News and Events

Obama Appoints Freelon to US Commission of Fine Arts

Lew Myers


Washington, D.C. – President Obama announced his appointment of Philip G. Freelon, FAIA to the US Commission of Fine Arts.

The Commission of Fine Arts, established in 1910 by Act of Congress, is composed of seven experts in the fine arts—including many of the most renowned American architects, landscape architects, planners, and artists. Past Commission members include architects and landscape architects Daniel Burnham, Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr., Gilmore Clarke, Gordon Bunshaft, and Chloethiel Smith; and artists Daniel Chester French, Francis Millet, Lee Lawrie, Paul Manship, and Frederick Hart. Appointed by the President, Commission members serve four-year terms without compensation.

Freelon’s appointment was one of a series of presidential appointments announced by the White House on December 1. President Obama said, “I am grateful that these impressive individuals have chosen to dedicate their talents to serving the American people at this important time for our country.  I look forward to working with them in the months and years ahead.”

The Commission is charged with giving expert advice to the President, Congress and the heads of departments and agencies of the Federal and District of Columbia governments on matters of design and aesthetics, as they affect the Federal interest and preserve the dignity of the nation's capital. The Commission consists of "well qualified judges of the fine arts" who each serve for a term of four years. They may also be reappointed. The Commission provides advice to the U.S. Mint on the design of coins and medals, and approves the site and design of national memorials, both in the United States and on foreign soil, in accordance with the Commemorative Works Act or the American Battle Monuments Act.

Within the District of Columbia community, the Commission advises on design matters affecting the Historic District of Georgetown, under the Old Georgetown Act, as well as other private sector areas adjacent to federal interests, under the Shipstead-Luce Act. 

Lastly, the Commission administers the National Capital Arts and Cultural Affairs program, which was created by Congress to benefit non-profit cultural entities whose primary purpose is to provide Washington with exhibition or performing arts.

Freelon is the founder and President of The Freelon Group, an award-winning architecture firm based in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, and Professor of Practice at the MIT School of Architecture and Planning.  Mr. Freelon is a Peer Professional for the GSA’s Design Excellence Program and has served on numerous design award juries, including the National American Institute of Architects (AIA) Institute Honor Awards jury and the National Endowment for the Arts Design Stewardship Panel.  He is a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects, a LEED Accredited Professional and the 2009 recipient of the AIA Thomas Jefferson Award for Public Architecture. Mr. Freelon earned his Bachelor of Environmental Design degree in Architecture from North Carolina State University and his Master of Architecture degree from MIT.