Local Arts Effort Leads to Statewide Recognition of Area Architect

Sioux Falls, SD – January 13, 2017 – Thanks to a local effort, Sioux Falls architect Ward Whitwam is the recipient of one of the most revered arts awards in South Dakota. On Feb. 15, in Pierre, SD, Whitwam will be given the 2017 Governor’s Award for Distinction in Creative Achievement.

The effort to nominate Whitwam was led by Sioux Falls Arts Council board member and long-time area arts advocate Charlotte Carver. Carver enlisted the help of local writer Jill Callison to develop a nomination package highlighting Whitwam’s achievements over several decades.

“For over 50 years, Whitwam’s unassuming ‘Lodge-Poles’ sculptures have served as the highway entrance to South Dakota. An architectural marvel, the iconic design honors the Plains Indian Sioux as listed on the National Register of Historic Places,” says Carver.

An award-winning architect, Whitwam served in World War II and completed undergraduate and graduate school at UC Berkeley before eventually returning to Sioux Falls to begin his own architectural firm. His favorite project was designing his office on West Avenue. Proud of his South Dakota roots, he says, “I am not from New York or Los Angeles; I am a local boy from Watertown, SD.”

“Not only is Whitwam known for what became fondly known as ‘Whitwam’s wigwams’ along our interstates, but anyone who has driven up the hill on north Minnesota Avenue in knows his work when they see the Good Samaritan Sioux Falls Center nestled into the hilltop,” says Kara Dirkson, Executive Director of the Sioux Falls Arts Council, “you can’t miss the perforated white roof over the balcony.”

Whitwam also designed the chapel on Augustana University’s campus as well as numerous churches, homes, banks and nursing homes in the area.

The Governor’s Awards in the Arts are a joint initiative between Arts South Dakota and the South Dakota Arts Council. The awards ceremony is Friday, February 15, 2017 at the Ramkota Hotel and Conference Center in Pierre, SD. Tickets can be purchased by calling 605.252.5979 or visiting ArtsSouthDakota.org.

Additional Information

Photo attached; Source: Kelly Martin, Wikimedia Commons

For Whitwam’s biography, click here.

For more information on the Governor’s Awards, click here, or contact Shari Kosel at 605.252.5979 ext. 1 or shari@artssouthdakota.org.


Sioux Falls Arts Council
326 E. 8th Street, Suites 106A & B
Sioux Falls, SD 57103


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