In memory of Bill Truex, Citizen Architect

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TruexCullins. April 12, 2022. It is with heavy hearts that we mourn the loss of our co-founder, mentor and dear friend William H. Truex Jr., FAIA. Bill died peacefully at his home in Burlington on April 10 at the age of 85, with his devoted wife Jill Williams by his side.

Bill was a citizen architect in every sense of the word. In 1968 he joined Gene Alexander and founded a new architecture firm that merged with Bill DeGroot and Tom Cullins 4 years later. From the beginning, the office focused on urban planning and the design of buildings serving a public purpose.

Bill dedicated himself to improving communities through architecture. During his career, he designed numerous Red Cross blood centers across the United States and was the lead designer for notable landmarks such as the US Coast Guard on the Burlington waterfront, the Visitor Center at Mount Independence, and the Hoehl Welcome Center at Saint Michael’s College.

His most transformative creation was the Church Street Marketplace. Bill developed the first design concept for the marketplace in the early 1970s. As Chairman of Burlington’s Planning Commission, Bill enlisted the support of Street Commissioner Pat Robins and Senator Patrick Leahy to close a busy downtown thoroughfare and create a new pedestrian core for downtown Burlington. Church Street Marketplace is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places and has been designated one of America’s Great Public Spaces by the American Planning Association.

In 2001, Bill was named a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects—one of only four Vermont architects at the time to receive that honor.

In a statement issued Monday by the mayor’s office, Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger recognized Bill’s enduring service to the city. “We lost a true Burlington giant this weekend. Bill Truex had a vision for Church Street Marketplace, inspired by the pedestrian squares across Europe that have fundamentally changed our city for the better,” said Mayor Weinberger. “Bill had a great love and appreciation for this city and I am immensely grateful for the friendship and support of city initiatives that Bill has generously offered over the past decade.”

In addition to his work on the Burlington Planning Commission, Bill has served on numerous boards and civic groups, building links between the architectural profession and the community. Bill has served as Director of the Preservation Trust of Vermont, Burlington City Arts and Chairman of the Board of the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum. He has served on Burlington’s Design Review Board, the Urban Renewal Agency and the Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission. He has held elected leadership positions in AIA local, regional and national groups. As program director for the New England Regional Council’s AIA conference in Vermont, Bill conceived and implemented the first architectural design charter for groups in Vermont history. He was instrumental in founding Norwich University’s architecture program and led the Advisory Board from its conception to accreditation. Bill also helped create Vermont Technical College’s Architecture and Building Services program and served as an advisor to that program for two decades.

After retiring in 2007, Bill embarked on one of his final voyages, navigating America’s Great Loop, down the Mississippi River and up the Intracoastal Waterway on an aptly named 42-foot cabin cruiser transitions. Most recently, Bill was involved with the Antique and Classic Boat Society, leading efforts to host this year’s international show in Burlington, scheduled for September 2022.

The architectural practice Bill founded will continue in his name, a testament to his legacy. TruexCullins’ culture continues to be based on the principles Bill first established: teamwork, respect, community service, a willingness to take bold action, and a commitment to design excellence.

April 12, 2022, TruexCullins. Burlington.

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