James Lee Binkley “Jim” passed away peacefully at his home in Reston, VA on November 27, 2021 after a long illness.
A Fellow of the American Institute of Architects (FAIA), Jim served at the national level for over three decades as a passionate, cutting edge and effective champion for sustainable design and design excellence. Over the course of his long career in the Federal Government, he led three agencies in refining sustainability and building design standards that have made the government a leader in progressive, green design.
His influence extended far beyond the Federal Government to the culture, policies, processes, and technical programs of state and local governments and the entire building industry. Jim had lead roles at the Federal Government’s General Services Administration and in the U.S. Department of Energy. As senior architect for the U.S. Postal Service, Jim helped direct the design of 29,000 buildings, improving customer satisfaction, efficiency, and sustainability. Jim received the prestigious AIA Thomas Jefferson Award in 2011 in recognition of excellence in architectural achievement in his career as a public sector architect who managed and produced quality design within his agencies.
Prior to his Federal Government employment, while working for Gold Medal winner Pietro Belluschi in Boston, Jim became a registered architect. For 32 years Jim was an award-winning adjunct professor of architecture at Catholic University of America (CUA), where he created the School of Architecture and Planning’s initial courses in sustainable design and taught at least 4,000 senior level students on the specifics of this, using public architecture as examples.
In late 2020 The James Binkley Prize was created by CUA’s School of Architecture and Planning to honor him. The prize is to be awarded annually to winners of CUA’s juried Integrated Building Design Studio projects.
Jim was born in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, on March 12, 1942. He was proud to have been an Eagle Scout and to have received the God and Country Award and the Explorer Silver Award. Following his graduation from Davidson College in 1964 with a B.A. in English, Jim enrolled in North Carolina State University where he received degrees in Philosophy with high honors and Architecture, as well as a U.S. Army commission as second lieutenant. Jim served in the military in a combat unit as captain, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, in Korea from 1969 to 1971, and was a recipient of the Army Commendation Medal.
Jim is survived by his wife of 26 years, Frances Knox Bastress and his loving children and step-children: John Binkley and his wife Jen, Kevin Binkley and his wife Amy, Jessica Binkley and her partner Jack Brown, Jennifer Bastress, and Matthew Bastress. He is also survived by his grandchildren Luke and Levi Binkley and step-grandchildren Andrew, Cassie, and Tabitha Bastress.
Jim was proud to describe himself as a soldier poet. He advocated that whenever possible in war and peace, do no harm. In line with this, he frequently said, “May all sentient beings be well, happy, and peaceful.”
A memorial service will be held at a later date. Jim requested that any contributions in his memory be made to Fellows Scholarship Endowment sponsored by the Washington Architectural Foundation found at www.aiadc.com/donate“>www.aiadc.com/donate. (After selecting an amount, click on the dropdown menu to find Fellows Scholarship Endowment. You may note Jim’s name as what inspired your gift.)
Published by The Washington Post from Dec. 3 to Dec. 5, 2021.