The Best in American Living™ Awards Hall of Fame program honors individuals and firms who have been housing industry thought leaders and significantly influenced the residential design and construction field through their success in their professions. We would not be here, experiencing our lives in the way we do, if these individuals had not envisioned and executed the design improvements we have enjoyed over the last 30 plus years.
David Baker, FAIA
David Baker, FAIA, is the founding principal of David Baker Architects (DBA), a progressive and collaborative practice based in San Francisco and Oakland, California and Birmingham, Alabama. DBA creates acclaimed buildings in urban environments and is known for exceptional housing, creative site strategies, designing for density, and integrating new construction into the public realm. A leader in the affordable housing sphere, DBA has designed and built more than 13,000 affordable homes in the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond. Baker’s diverse current projects include modular housing for formerly homeless individuals in San Francisco, boutique hotels, and mixed-use master plans.
Debra L. Bassert
Debra Bassert has served as the assistant vice president for Land Use and Design at the National Association of Home Builders for nearly 20 years and has more than 35 years of experience in land use policy, site planning, and design, most of them on behalf of NAHB.
She has overseen a team that provides strategic policy assistance on federal, state, and local land use and design regulations as well as guided development of extensive resources on a wide range of issues, including land development, housing affordability, infrastructure financing, and national design trends. Her advocacy efforts have focused on reasonable regulations, take-home educational value, best practices, and on-the-ground success stories.
She served as editor-in-chief of NAHB’s online news source Best in American Living—Redefining Home and Community since its launch in 2013 and as editor of NAHB’s Land Development magazine for several years, which was published from 1988 until 2013. Her team also manages and promotes NAHB’s Best in American Living Awards program.
Denise Dersin is the editorial director of Scranton Gillette Horizon’s Professional Builder, Custom Builder, ProBuilder.com, CustomBuilderOnline.com, and ResidentialProductsOnline.com, business-to-business publications and websites that provide vital information for the housing industry on the topics of business management, design, construction, sales and marketing, and building products. She also conceives and directs the publications’ events, Women in Residential Construction and the 40 Under 40 Executive Summit. An award-winning writer and editor for more than 30 years, Dersin previously served as editor-in-chief of Builder magazine and editor of Time Life Books. At Time Life, she edited, wrote, or researched more than 50 volumes for four of the company’s best-selling series of books.
William “Bill” J. Pulte
PulteGroup Founder • 1932 – 2018
A true Horatio Alger story, in 1950, Bill Pulte built his first house by hand on Detroit’s Christy Street on land donated by a relative using plans purchased from the local newspaper and with tools given as high school graduation gifts. From such humble beginnings grew one of America’s greatest homebuilding companies that has delivered over 750,000 homes. Known for a humble manner, Mr. Pulte had a keen mind that was always seeking new ways to build higher quality homes more efficiently. From plant production, value engineering, and the use of SIPs to designing entirely new building products, Pulte created a culture that embraced change as he sought to make the company better.
Mr. Pulte was a man of high values and integrity who loved his God, his family and his Pulte family. Throughout a career that spanned more than six decades, he would always say, “I never went to work a day in my life. I just loved what I was doing.”
The Sherwin-Williams Company
Sherwin-Williams has been a proud supporter of the National Association of Home Builders for many years and continues to seek new ways to support the inspiring work of builders in the community. As a leader in the development of advanced paints and coatings, the company is committed to helping homebuilders, architects, remodelers, and professionals alike from start to finish. Sherwin-Williams’ work goes above and beyond innovative formulas, also ensuring professionals have the tools they need to guide them through any project, whether by providing color resources such as its annual Colormix Forecast or learning opportunities through extensive online courses. Industry partners can also rely on local service and expert advice at more than 4,300 Sherwin-Williams neighborhood stores.
With a history of more than 150 years of innovation, Sherwin-Williams values the hard work of the homebuilding community and recognizes that quality craftmanship is not just about completing a house but mostly about creating a home.
Jillian Pritchard Cooke
Jillian Pritchard Cooke is the founder of Wellness Within Your Walls, which aims to connect the global family with healthy eco-sensitive products that result in beautiful, sustainable, non-toxic environments. Cooke is also the founder of interior design firm DES-SYN which was established in 1991 and primarily services the residential building industry. She opened BEE in Atlanta, GA in 2010, a unique retail boutique promoting fashion and home furnishing products that meet the GOTS, WWYW, SFC, and Cradle to Cradle standards. Cooke has more than 30 years of experience with design projects in New York, Philadelphia, Boston Los Angeles, London, and Atlanta.
Arthur C. Danielian, FAIA
Over the 55-plus years of his career, Art Danielian has truly made his mark on the field of residential architecture. Not only has he achieved exemplary accomplishments within the profession, he has a demonstrated history of giving back to the homebuilding industry and providing mentoring to the next generation of architectural students and industry professionals. Danielian pioneered innovative residential housing concepts such as the wide and shallow lot configurations, combo/condos, and various improvements of the ‘z-lots,’ all of which had a substantial and positive impact on community character in master planned communities throughout Orange County and beyond. He was one of the first architects to embrace a market-driven design model, working with each of his builder clients and market researchers to truly identify their market profiles—creating homes with tremendous absorption rates that were well loved by their buyers.
Mike Kephart is the founder of Kephart Architects, a firm focused on the design of residential communities. In 2008, Kephart retired from the practice he had led since 1973. The concept of “housing for later life” consumed his attention after retirement, both for his own needs and the growing demographic of people who enjoy years beyond age 50. He co-authored a book about the phenomenon, called ‘Building for Boomers.’ Kephart also continued his passion for housing by founding Sidekick Homes. ‘Sidekicks’ are accessory dwelling units that can be placed on single-family lots adjacent to existing homes or as new construction.
Habitat for Humanity
Dahlin Group Architecture Planning
Robert I. Toll
Herbert V. Kohler, Jr.
Color Design Art
Bruce Downing & Jim Leach
Gene E. Dreyfus
The Green Company
Aram Bassenian & Carl W. Lagoni
Barry A. Berkus
Capital Pacific Holdings
Roy L. Diez
Carole P. Eichen
J. Carson Looney
Stephen C. Moore