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DAAP News

Famed Architect Named 2018 DAAP Distinguished Alumnus

Date:  3/1/2018

Contact: Laura Johnson

Phone: 513-556-1211

By: Laura Cook Kroeger

Renowned architect Don Jacobs, FAIA, a 1967 graduate of the College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning (DAAP), will be honored April 12 with the 2018 Distinguished Alumnus Award by the University of Cincinnati.

Jacobs is the recipient of dozens of awards for his professional work and dedication to community service. As a respected architect of international high rises, commercial buildings and custom homes, he is best known as the key architect of the iconic Sea Ranch in Northern California. Jacobs designed over 100 custom homes there and won 27 local and national awards in a 16-year span. The development was so successful that it grew to 17 resident architects. Sea Ranch melded ecology and aesthetics. Located about 100 miles north of San Francisco in Sonoma County, homes were made of California redwood with open floor plans, used native flora and boasted magnificent ocean views. It seemed to be the direct opposite of the cookie-cutter homes of the ‘50s and ‘60s.

He relocated to Southern California and joined what is now JZMK Partners where Jacobs became chairman and was on the forefront of the movement to take American architectural design internationally. He cleared the path for the firm to work in China and then on projects throughout the Middle East.

While he recently sold his interest in JZMK, he is unable to wind down. “When you are passionate about what you do, it’s not easy to stop,” Jacobs admits.  He’s still in contact with clients in China, Dubai, Egypt, Jordan, India and Morocco.

He credits his rise in the architectural world on his DAAP education.

“I went to work early on alongside Ivy Leaguers and bright young architects, but I was the one who rose up the ranks quickest,” he recalls. “There’s one reason for that—my education. I was way ahead of these people. Much can be attributed to my co-op experiences and much to the quality of the professors at DAAP. It gave me such a well-rounded education and ability to solve problems creatively.”

Jacobs maintains a passion for non-profit work. He currently sits on the board of Seneca Family Agencies, formerly Seneca Center. The non-profit meets the mental health needs of children in group homes and foster care.  Recently he was also elected to the board of the Anaheim Performing Arts Center.  For twenty years he sat on the Board of HomeAid, an agency co-founded by his wife, Julie Brinkerhoff-Jacobs. Its mission is to house the homeless. It now has 17 chapters and developed over 450 shelters nationwide. Don Jacobs just completed designing his fifth women’s shelter. Together they ascribe to a motto located on Julie’s website: “Whether it’s a scholarship fund, a non-profit or helping the homeless, we are committed to making the world a better, more beautiful place that extends far beyond our commissioned work.”

“We are extremely proud of Don’s creativity, passion for architecture and heart to help those in need,” says DAAP Dean Robert Probst. “He is an alumnus of international stature yet he remains humble and focused on improving the lives of everyone around him. Don is more than deserving of this prestigious award.”

Each year, the UC Alumni Association hosts the Distinguished Alumni Celebration to recognize and celebrate the many contributions and overall excellence of UC alumni in countless fields of endeavor. Tickets to the April 12th, 6-9 p.m. celebration at Cincinnati’s Music Hall can be found here. To contribute to a scholarship in Don Jacob’s honor, click here.