California Architects

Newsletter Logo for California Architects

2020 Edition, Issue 1


A Publication of the California Architects Board ■ Public Protection Through Examination, Licensure, and Regulation

Octavius Morgan Distinguished Service Award

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

The Board relies on volunteers, such as subject matter experts, committee and task force members, and others to assist in the fulfillment of its mandate to protect the public health, safety, and welfare.

The 2019 honoree is:

L. Kirk Miller
San Francisco / Oakland

In 1997, then Governor Pete Wilson appointed Miller to what was known as the California Board of Architectural Examiners (now the California Architects Board). He was reappointed by Governor Gray Davis in 2002. On the Board until late 2006, he served as Secretary in 2000 and 2006, Vice President in 2001, and President in 2002. While a member of the Board, Miller served on several committees including the Executive Committee, the Professional Qualifications Committee, of which he is still a member, and the Supplemental Examination Committee. He also served as Chair for the Postlicensure Competency Task Force, which examined the necessity for mandatory continuing education for architects – something Miller believes is essential to professional development.

L. Kirk Miller
Board President Tian Feng and L. Kirk Miller

Miller has volunteered hundreds of hours in service to the Board’s mission in the various capacities in which he has served. He sees his volunteerism as a matter of duty to the greater good and societal well-being, and something he is very proud to have been able to do for more than 20 years.

A native of Alberta, Canada who holds dual citizenship with the United States, Miller started his more than 40-year career as a California-licensed architect by designing, developing, and managing luxury housing in San Francisco with his then partner Bobbie Sue Hood. Miller has managed all aspects of real estate development from land acquisition to governmental approvals, financing, construction and marketing, and has worked on numerous multimillion-dollar projects in San Francisco. Yet, he is a strong proponent for affordable housing and high-density low-rise construction. Miller is also a committed believer in the philosophy that form should follow function.

Prior to starting his own practice, Miller was a partner at Hood Miller Associates. His portfolio also includes numerous commercial, retail, and public projects.

Miller attended the University of California, Berkeley, (UC Berkeley) where he earned his Master of Architecture degree with an emphasis on project management and design. While at UC Berkeley, he had the opportunity to study under the widely influential British-American architect and design theorist, Christopher Alexander, father of the Pattern Language movement. A self-described disciple of Alexander, Miller incorporates many of the fundamental principles of Pattern Language into his approach to architectural design.

Miller believes that during the design process an architect should utilize contemporary technological innovations while blending them with the existing architectural style of the local area to develop a harmonious aesthetic meant to improve societal well-being. He also believes this design approach can be applied at any scale. Miller hopes architectural schools will adopt and embrace this approach in the education of the next generation of architects.

Active in the American Institute of Architects (AIA) since his years at UC Berkeley, Miller has held many positions within the organization. Most notable is that he was one of three leaders who prompted what is now AIA California to move its headquarters from San Francisco to Sacramento, where the organizational leadership would be closer to the political decision-making process at the State Capitol. Also notable was his work on the AIA Ethics Task Force, which resulted in the reimplementation of mandatory ethical standards for AIA membership.

Civic-minded, Miller founded and served as President of the Russian Hill Neighbors, which became one of the most effective neighborhood organizations in San Francisco. Miller was appointed by then-Mayor Diane Feinstein to serve as a Commissioner for the San Francisco Housing Authority. Later, he served as the Vice President of the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association, a then nearly 2,000-member citizen think-tank and government watchdog organization.