A spirit of ingenuity and determination has changed the face of housing for the better, making America one of the best-housed nations in the world. At IBS in Orlando, two individuals from Denver who embody these qualities joined other legends in the Best in American Living™ Hall of Fame, now in its 34th year.
Lita Dirks, of Denver-based Dirks & Co., was recognized for her work as an award-winning, nationally recognized leader in model home merchandizing. Jerry Gloss, founding partner of KGA Studio Architects, based in Louisville, CO, was recognized for his legacy of excellence in residential design. Habitat for Humanity, headquartered in Georgia, rounded out the 2017 Hall of Fame inductees. A packed house at the Best in American Living Awards (BALA) ceremony saw first-hand the lasting contributions these inductees have made.
Lita Dirks is admired by many as a mentor and leader in creating interior environments that bring spaces to life. For her, winning this award means accepting it on behalf of so many others who have contributed to her success. Famous for “cleaning the slate” in her mind, she says, “there is always another idea. It’s never a problem when someone says it’s not quite right, because it means I get to do it again.”
Her professional designations include MIRM (Master in Residential Marketing), IIDA (International Interior Design Association), as well as a Seniors Housing Marketing Specialist with a CAASH designation. Lita has served on NAHB’s IRM Board of Trustees, 55+ Housing Council Board of Trustees, NSMC Board, and Design Committee. Lita currently sits on the ULI Lifestyle Residential Development Council. In addition to her inclusion in the Best in American Living Hall of Fame, Lita was awarded the IRM Presidential Award two years in a row and in 1993 was honored by the NSMC as the recipient of the prestigious Bill Molster Award. Most recently she was named as a “Legend” by the Home Builders Association of Metropolitan Denver.
Jerry Gloss has dedicated his career to design work on three platforms: custom homes, remodels, and product design for merchant builders. His ability to move from one format to another is enabled by a deep personal dedication to the idea that everyone – no matter the price range –is deserving of good, well-considered design. Upon being inducted into the Best in American Living Hall of Fame, Jerry recognized the builders who ultimately bring his vision to life and had this to say: “when we dream something up on paper or on the computer, it can’t come to fruition without a good builder.” He credits much of his success to advice he received from the baseball great, Cal Ripkin, “be prepared and don’t be out-worked”.
Under Jerry’s leadership, KGA has received 27 BALA award recognitions: over 150 MAME finalists nominations, with an impressive 81 wins at the local level; and numerous national awards, including Gold Nugget, The Nationals (including Custom Home of the Year in the Nation), Professional Builder Awards, NAHB Green Award, and NAHB 50+ Awards. Jerry’s tireless work is never self-serving, and his outpouring of community services, including the MS Benefit Show Home, Show Home for Hope Series, The Glory Community, and John Zay Guest House Expansion in association with Penrose Hospital, shows this dedication. In October of 2014, Jerry was recognized with the prestigious MAME Legends Award honoring architects, interior designers, marketing and sales professionals whose work in the industry have provided highly regarded leadership and a difference making contributions to the success of builders through innovation and performance excellence.
These two Colorado-based new Hall of Famers were joined by Habitat for Humanity. In receiving this honor, Mary Welch, Senior Director of Affiliate Services, thanked the building professionals and others in the audience for helping the organization build homes and provide shelter for those less fortunate in 1,300 communities and 70 countries. Since its inception in 1976, the organization has been driven by the vision that everyone needs a decent place to live. That belief and the work done by the organization embodies the spirit of the Best in American Living Hall of Fame.
— Teri Slavik-Tsuyuki, founder and principal of tst ink, llc.