MAPP alums are no strangers to receiving top awards worldwide, but being recognized at their alma mater makes being an award recipient extra special. Just ask Craig Spangler, AIA (B.ARCH ‘82), who received the President's Award at the Alumni Association’s 2023 A Celebration of Terps: Featuring the Maryland Awards on Nov. 10.
The annual ceremony, held at the Samuel Riggs IV Alumni Center, celebrates fearless Terp alums "who have risen to the highest levels of public service, launched successful companies and made groundbreaking discoveries." Alums are nominated in seven categories, including the President's Award category, which recognizes a noteworthy alum or community member who has achieved recognition for excellence in their profession or field.
This honor is well-deserved for Spangler, a nationally recognized architect in sustainable design and a true innovator in the architecture world. He is the senior principal at Ballinger, a world-renowned interdisciplinary design firm based in Philadelphia.
"It's obviously a tremendous honor to receive the award and humbling to be amongst the highly accomplished alums that preceded me, such as governors and senators and leading corporations CEOs," said Spangler. "I'm extraordinarily proud to be amongst them and represent the school amongst those great alums."
Through his work, Spangler has used his talents to elevate the architecture of higher education institutions nationwide, including the University of Maryland (UMD). He's done so with transformative, green building designs that foster a dynamic environment for learning and research.
Spangler has been the design architect of award-winning projects for UMD's campus, including the Bioscience Research Building, A. James Clark Hall, Chemistry Wing 1, and the upcoming Stanley R. Zupnik Hall and Interdisciplinary Engineering Building. He also serves as a team member of the new Campus Facilities Plan Steering Committee. Spangler and his team at Ballinger collaborated with the Office of the Provost and then Dean Darryl Pines to lead the Clark School of Engineering sector master plan.
His constant support for UMD continues to enrich our community. His design teams—which often include university alums—have delivered truly imaginative and innovative solutions for tackling sustainability issues on our campus to help it grow into a leading Big 10 University.
Although Spangler has designed buildings for many campuses, he said the four buildings at UMD are the closest to his heart, and it was an honor to be selected to design the buildings. As an alum, he felt a tremendous responsibility to steward the campus, especially considering the large facilities' indoor nature and their locations in the Northeast district.
"They're all within close proximity to one another, and therefore having the ability to transform a campus district is really special and important," Spangler said. "When you have that opportunity, and they're all relating to one another, you have to think beyond just your one building and about the campus experience in total."
"I don't know of any others [colleagues and friends] who've had that opportunity to have had that ability to have an impact in such a big way," he added.
In addition to sharing his design expertise, Spangler has made significant contributions to the university through his philanthropy and service: he has provided an endowed lecture series and he and his wife Mimi established the Craig S. Spangler, AIA Endowed Graduate Student Support Fund in Architecture; he served as the school's Fearless Ideas Campaign Committee Chair; and has offered match and challenge dollars for every Giving Day since its inception, helping our efforts grow considerably, including a 170% increase in dollars raised from 2020 to 2022. He is a decade-long member of our Board of Visitors, serving as president, past chair and development chair, and is a mentor and advisor to students. Spangler was also named a Kea Distinguished Professor in 2012 and honored with a Distinguished Alumni Award in 2013.
Spangler said it has been vital for him to give back to MAPP in many ways because the school has given him an exceptional foundation in his career.
"I'm forever grateful to the school and the university for giving me that foundation that led to me receiving a full fellowship, a master's degree from Princeton and early career mentorships with renowned architects," Spangler said.
"But, most importantly, given that really rigorous educational experience inspired me to dedicate my career to designing projects at college and universities that foster transformative, impactful educational experiences like I've received at Maryland," Spangler said.
"I've had the opportunity to design certificate projects for many colleges and universities across the country, each with their own distinct missions, culture and context, and it's been an absolute joy to embrace and become a part of those institutions architecturally," he added. "You're not an alum, but you become part of who they are, and obviously, you leave a mark for generations to come. And so, it's been so rewarding in that regard."
Spangler admits that the scale of his work requires the engagement of many institutional representatives across the universities he partners with. It takes a village to design buildings, including his colleagues at Ballinger and builders. As one of the participants in these projects, he says their collaborations are central to him receiving the President's Award, and it's an honor to receive it on their behalf.
View a video of Spangler's honor.