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Jose Luis Palacios

At a Glance

Class Year: 1983

Award Year: 2005

Degree: Bachelor of Environmental Design, Master of Architecture

Profession: Architecture


José Luis Palacios '83 (BED) and '85 (MARCH), Design Director and Practice Leader for Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP’s Los Angeles Studio, had more than 35 million square feet of project space to his credit when honored by the college. Originally from Ecuador, José’s interests and studies varied from physics and mathematics to philosophy and architecture. Through innovative design thinking and effective leadership, Jose’s role as a leader in the design of large-scale urban planning projects has been well recognized. With over three decades of professional experience his focus has been in the “making” of buildings offering simple and artful solutions to complex problems that entail immense technical knowledge and a profound attention to detail. He has earned over 50 prestigious project awards and has completed work for many prominent clients including RAND, British Petroleum, BMC Software, Hewlett Packard and the State of California. José earned both his Bachelor of Environmental Design and Master of Architecture Degrees from Texas A&M University. "José is a jewel in the College of Architecture's crown," said Rodney Hill, a Texas A&M architecture professor who fondly refers to Palacios as the most outstanding student he's ever had in 36 years. In 2005, José was honored with the Texas A&M Outstanding Alumni Award, the highest honor given by the University to practicing professionals. José began his professional career at the Houston office of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. Within six months, he was asked to move to the firm's Los Angeles office to design the ICM Headquarters in Beverly Hills. At age 29, Palacios oversaw the construction of the 52-story Gas Company Tower, a design that earned an American Institute of Architecture merit award. Soon after, Palacios became a founding partner and principal of KMJR, which was acquired by AECOM (previously DMJM) in 1994. Shortly thereafter, Palacios received national recognition for designing one of the first large-scale sustainable projects in the nation - the Washington State Department of Ecology Building, which became a national prototype for energy-efficient and environmentally sensitive design, long before sustainability became an industry-wide concern. While at AECOM and since his return to SOM, José has continued to build on his recognized portfolio of civic and institutional buildings. Completed projects include the Los Angeles Police Department Headquarters, the City of Austin Emergency Response Center, the Rand Corporation Headquarters, the City of LA’s 911 Response Buildings, the western region headquarters for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and the new Long Beach Courthouse. Additionally, he also recently completed the New United States Courthouse located in downtown Los Angeles’ Civic Center, which has earned numerous awards, including the Design-Build Institute of America, Western Pacific Region Project of the Year Award, the Design-Build Institute of America National Award of Merit, the US Green Building Institute - Los Angeles Sustainable Innovation Award, the AIA California Council Honor Award, AIA Los Angeles Honor Award and COTE Honor Award, and recently the AIA COTE Top Ten Award and the AIA National Institute Honor Award. José is currently designing the development of the Long Beach Civic Center in downtown Long Beach, California as well as the LAX Airport Police Facility. Current master plans include the Crossroads of the World in Hollywood, California, 100 West Walnut in Pasadena, California, Distrito La Perla Urban Center in Guadalajara, Mexico, and Antigua Planta Kodak in Guadalajara, Mexico. In 1998, Palacios earned an AIA Young Architects Citation for Excellence in Design, an award distinguishing him as one of the nation's most accomplished architects. He has authored two books and his buildings have been featured in both national and international publications including Architectural Record, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, L’Arca and Monocle. José has been an active member of AIA|Los Angeles for over twenty years. In 2006, José was a member of the National Convention Steering Committee for AIA|Los Angeles and has served as a Board Member of the University of Southern California Architectural Guild.