2019 Gold Medal - John Ochoa, AIA
The Gold Medal Award is the highest honor for outstanding lifetime service by an AIA member.
“Helping my clients achieve their visions is what inspires me.”
As CEO, John is leading the company through a period of continuous growth and improvement. He has worked in education design for more than 30 years. He is directly responsible for the performance and quality of work performed.
JOHN OCHOA IS A LIFELONG CHICAGOAN who received his Bachelor of Architecture degree with High Honors from the University of Illinois-Chicago in 1978. While at UIC, John received scholarships from the Graham Foundation and participated in the Versailles Study Abroad program. In 1980, John was licensed and joined the American Institute of Architects.
In 1986, Mr. Ochoa joined FGM Architects. Over his tenure, he has served as a Project Manager, Designer, Principal in Charge, Managing Director, and, President and CEO of the firm. John’s projects have received many awards, including recognition from the AIA, Driehaus Foundation and many professional organizations, architectural and industry-specific.
A hallmark of John’s career is his long-standing relationships with many clients, some for almost 30 years. A noteworthy example is Cicero SD 99 which FGM has served as District Architect since 1990. Among FGM’s award-winning projects for this district is Unity Junior High, which received an AIA Excellence inArchitecture Award and the Phoenix Community Award from the US EPA. Other award-winning projects include the Meyer Science Center at Wheaton College which was the first LEED Gold science facility in Illinois and Building 27 at Great Lakes Naval Training Center which received an AIA Excellence in Architecture Award for Historic Rehabilitation as well as a Naval Facilities Honor Award.
FGM HAS THRIVED under John’s leadership. In 2018 FGM was named Firm of the Year by AIA Northeast IL, having received the same honor from AIA Illinois in 2003. FGM is recognized as an Emerging Professionals Outstanding Friendly Firm by the Central States AIA. Over the last decade, John has led FGM’s strategic expansion with new offices opening in St. Louis, Milwaukee and most recently, Austin, TX.
Service to AIA
Mr. Ochoa has served AIA-NEI in many capacities, first as an Awards Committee Chair and later as a Board Member, Officer and President of the Chapter. He initiated the first sponsorship program for AIA-NEI bringing financial stability and reduced costs for programs to its members. He has encouraged FGM staff towards active AIA service; to date, more than 20 FGM team members have also served the AIA. As a firm, FGM has hosted Architecture Week activities, led a variety of seminars and provides ongoing support of AIA programs.
Service to the Profession
Mr. Ochoa provides leadership to the profession in a variety of ways. In addition to authoring numerous professional articles, he has testified to the IL Legislature on issues that impact the practice of architectural design. John has led the Society of Military Engineers, Lake Michigan Post, the UIC Architecture Alumni Association (A3) and the University of Illinois Alumni Association. While serving as the President of UIC A3, Mr. Ochoa launched the annual Architecture Career Fair and created the FGM Architects/ Susan Nealey Endowed Scholarship. While serving as a Board Member of UIAA FGM also initiated the FGM Scholarship at UIUC. The firm actively participates in a variety of educationally focused projects at Schools of Architecture.