Santa Barbara Conservancy to honor Nicole Hernandez and William Mahan
The Santa Barbara Conservancy will present the John Pitman Memorial Award to Nicole Hernandez, architectural historian for the city of Santa Barbara, and architect William Mahan at a ceremony at 5:30 p.m. Thursday in the Pico Adobe, 920 Anacapa St.
The award is given in honor of the late John Pitman, founder of the Santa Barbara Conservancy, to citizens who have displayed exemplary professional dedication in the preservation of historic architecture and environment.
“As the city’s architectural historian, Ms. Hernandez has conducted historic resource surveys, worked with public and private property owners on preservation projects, provided valuable support and recommendations to the city’s Historic Landmarks Commission and worked with community groups on researching local history,” said architect Steve Hausz, president of the SBC.
“Most recently, she played a crucial role in the preparation of the Santa Barbara African American and Black Historic Context Statement.”
Before coming to Santa Barbara in 2012, Ms. Hernandez worked as an architectural historian at Historic Denver, Inc. and before that, as architectural historian for the city of New Orleans. She has an MFA in historic preservation from the Savannah College of Art and Design.
“During his years of service on many local design and planning review boards, Mr. Mahan has been a tireless voice for preservation and a strong advocate for the highest quality in the design of new buildings,” Mr. Hausz told the News-Press. “Over the course of a long and productive career, he served in leadership positions on the Courthouse Legacy Foundation and the city’s Architectural Board of Review, Planning Commission, Historic Landmarks Commission and Single Family Design Board.”
He is co-founder of the Architectural Foundation of Santa Barbara and past president of the American Institute of Architects Santa Barbara Chapter. In addition to his community service, Mr. Mahan, now retired, was a principal in several important architectural firms in Santa Barbara including Mahan Architects, Sharpe Mahan and Sharpe Mahan Lenny.
National recognition came in 2019 when Mr. Mahan was inducted in the prestigious American Institute of Architects College of Fellows.
“The SBC advocates for the recognition, preservation and revitalization of historic, architectural and cultural resources in Santa Barbara County. The conservancy works to increase public awareness of and participation in local preservation issues. It provides information and education regarding the preservation of sites, structures and neighborhoods throughout Santa Barbara County,” Mr. Hausz said.
The conservancy has published a variety of educational and entertaining publications devoted to the distinctive architectural and urban history of Santa Barbara including the following titles: “Santa Barbara — A Guide to El Pueblo Viejo” (2nd edition: 2016) explores the city’s extraordinary urban history by way of surveying its alluring Spanish-inspired architecture. Filled with maps, color photographs and a wealth of historical detail and insights, the 294-page publication is available in local stores and online.
“Stone Architecture in Santa Barbara” (Arcadia Publishing, 2009) documents the homes, bridges, walls and an assortment of other stonework that line the many streets of Santa Barbara using photographs, both historic and contemporary, that evoke the beauty of stone construction.
“Many of these artistic fabrications remain a testimony to the skills and tastes of their creators and add a distinctive element to the particular ambiance that makes Santa Barbara a special place,” Mr. Hausz pointed out.
“Richard Oglesby, Ph.D., author of “Coloring Santa Barbara” (2017) aimed to have a little fun! Twelve members of Santa Barbara’s architectural design community generously gave of their time to create this sometimes romantic, sometimes whimsical, book of illustrations depicting this place we call home. It is available in local stores and online.”
John Pitman, who was born in 1930 in Santa Barbara, grew up in an architecturally oriented home that instilled in him the desire to become an architect. His father, Richard Pitman, was chief draftsman for the architect of El Paseo, James Osborne Craig and probably his wife Mary Craig.
In 1950 he attended UCSB and the Pasadena Art Center and worked for Neilson Construction Co. as an in-house architect. He also worked for architect Kem Weber.
“In those years, he was greatly encouraged by Robert Ingle Hoyt, prominent local architect, to become licensed as an architect. Around 1962, he passed his state exam and was licensed to practice architecture in California,” according to Mr. Hausz.
Mr. Pitman and Peter Edwards, AIA, became partners in1957. Some of their designs in Santa Barbara are the Dabney House, the Snyder House and the Roach House, all shown in “Santa Barbara Architecture, Vol. 3.”
“They also designed the Fess Parker Red Lion Hotel on East Cabrillo Boulevard, Santa Barbara Tennis Club, Bank of Montecito on Coast Village Road, Natural History Sea Center and many others, all compatible with their surroundings and sensitive to Santa Barbara’s historic architecture,” Mr. Hausz said.