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Recognizing Otto Poticha

Posted on by m

Recognition Ceremony Opening Words by Jerry Diethelm

This month OPUS VII honors Otto Poticha, for his 50 years of inspirational design, planning, and architectural leadership in our community.

Otto Poticha, Chuck Bailey, and Mayor Kitty Piercy

He and his three firms, Poticha Architects, Unthank Seder and Poticha, and Unthank Poticha Waterbury have won over 50 local, regional and national design awards since he and Sharon arrived in 1961.  That’s an average of over one per year for over half a century, with the most recent being the wonderful new Wildish Theater he designed for downtown Springfield.

If you ask him, and even if you don’t, he will tell you that architecture is an art, that mediocrity in building and planning our city must not be our goal, and that “Butt Ugly” is just not acceptable.

He will often take the Art Walk, but always walk the Art Talk.

He will continue to insist that the Register Guard publish the names of architects and their firms, which they still frequently fail to do in spite of his decades long prodding, when they write about local architecture.

Otto as everyone knows can be sharply critical and outspoken if he thinks we are aiming too low or are off target.  If there is an elephant in the meeting room, he will not merely acknowledge it, but wash it, feed it, and sometimes even ride it around the room.  Insight and fresh thinking can feel uncomfortable and challenging, especially when it is coming right at you, but that is his way and the way of art.

This summer Otto became a fellow in the American Institute of Architects, their highest honor.  Surprising to many, the honor wasn’t focused on his design accomplishments or service to the profession, but for education.  For the past 49 years Otto has taken time out of each professional week to teach a design studio and to design a nationally acclaimed class in professional practice.

But the award for education was about more than his half century contributions at the UofO.  Appropriately and insightfully, it included students, fellow instructors, professional colleagues and the entire community.

Otto Poticha will take us all to the next level if we let him, if we can keep up with him as he continues to show the way with his own brilliant work.

Jerry Diethelm

Read more about the Recognition Ceremony here.