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Media Advisory
For Immediate Release:
11/16/2012 12:00 AM
Susan Hines
Director, Public Relations and Information
shines@dbia.org
202-682-0110
Robert K. Tener, P.E., Ph.D., DBIA, is 2012 Brunelleschi Medalist

DBIA’s highest honor recognizes outstanding leadership and advancement of design-build project delivery.


The Design-Build Institute of America (DBIA) is pleased to announce that the 2012 recipient of the Brunelleschi Lifetime Achievement Award is Dr. Robert K. Tener, P.E., Ph.D., DBIA. The Brunelleschi Lifetime Achievement Award is the highest honor DBIA can bestow. It is presented to an individual who has made significant contributions to the design and construction industry through outstanding leadership and the advancement of integrated design-build project delivery.

2011 Chair of the DBIA National Board of Directors Greg Gidez, AIA, DBIA, LEED AP, presented the Brunelleschi medal to Tener on November 8, during the annual awards dinner at the 2012 Design-Build Conference and Expo in New Orleans, La.

Speaking on behalf of the DBIA Board of Directors, 2012 Chair Robert Nartonis praised Tener: “Bob Tener has dedicated his career to serving his country, his industry and the next generation of construction and engineering professionals. His work exemplifies the kind of diversified and significant accomplishment that DBIA honors with the Bruelleschi medal. I can think of no one more deserving.”

Tener’s career spans the spectrum of design and construction: He has worked in the public, private, academic and non-profit sectors. A graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, where he later served on the civil engineering faculty, Tener earned Master of Science and Ph.D. degrees in structural engineering from Iowa State University. He became a registered professional engineer in 1963 and was named a Fellow of ASCE in 1988.

Capping his 27-year “first career” as a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officer, then-Colonel Tener served as the senior executive-in-charge of major engineered construction projects in Tennessee, Kentucky and Mississippi, including the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway, which remains the largest earthmoving project in U.S. history. He oversaw highly successful integrated project delivery of major projects on which the Corps’ professional planning, engineering, design and construction staff functioned as single, unified project teams. Colonel Tener achieved national and regional recognition for his leadership and public service in advancing Corps of Engineers civil works programs in the 1970s and 1980s.

Following Army retirement, Tener served in several leadership positions in civic endeavors in Dallas, Texas. In 1994, he joined the faculty of Purdue University’s School of Civil Engineering, where he taught undergraduate and graduate civil and construction engineering; directed Purdue’s nationally acclaimed Construction Internship Program; and integrated design-build into the civil engineering curriculum. Tener became a DBIA member in 1994, one of the first university educators to join the organization after its founding in 1993.

During his years at Purdue, Tener focused his speaking, publishing and advocacy efforts on promoting industry/educator interaction. He unceasingly stressed the high value of professional practitioners engaging with faculty and students to advance civil and construction engineering education. Advocating proactive industry advisory committees and high-quality co-op and internship programs were his themes.

Tener was widely recognized and praised by students and employers alike for his personal direction of Purdue’s unique Construction Internship Program, in which every CEM graduate worked three successful summer intern periods with major construction contractors across the nation as mentors. A hallmark of his time at Purdue: Increasing student exposure to design-build in the classroom and through internships.

Students recognized Tener’s efforts on their behalf. Purdue’s construction engineering students honored him as Professor of the Year four times. Writing in support of his nomination for the Brunelleschi Award, two successful 2002 graduates of Purdue’s Construction Engineering and Management program recalled, “He saw the value in collaborative integration through team assignments, he empowered young women through the encouragement of professional career tracks in the building, design and engineering industries and he enforced the highest level of respect while being the kindest, open-door ‘shrink’ during any student meltdown, young professional crisis or other life drama.” During 2000-2001 Purdue students elected Tener as an honorary faculty member to Mortar Board and Iron Key, both campus wide student honoraries.

After retiring from Purdue, Tener was recruited for the position of founding Executive Director of the Charles Pankow Foundation (CPF) in 2005. Under the guidance of the CPF Board of Directors, he directed the launch and early successes of this non-profit foundation’s research program, based on the purposes set forth by its founder, Charles J. Pankow, the founder and long-time chief executive of Charles Pankow Builders. Mr. Pankow, an early recipient of the Brunelleschi Award, was considered a pioneer of design-build in the construction industry and the foundation is dedicated to continuing his legacy. Tener proved the ideal leader to establish and energize the operating model for the foundation’s program of research work.

Over its first seven years, the Charles Pankow Foundation has awarded 41 research grants with a total grant award value of $5.5 million, with 14 grant projects completed and all research products accessible to the public. Under joint sponsorship of CPF and DBIA, the University of Colorado in 2010 delivered the report, “Influence of Project Delivery Method on Achieving Sustainable, High Performance Buildings,” which provides proven best practices for selecting project delivery methods. Another DBIA-CPF collaboration under Bob’s management produced DBIA’s widely acclaimed Design Management Guide for the Design-Build Environment publication in 2011. He also launched another joint CPF-DBIA research effort , now underway, that will deliver an empirical guide to successful owner practices regarding roles, team integration, team behavior, delivery method and project performance for building design and construction.

Reflecting on Tener’s many accomplishments leading CPF, Rik Kunnath, president of the foundation’s board and Chief Executive Officer of Pankow Operating, Inc., credits him for “Taking the Charles Pankow Foundation from embryonic visibility to the widespread reputation it has today.”