"Simeon represents a rare combination of qualities – a visionary and artist with a long view of the role and the value of the trades – and a pragmatic and immensely focused determination to doing the hard work and consensus building required to help bring about a bright future for the trades."
It is my great honor and privilege to nominate Simeon Warren, Dean of the College and Professor of Architectural Stone Carving at the American College of the Building Arts for the 2012 Askins Achievement Award. It is difficult to imagine a single individual who more fully embodies the values and the attributes that the Askins award represents, or who has dedicated himself more fully to “the continuance of traditional building skills, advocacy of training in preservation trades, practicing a building trade at master level of skill and knowledge, and extraordinary effort given to advancing the awareness of traditional building trade skills and knowledge.”
As a stone carver he learned his trade at Weymouth College, gaining an Advanced Craft Certificate in Masonry from the City and Guilds of London Institute. His first professional position was as an apprentice at Lincoln Cathedral, later becoming Deputy Yard Foreman at Wells Cathedral, where he worked on the central tower. He has also produced stone for a number of historic buildings including Buckingham Palace and The Houses of Parliament. At Glasgow School of Art he received a Fine Arts Degree in Environmental Art, which allowed him to create more contemporary conceptual work.
Simeon has served on the Board of Directors of both the Association for Preservation Technology and the Preservation Trades Network, and was instrumental in working with both organizations to advance collaboration and dialog through parallel annual conferences. That the conferences theme, “Cornerstones: New Foundations in Preservation” should spring from the inspiration of a stone carver is a testament to Simeon’s vision for a future in which the trades have a respected and valued role in the conservation of built heritage and the making of beautiful, useful and durable buildings.
Simeon has played a pivotal role in the development of the American College of the Building through its formative years as the School of the Building Arts, through the graduation of its first four year college graduates in 2009, and pursuing accreditation. He has worked tirelessly, frequently in the face of immense obstacles and difficulties, to ensure the future success and sustainability of the ACBA program, and to inspire and support its students and graduates.
One graduate Mimi Moore, a stone carver had the following to say about Simeon’s influence:
“From the first introduction at my first open house, to each one after Simeon Warren has been the most humble and unassuming man but his peers always have the highest praise for him. In everyday life Simeon is very even keeled but when he gets to talking about and working with stone he becomes extremely passionate and it is impossible not to share his enthusiasm. He enjoys the small secret nuances’ in stone carving. I remember when he first showed us how to find a flat surface in a rough-faced stone. It seemed impossible and insurmountable. But he took us slowly through each step, carving a small flat in each corner before putting four small pieces of perfectly square iron on each flattened corner, then quietly revealing how, using two straight edges, to “see” the flat surface and where to carve it. Because of how he taught and the pleasure he showed in teaching, I will never forget how to find a flat surface. That is just one of many other invaluable things, which I have learned for Mr. Simeon and will never forget. Simeon’s passion for the trade and for preservation did not stop at the class room. He was always willing to give advice and to counsel us. It did not matter what we needed help with, he is the rock for the school and for many people in it. He always had some new idea or outside project to incorporate in class. They ranged from trips to conferences and going to New Orleans where we repaired hurricane damage, to collaborating with multiple schools on many projects. I am always amazed by what he could accomplish. We all learned so much from him and in learning from him you could not help but have a deep respect for him.”
These comments are representative of so many that I’ve heard from students, graduates and colleagues.
Simeon represents a rare combination of qualities – a visionary and artist with a long view of the role and the value of the trades – and a pragmatic and immensely focused determination to doing the hard work and consensus building required to help bring about a bright future for the trades. I believe that Simeon, both by his own personal example and by the visibility and credibility he has brought to the trades through his work has immeasurably advanced the understanding, appreciation and respect for people who work with their hands, minds and hearts.
Nomination Statement by Lisa Sasser