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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Dr. Joe Johnson has worked so closely with state architects for nearly four decades that they consider him one of their own.

Now, it’s official.

The former UT president was named an honorary member of the American Institute of Architects Thursday.

A presentation at the annual meeting of the AIA Tennessee chapter in Nashville recognized Johnson’s contributions to architecture education, research and practice.

“Dr. Johnson is very deserving of this award,” Marleen Davis, UT-Knoxville architecture dean and AIA board member, said. “Architects in Tennessee are thrilled that he has been recognized for his many accomplishments supporting the architecture profession throughout the state.”

In 1965, Johnson garnered legislative support to establish at UT-Knoxville the state’s first and only accredited architecture program.

As UT executive vice president for administration in the 1970s and 80s, he oversaw funding, design and construction at UT campuses during the university’s peak years of growth. This included the award-winning design of the Art & Architecture Building at UT-Knoxville in 1976.

Johnson also supported establishment of UT urban design studios in Knoxville, Chattanooga, Kingsport and Memphis.

Knoxville Mayor Victor Ashe said Johnson worked to promote cooperation among university, community, and neighborhood groups in urban planning and design efforts.

“Dr. Johnson helped integrate the city’s waterfront development into the UT-Knoxville master plan and participated energetically in our plan to revitalize downtown,” Ashe said. “Under his leadership, UT has been a major partner in making Knoxville a better place to live, work and play.”

Gregory Hnedak, whose Hnedak Bobo Group in Memphis established a minority fellowship in architecture at UT, said Johnson’s impact on architecture is felt across the state.

“Dr. Johnson has left a lasting legacy to our profession,” Hnedak said. “It is a legacy fittingly recognized by his honorary membership in the AIA.”