C. R. George Dove, FAIA, former Managing Principal of WDG, prominent architect whose remarkable career spanned nearly five decades, and whose legacy in the Greater Washington Metro region will endure for generations, passed away on Monday, October 23rd, 2023.
George Dove’s journey in architecture was a testament to leadership, dedication, and a unique style of collaboration that left an indelible mark on the profession and the community he served. Throughout his life, George redefined the concept of leadership, emphasizing humility and partnerships. He valued his work for its impact on others and the community contributions of the projects he championed. His leadership style was characterized by a commitment to consensus and the greater good, focusing on empowering others.
George's career in architecture took flight when he joined Weihe, Black & Jeffries (now WDG) in 1971, eventually becoming a Managing Principal of the firm in 1987. He had found a firm that would become a cornerstone of his professional life. Under his stewardship, the firm evolved from a 15-person practice into an organization that, at the time of his retirement in 2016, included over 150 professionals providing full-service architecture, planning, and interior design, with offices in Washington, DC, and Dallas, Texas.
George created a sound practice, well respected by the building industry, clients, and peers. His implementation of a plan for diversification and growth led to a stronger, well positioned firm. As Principal-in-Charge of a range of complex projects that demanded his design leadership and project management skills, he was able to sustain a level of excellence in planning and design that is evident from the firm's many awards. He was also responsible for leading the firm's strategic planning process and oversaw the firm's business management and development. He reshaped the firm's governance structure to ensure equality among partners, and he expanded the firm, broadening its scope and diversifying its projects.
Under George’s leadership, WDG made major commitments to community issues, often resulting in pro bono design services for worthy nonprofit groups including Housing Opportunities for Women; IONA Senior Services; DC Public Schools; Christmas in April, and others. George was always a proponent of growth opportunities in all aspects of the business of architecture for all members of the firm. He was a respected teacher and mentor and was committed to nurturing professional growth.
Marc Nathanson, a retired Managing Principal of WDG who worked alongside George for four decades, said, "There is a saying that goes, 'If you have a job that you love, you will never work a day in your life.' I think this exemplified George. He loved every aspect of the practice of architecture and his life revolved around WDG. Even after he retired, he could not drag himself away from the firm and continued marketing and providing support. We were a close-knit partnership.”
Nathanson continued, “In addition to being architects, we all slipped effortlessly into the additional roles we were most comfortable with—contracts, legal, personnel, etc. George’s role was to be a spokesperson for the firm, and I think he did a magnificent job. Many years ago, he made the statement, ‘I never met a microphone I didn’t like.’ No one will argue with that.”
George led hundreds of notable projects during his 48 years at WDG. Some of his most prominent projects include multiple buildings in Crystal City, VA; Skyline Center in Falls Church, VA; the Arlington Gateway mixed-use development in Arlington, VA; the Plaza America mixed-use office and retail center in Reston, VA; Portals I, II, III, IV, and V in Washington, DC; Reston Executive Center in Reston, VA; the City Crescent Federal Office Building in Baltimore, MD; the 7 million-sf Spring Hill Station Master Plan in Tysons Corner, VA, which served as the demonstration project for the 2010 Tysons Comprehensive Masterplan; and the National Science Foundation Headquarters in Alexandria, VA.
Outside of WDG, George was a dedicated community leader. He concurrently served as president of both the Washington Building Congress and the Washington Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) in 1993. As president, he mobilized a strong coalition from disparate industry associations to jointly sponsor community service projects, educational forums, regional workshops for guiding development, and a public-private partnership to jump-start the revitalization of the District of Columbia's public housing infrastructure. These programs had a significant impact on the region's economic and social recovery during the mid-1990’s.
A founding member of the Washington Architectural Foundation (WAF), George ensured that effective programs would reach tomorrow's leaders and address community concerns. His initiatives resulted in the establishment of public education and outreach programs. His enthusiastic and sustained support enhanced Foundation successes in programs such as Architecture in the Schools, Community Design Services, the Washington Speakers Bureau, and the Pro Bono Design Awards. His visibility in a broad range of endeavors served to demonstrate the positive impact that a member of the architectural profession could have on matters of public concern.
George served as Chair Emeritus of The Catholic University of America's (CUA) Development Board, and received both the Outstanding Achievement Award in Architecture from the CUA Alumni Association and CUA's Joseph Miller Alumni Medallion. In addition to his leadership positions in AIA|DC, he served as a national Board Member and Regional Director of the American Institute of Architects. In 2000, George was elevated to the AIA College of Fellows, and, in 2010, he was honored with the AIA|DC Centennial Award.
The impact of George's leadership is evident in WDG. The firm's approach encompasses various niche markets, and its commitment to collaboration through partnership is a cornerstone of its success. George's contribution to architecture, leadership, and community will be remembered and celebrated by the multitudes whose lives he touched. His unique approach to leadership will continue to inspire and shape the future of the profession he so passionately served.
George is survived by his wife of 53 years, Ann, his children, Marc and Leah Renee, and his four granddaughters, Marley, Hannah, Ella, and Magdalene.
“It feels good to be doing something that I know is valuable, is contributing to my firm’s success, and further enfranchising my partners. I don’t enjoy it so much for what it gives me, but for what I’m able to give others.”
C. R. George Dove, FAIA, on his life’s work