, institutional, and business partnerships to collective benefit, with visible outcomes that are fair, and equitable for all. It’s a pivotal time in this industry, and for our community; I’m proud to be part of this RGU team leading change with vision, and purpose.”

RGU’s Principal and Vice-Chancellor Professor Steve Olivier has welcomed Professor Peter Exley’s appointment to lead The Scott Sutherland School of Architecture and Built Environment.

He said: “We are delighted to be appointing Professor Exley as Dean for The Scott Sutherland School of Architecture and Built Environment. He brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise, not only in education but also as founder of an internationally recognized practice of award-winning architecture and through his role as President of the American Institute of Architects.

“The Scott Sutherland School of Architecture and Built Environment has a strong social ethos that underpins all its teaching and research. We work closely with industry to ensure our courses are up to date and to equip our students with relevant skills to design and build sustainable and well-considered structures and spaces that reflect society's aspirations. Professor Exley has a demonstrable track-record, and I am confident that under his leadership, the Scott Sutherland School can continue to build on its success as one of the country’s leading architectural schools.”

The Scott Sutherland School of Architecture and Built Environment is one of the three oldest of its kind in the UK, with a heritage that extends back to the 19th Century.

The school offers a unique undergraduate and postgraduate course portfolio that is highly regarded by professionals. Learn more about The Scott Sutherland School of Architecture and Built Environment.

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