The American Institute of Architects, New Jersey Chapter Announces the Elevation of John Jay Crandall, FAIA

February 23, 2021

The American Institute of Architects, New Jersey Chapter Announces the Elevation of John Jay Crandall, FAIA

The American Institute of Architects College of Fellows has announced its list of members elevated to fellowship in 2021. Among the group is AIA New Jersey and AIA Newark & Suburban member John Jay Crandall, FAIA. John has been recognized for his contributions in Object Five: Service to Society.

“To make the profession of ever-increasing service to society.”

Fellowship in this object is granted to architects who have made notable contributions to the public through alternative careers or volunteer work with organizations not directly connected to the built environment. Achievements may also be of a kind that transcends the other categories for advancement to serve society or humanity in a unique and important manner.

John has dedicated his talents as an architect, leader, and mentor to eliminating substandard housing for the most economically challenged families in our country. His continued commitment and work can be witnessed throughout Central Appalachia. 

Carmine Cerminara, AIA, was a business partner of John’s. He shared, “John Crandall is a friend and an architect.  For more than twenty years, John has selflessly given his time, energy, and expertise in support of the Appalachia Serve Project, which addresses housing for those in need. John’s passion for this cause is unsurpassed.  His ability to spread goodwill is amazing and a tribute to his sense of place in our profession.”
John knew in 9th grade he wanted to be an architect. He immediately pursued an academic career to achieve that goal. His diverse experiences as an architect have
led to a retirement that is full of places where he can use his background. John started his career in an economic down-cycle. He took a position and quickly became a leader of a team designing panelized and modular structures for overseas markets.
 
While working in various design environments, John acquired a passion for commercial real estate development. He found that it could be rewarding both financially and professionally. His passion for architecture and development has enabled John to propel his experience and finances in a meaningful way to help those less fortunate. John has focused these assets on an area of service to people of this country which have been forgotten.
 
John believes he has promoted the profession by bringing a higher level of design into the New Jersey market. While at Mack-Cali, John strived to bring world-recognized firms and their design to his projects. John is proud of the work he completed while at Mack-Cali.
John firmly believes our profession needs to do more. Architects need to look beyond the boundaries they have set for themselves and take a more active role in correcting injustice wherever it may be encountered. In that regard, John believes he has been a very successful architect.
 

“Architects have so much to offer. We really need to do more in the volunteer realm. Let’s get busy, get involved and get dirty. If you can’t physically go, support an organization with your talent and treasures. People do amazing things when armed only with a checkbook. And if you can’t find a group to support, start one.” ~ John Jay Crandall, FAIA

There were a few specific events that led John to a life of service. In August of 1996, John attended a meeting in his hometown of Randolph, New Jersey at a “Little White Church” where he saw a display of work done by the youth group in Mingo County, West Virginia. This is very near where John was born and still has family. He was so moved by that display, he and his family began attending that “Little White Church”, also known as Mt. Fern United Methodist Church. He was anxious to find out more about the work the youth displayed.
 
John began using his skillset to serve in many roles at Mt. Fern. He signed up for the 1997 mission trip to Central Appalachia and led a team of high school and college-aged youth to Whitesburg, KY. This was an important event for John and his entire family. John and his wife, Betty Ann, led Mt. Fern’s Youth Group for 10 years. They led the mission trip to Appalachia for over 12 years. John also Co-Chaired the Building committee and led efforts on many capital improvement projects using his architectural and leadership skills.
 
When things changed at Mt. Fern UMC and the mission trip grew beyond the membership, John founded ACT Now! Youth Fellowship. With help from dedicated, like-minded people, John has expanded the group’s ministry. That work continues as the membership of ACT Now! expands. ACT Now! has opened the mission trip to people of ALL walks of faith. Each year John leads fundraisers, so the volunteers do not have to pay for their involvement.
 
John’s previous business partner, Philip Kennedy-Grant, FAIA, remarked, “John’s career-long dedication to the Appalachian Service Project reveals his commitment to aid those in need.  Volunteering for ASP is unglamorous and unsung.  By common measures of size and cost, it can seem insignificant.  John’s work, his perseverance, his modesty, saying “I just do what I can,” exemplify the highest standards of the AIA.  His elevation to Fellowship is well-deserved.”
 
John was born in Kanawha County, West Virginia and all of John’s family is from WV. Having spent considerable time there, he has witnessed first-hand the considerable hardship the people of Central Appalachia are forced to endure. John’s experience in Whitesburg, KY led him to seek greater involvement in the efforts of the host organization: Appalachia Service Project or ASP. While attending the first-ever “President’s Forum”, Susan Crow (then President & CEO of ASP) asked John to join their Board of Directors. John has been a loyal and engaged member of that BOD ever since.
 
John also serves on ASP’s Finance Committee. He has Chaired or Co-Chaired Ad Hoc committees reporting to the Board. John strives to expand the scope of the service ASP provides. It has not been easy to incorporate new construction into a repair-only ministry. John’s work on new construction programs has facilitated a step into unchartered territory.
 
Colleague Matt Wolfe commented, “His notable contributions through community service have spanned over the past 25 years supporting the mission of the Appalachia Service Project (ASP) organization. His substantial efforts have included architectural design and volunteer construction to support ASP’s effort in providing affordable housing for those significantly below the poverty line.” Fellow architect Tom Haggerty, AIA, notes, “I have worked with John on several occasions over the years and his driving force was always to get the best possible outcome for everyone involved both on projects and personal interactions.”
 
Each year, John seems to be asked to use his architectural and leadership skillsets in more ways. In 2018, John was asked to step outside of his comfort zone and be a Construction Consultant for the entire summer. This was a huge challenge. It was especially enticing since one of the counties John was to serve was where he was born. John’s experiences, skills and architectural background has brought him full circle.
 
John takes great joy in his work for ASP, but serving the people of Kanawha County, WV is particularly special.
 
AIA New Jersey is proud to share this announcement, thanks Mr. Crandall for his service to society and congratulates him on this great honor. John, we hope your generous actions will serve to inspire others! 
 
 
 
 

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