Rocklin, Calif. – Frank Gehry, who designed the original buildings at William Jessup University, was among 21 people that President Barack Obama awarded the 2016 Medal of Freedom on Tuesday.
A world-renowned architect, Gehry’s best-known buildings include the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, the Dancing House in Prague and the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain. He was also responsible for the redesign of the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto.
William Jessup’s 125-acre grounds were originally designed by Gehry and housed the western headquarters and warehouse location for furniture manufacturer Herman Miller.
Miller contracted the world-renowned architect to build a 400,000-square-foot factory. In 1991, Gehry’s design was awarded the National Honor Award by the American Institute of Architects (AIA).
“It’s always been a tremendous source of pride that our campus is connected to Frank Gehry, one of the world’s most influential living architects,” said John Jackson, President of William Jessup University. “We have a tremendous legacy that the university will always cherish. The original buildings won design awards and the campus additions that we’ve made over the years have also been award-winning efforts.”
Speaking from the White House, President Obama said Gehry had inspired the next generation through his advocacy for arts education, and he “never let popular acclaim reverse his impulse to defy convention.”
“He spent his life rethinking shapes and mediums, seemingly the force of gravity itself,” President Obama said. “Frank Gehry’s work shows that while buildings may be fixed to the ground, like all great art they can lift our spirits, they can soar.”
Looking to relocate, San Jose Christian College purchased the Herman Miller property in 2002 and changed the name to William Jessup University, after its founder.
After much renovation and collaboration between the Reeve-Knight Construction Inc. and The Taylor Group architects, the original warehouses were retro-fitted into a spacious indoor-outdoor campus with classrooms, dormitories, offices, lounges and athletics.
William Jessup opened its doors in August 2004 as the first and only WASC accredited private four-year Christian university to have its main campus located in the greater Sacramento area, just 25 miles northeast of Sacramento.
The campus renovation received the Best Rebuild/Renovation Award from the Sacramento Business Journal in March 2005 and was similarly recognized in 2006 by the San Joaquin chapter of the AIA.
As the University has grown, Gehry’s design has become a permanent staple of campus architecture. In 2010, an entirely new apartment building – another Reeve-Knight Construction Inc. and The Taylor Group collaboration – was unveiled on campus and again awarded by the AIA for excellence in design and adhering to Gehry’s original style.
Earlier this year, the university completed its latest project, a nearly $13 million campus expansion featuring a new dormitory that houses 210 students.
“William Jessup continues to make impressive strides since relocating to Rocklin nearly 12 years ago,” said Mike West, Chairman of the William Jessup University Board of Trustees. “We are thrilled to be opening our doors and creating a new home for more students.”