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Each year, GRAY singles out a respected and influential member of the Pacific Northwest design community with a prolific body of work as a recipient of the Legacy Award. The 7th Annual GRAY Awards honor goes to:


As founding partner of Seattle-based Jones & Jones, architect Johnpaul Jones has spent decades working with American Indian tribes, incorporating Native architectural motifs and philosophies into his designs, and designing some of the country’s most culturally significant American Indian buildings. 

After growing up in Oklahoma with his Welsh-American father and his mother who was of Choctaw and Cherokee heritage, Jones and his family moved to California. An internship at a San Jose architectural firm led him to pursue a Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Oregon. After graduating in 1967, Jones began connecting his work to the natural, animal, spiritual, and human worlds—a design philosophy that emerged from his Choctaw-Cherokee ancestors and is shared by his firm to this day. Each of the practice’s new designs considers all four of these aspects—the results are buildings that complement the land, its ecology, and its community. 

exterior of the National Museum of the American Indian

Jones was the lead design consultant for the National Museum of the American Indian, which opened in 2004 on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The five-story, 250,000-square-foot, curvilinear building is clad in a golden-colored Kasota limestone mimicking natural rock formations shaped by wind and water over thousands of years. Photograph courtesy Jones & Jones.

Jones’ designs have won widespread acclaim for their reverence for the earth, for paying deep respect to regional Indigenous architectural traditions and native landscapes, and for heightening understanding of Indigenous people and their diverse cultures. But his sensitive approach to cultural heritage is not limited to Indigenous projects: In 2011, for example, the firm designed the Bainbridge Island Japanese-American Exclusion Memorial to convey the tragic story of the forcible internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. 

aerial photo of The Land Bridge pedestrian freeway overpass

The Land Bridge, designed by Jones & Jones with consultation from Maya Lin, is a 40-foot wide earth-covered pedestrian bridge that arcs over State Route 14 in Vancouver, Washington. Reconnecting historic Fort Vancouver with the Columbia River waterfront, the project is one of six art landscapes commissioned by the Confluence Project, a nonprofit focused on sharing the history, cultures, and ecology of the Columbia River system through Indigenous voices. Photographed by Bruce Forster courtesy Jones & Jones.

A long history of noteworthy projects across North America includes cultural centers, longhouses, and museums. The culmination of his focus on American Indian buildings was a 12-year engagement as the lead design consultant for the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian on the Mall in Washington, D.C. For that project, Jones observed the site and its surroundings, noticing how everything around it was linear, from rows of trees to buildings and static reflecting pools. The resulting design, which overlooks a reclaimed wetland, is organic, curved, and contoured in honor of the natural heritage of Native people.

A Fellow in the American Institute of Architects, Jones is the recipient of numerous awards, including the National Humanities Medal from the National Endowment for the Humanities, awarded to him by President Barack Obama in 2014. In 2023, President Joe Biden appointed Jones to the Institute of American Indian Arts Board of Trustees.


Thank you to our 7th annual GRAY Awards sponsors and partners:

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