STATE ARCHITECT GIVEN LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – State Architect Mike Fitts believes the State Capitol is the most historically significant state building … after all, he and his wife were married there in 1982 and are believed to be the first couple to exchange vows in the capitol. Fitts has been honored as this year’s recipient of the “Lifetime Achievement Award,” the most coveted of the annual “Excellence in Development” awards presented recently by professionals representing all aspects of the Middle Tennessee development community.
“The capitol represents the foresight and pride that our forefathers had, as well as a quality of workmanship unparalleled in Tennessee at that time,” Fitts said. “Not only is the capitol an architectural masterpiece, but it was designated this year as a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark.”
Fitts has served as State Architect since 1971 – only the second person to serve in this position since its establishment by the State Building Commission in 1955 – and over the 33-years, he has served under seven governors. He's currently involved in the master planning of First Lady Andrea Conte's project: the restoration and preservation of Tennessee's Executive Residence.
“Preserving history is actually easier today than it was 33 years ago. Historic Preservation gained momentum after the Urban Renewal period in the 1960s … luckily a few things survived that period and reuse is much more acceptable today because of environmental concerns and decreased resources.”
A native of Jackson, Tennessee, Fitts graduated from Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire. He was commissioned as an officer in the US Navy, serving four years with the Underwater Demolition Team (now the Navy SEALS). He then attended the University of Tennessee at Knoxville where he received a BS in Civil Engineering in 1957, a BS in Architecture in 1971 and then a law degree in 1980. He is licensed in the fields of architecture, engineering and law.
“Mike is truly a treasure of a resource for the state and for all Tennesseans,” said Commissioner Dave Goetz who oversees the Department of Finance and Administration, where the State Architect’s office is located. “State government has some of the most significant architecture in Tennessee, and we couldn’t find anyone with more knowledge, historical appreciation and loyalty to the state than Mike.”
The office of the State Architect provides functionality for the State Building Commission, which is responsible for oversight of all building construction and renovation, demolition, land purchase and leasing for state government. Mike also serves, unofficially, as the quasi-curator of the State Capitol and is relied on to provide an architectural perspective of all state buildings of historical interest.