2015 Edition, Issue 2

Octavius Morgan Distinguished Service Award Recipients: 2014

Named after the first president of the California Architects Board (Board), the Octavius Morgan Distinguished Service Award recognizes individuals who have significantly contributed to the Board’s mission through volunteerism over a period of time. The Board selects award recipients annually. Nominations are accepted from Board members and staff.

The Board relies on volunteers to assist in developing the California Supplemental Examination (CSE) and to serve on many of its committees. Here are the 2014 honorees:

Albert Okuma Jr.


Born in Cleveland, Ohio, Albert "Al" Okuma Jr. moved to California at an early age and grew up in Southern California. In 1971, he graduated from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo with a Bachelor of Science degree in Architectural Engineering and subsequently earned his Bachelor of Architecture degree in 1975.

Albert Okuma Jr.
Albert Okuma Jr.

The Board is posthumously honoring Okuma, who passed away on June 16, 2013, for his decades of service where he contributed over 1,000 hours of examination-related service. Okuma began as a California Supplemental Examination (CSE) Commissioner in the early 1980s and rose to Master Commissioner in 1987, where he served until 2007. When the Board developed the California Architectural Licensing Examination in the late 1980s, he served as a grader and member of the Standard Setting and Master Commissioner Review Committees.

He always exhibited professionalism, diligence, and thoroughness along with his great patience in performing his duties, all of which contributed greatly to the CSE process, said 2001 Octavius Morgan Award recipient George Ikenoyama.

Okuma demonstrated willingness to be available on short notice to meet the Board’s needs, and would often serve on a CSE panel that worked into the late evening in order to accommodate the testing schedule. It was always a pleasure to work with Al at any level of the CSE process, said 2006 Octavius Morgan Award recipient Richard Holden. To be involved, as deeply as he was, shows an appreciation and love for his chosen profession, and he always participated with thoughtful input on the exam process, true concern for the candidates he was reviewing, and always with a warm smile. As a Master Commissioner, Al was attentive to details while keeping in mind the big picture and maintaining a cooperative and collegial demeanor, said Michelle Hardoin, a testing consultant from Human Resources Research Organization who worked on CSE development.

Okuma was known for his dedication to the profession and a steady, thoughtful demeanor that helped facilitate progress throughout CSE development.

Okuma worked for a number of companies throughout his career, including Southern California Edison as a sustainable architect, co-founding his own firm, and Leach Mounce Architects. He was well respected in the architect community, served on the City of Ventura Planning Commission and the design review board for several years, and was a member of Construction Specifications Institute and The American Institute of Architects (AIA). The AIA Ventura County has established a scholarship fund in Okuma’s honor.

Charles Ray Smith Jr.

Los Angeles

Raised on the banks of the False River in New Roads, Louisiana, Smith knew early on that he loved architecture.

My mom would have me design houses for her, Smith said. She’d say, ‘Design me a four-bedroom house’…and I would draw a floor plan as an exercise. That was in the second or third grade. The drawings and designs never stopped.

Smith made the short trip to Baton Rouge, where he attended Louisiana State University until 1978, when he earned a Bachelor of Architecture degree.

In 1982, Smith earned his Master of Architecture degree from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. While at Cal Poly, he became a graduate teaching assistant, where he had his first experience teaching his own class, which continues to be a passion. I taught a freshman free hand and perspective drawing class and I was making $550 a month, which wasn’t much money even in 1983, Smith said. He has since lectured on sustainability at the University of Southern California.

His interest in teaching, Smith said, led him to the California Architects Board and his work with the California Supplemental Examination (CSE). Since 2003, Smith has served on several committees as well as volunteered his time as a Commissioner, Master Commissioner, and Subject Matter Expert. Smith has dedicated more than 650 hours for CSE-related activities.

Charles Ray Smith Jr.
Charles Ray Smith Jr.

I was interested in teaching, and I loved the university atmosphere, and working with the Board and examining candidates was kind of like that, said Smith, who added that, as a Master Commissioner, advising and monitoring a group of Commissioners was particularly gratifying.

Smith, 60, has been with the global design, architecture, engineering and planning firm, HOK in Los Angeles, since 1996, where he is a vice president and senior project manager. He has more than three decades of experience, most recently focused on healthcare after years of extensive justice and transit projects from Oregon to the California/Baja border.

In 2007, Smith, as project manager, had several articles published and HOK won multiple awards for the Santa Clarita Transit Administration and Maintenance facility, one of the first LEED-certified straw bale buildings in the world.

Most recently, after working on the Prebys Cardiovascular Institute located on the campus of Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla for eight years, the state-of-the-art, 383,000-square-foot heart facility opened its doors to its first patient on March 8, 2015.